Tuesday, April 5, 2016
East Haddon, Northamptonshire
Small and shapely
Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference. I’ve highlighted quite a few tiny buildings on this blog, from drinking fountains to village lock-ups, often noticing how a small building can take an unusual form – with domed or pyramidal roof, for example. This tiny pump house in East Haddon, it seems to me, is such a structure. Users, whether drawing water here or just stopping to pass the time of day, must have been grateful for the shelter; it continues to enliven a quiet corner of the village now its pumping days are over. How much better than the bare, unprotected pump in the Lincolnshire village where I spent my first couple of years;* I’m told I liked toddling to the pump with my mother in the fervent hope that our journey would coincide with one of the visits of the ice-cream man.
I don’t know how old this little structure is. Online sources claim that it was built in the 16th century. But if so, it must be like the woodsman’s favourite old axe, which had a handle so comfortable he fashioned a replacement with exactly the same shape when it gave out, and a head so well balanced that when its edge was worn away by repeated sharpenings he got the blacksmith to make a new one that was the twin of the first. That attractive conical thatched roof will have been replaced quite a few times over the years, and I expect the timber uprights have been renewed too. If asked to guess, I’d have said that the design was redolent of the late-18th or early-19th centuries, when ‘rustic’ porches on cottages, with overhanging thatched roofs and knobbly timber supports au naturel were all the rage. Whatever its date, I’m pleased to add it to my virtual collection of small but well formed buildings.
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*In the late-1950s. I’m told it took a few more years for running water and mains electricity to reach this outpost.