Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Australia's Oldest House

Who would you shadow if you could choose a famous historical figure?  My guest author of the week, Susan Page Davis, chose Captain James Cook, the 18th century navigator and cartographer. Well loved by Australians, he presides in our history books as the first European to have encountered our eastern coastline. 
I’m guessing Susan would've liked to find herself aboard one of Cook's ships as he mapped uncharted territories of the Pacific. But if she chose the day he returned to visit his parents in their home in Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, she may have found herself in the tiny cottage, now fixed to Melbourne’s own Fitzroy Gardens. 
Deconstructed brick by brick, and packed into 253 cases and 40 barrels, the cottage was bought by Russell Grimwade and donated to the people of Victoria to mark Australia’s centenary of settlement in 1934. 
Rebuilt and restored, the cottage allows us to peer into this museum and revisit a time when Australia was as fresh to the British Empire as a wet line on a new map. 

Captain Cook’s Cottage sits beside a vibrant cottage garden and while its humble size reflects the simplicity of family life in the late 1700s, it’s also clothed in the splendor of nature it once knew. For the walls and roof are wrapped in a true English vine, taken from the original building before demolition and transported along with its bricks and beams. 
I love this detail. A house of history, rebuilt to capture a previous life, centuries old, and now covered in the same emerald cape it wore in the winter of 1771. I’m glad the custodians and last owner thought to include the vine cutting. It's keept the cottage alive with something more than clay or wood. 

Hydrangeas at Crabapple House
I’ve looked for ways to incorporate the old with the new, here at Crabapple House. I’ve sunk second generation hydrangeas into the ground, which made the journey from my grandmother’s garden to my mother’s... and then my own. 
And in a silk pouch I have my granny's last roses. Pruned by me and saved, a few months after her death, on the eve of my first wedding anniversary. I dried those petals and mixed them with the rosebuds from my bridal bouquet. 

Because I love to hold onto yesteryear, and weave its shadow with the brilliance of today.
Have you taken a piece of history with you when you've relocated? Do you have a special token of yesteryear threaded through your house?