Time capsule Victorian kitchen – hidden in a basement since World War II

time capsule victorian kitchenThis time-capsule kitchen in England is Victorian, but there is mid century connection: It was closed up unused for decades until World War II, when it was briefly recommissioned to use during air raids. Is was then closed up again – and only recently rediscovered by a new and appreciative generation of owners. Peek inside, and it looks like the cook just stepped away, this story in the Daily Mail says. The kitchen is in the basement of a big old English estate, the romantic but spooky kind where, yes, so much shabby historical frou frou would be piled in the basement that, yes, you would forget there is an entire kitchen down there, too. I do love these lost ‘n found stories. Thanks to reader Amy for spotting this one.

  1. George Amberson says:

    I found this story so interesting that I became rather obsessed with it—in particular, the mystery of the “unidentified pulley system” on the wall.

    After doing oodles of research on the topic, I can positively identify the apparatus. The Victorians called it a “smoke jack.” It worked by harnessing the power of the rising smoke to turn the turnspit.

    Quote: “The apparatus is kept in motion by the upward current of air in the chimney….”

    I have a link for you. You’ll see the illustration clearly, which leaves no doubt in the mind of the reader.


    Since we can now call this mystery “solved”, how do we go about telling the authors of the piece?

    1. pam kueber says:

      Very cool (err hot), George. I’m sure you can contact the author through the Daily Mail website….Thanks!

  2. Katey says:

    Facinating! Right now I work part time for a catering company and my favorite part about the job definitely is the old mansion houses we get to work in. Their kitchens are often a strange mix of origional fixtures and squeezed in modern ones. Last night I was at the Castle Hill house in Ipswich MA, where the Crane (as in plumbing!) family lived in the early 20th century. The kitchens are an amazing series of rooms on two floors, with dumbwaiters and call buzzers and revolving shelves and a whole upstairs balcony over the ‘serving kitchen’ of cabinets for storage of china! Another old house I work in sometimes has the big old iron cookstove with tile surround still installed in the basement level of the kitchen, which now is only used as storage for the bar and for extra tables. There’s bathroom with the gravity fed high tank toilet down there, too.

  3. Nina462 says:

    I know we mentioned the 40’s house series earlier, but this brings back memories of the Victorian house series.

    1. AmyEbbertHill says:

      I remember watching that one, and how hard life was for domestic workers, especially. They were at risk of serious injury doing chores like the laundry. Sometimes the good old days weren’t always that great.

      1. gavinhastings says:

        You must remember that “being in service” was a step up for millions of people.
        The daily benefits and security of this work far outweighed the risk.

  4. Amy Hill says:

    Even in England, there are those who would tear out a really cool old kitchen. Hopefully it will be preserved. It would be nice if they did tours of the house & showed how to use all those old kitchen tools. Reminds me of that PBS series about living like the Victorians did back in the day. Didn’t you do a post about that on the site a while back?

  5. Tina says:

    Loved reading the story and seeing the pictures on the Daily Mail site. But my favorite part might be the “Worst Rated” comments below the story. I can hear them being spoken with British and Scottish accents. For example…

    “Nothing amidst that pile of old toot that a good bonfire or scrap merchant couldn’t sort out.”- CH, Edinburgh, 15/9/2011 9:29

    1. gavin hastings says:

      Re: Comments

      “Sink Estates” are the lowest tier of Council Housing-
      What we refer ro as “Projects” in America.

      1. Kate H says:

        That makes so much more sense than what I was imagining. (I was remembering the fields of colored sinks/toilets/bathtubs that Pam featured some time ago — the ones in Sussex or Wales or somewhere.)

Comments are closed.