I got lucky. I made the only bid on the lot I was watching and was delighted that I paid less than expected. The seller told me all the other people watching must have all been watching X-Factor when the auction ended. She lived very close to where I grew up and she even had the same forename as I did. We arranged to collect from her house and as we got close I started to recognise everything, though I hadn’t been there for 30 years
I get very nostalgic about where I grew up: I’m sure we all feel like that. People say that you should never go back but I wish there had been some time to look around while we were there. I often think about Broomfield Park, which had paths with lovely borders, a playground and the lake where our toy boats were sailed and sometimes sunk – requiring a parent to wade in. There were also tennis courts, an aviary and the sports track used for our school sports days, as well as a beautiful Memorial Garden. I assume and hope that these are all still there. One of these paths also has the dubious distinction of being where I got flashed by a man in a mac at the age of 11 on my way home from the library!!
Broomfield House, which was built in the 17th Century, and which sadly burned down in the early eighties, was a beautiful building which was used by everyone. We rather took it for granted, I suppose. It held a small museum downstairs with some fairly terrible taxidermy – probably the first time I’d ever seen a real fox – a fairground laughing policeman and a few other seemingly random bits and pieces, but the best bit for us as kids was the bee hive with a glass screen where we could see them coming in and out. There was a railing we used to climb up on to get a better view. The museum may not have been great, but we loved it and it was free, with an ice cream booth outside at the back that used to sell wafers with a chunky slab of Cornish vanilla ice cream. When I was a young child I had to attend a clinic upstairs at the house. I have no idea why I had to go there, but they used to give me rosehip syrup (has anyone else remember having that?). I remember the very grand hall and the beautiful staircase with red carpet which had a rope across to stop the general public straying upstairs. Over this staircase the ceiling was covered in a sumptuous mural of dark theatricality
Several years ago the remainder of the shell of Broomfield House was featured on the Griff Rhys-Jones programme ‘Restoration’ where viewers voted in some kind of competitive frenzy for their favourite ruined building to receive funds (very much like the X-Factor, in fact). It was a ‘yes’ from me but Broomfield House did not win and is still awaiting the attention it requires. Truth be told, the old building was completely wiped out by the fire, and I am not sure how I feel about that. When something is lost, really lost, then surely restoration is just re-creation?
I have ‘lifted’ the pictures, taken around 1980, from the internet, mainly from the Friends of Broomfield Park. I hope they will not mind