For the past twelve years, I’ve been looking at cottages in or near my parents’ village in the Peak District of Derbyshire. It’s been quite an adventure. I’ve seen a range of options, from an impressive, five-bedroom “character” cottage on a hillside with amazing views, to several rooms carved out of a 1700s “poor house” for the indigent, to a hole-in-the-wall living space, where the term “fixer-upper” doesn’t come close to doing justice to the squalor.
Most of the houses in this part of the Peak District are the traditional sandstone cottages. Many were constructed in the 1800s, though there are also those dating from the 1600s, 1700s, and of course the 1900s and this century.
Further to the west and north of my parents’ village, and in what is called the “White Peak,” cottages are made using the local limestone. Limestone is whiter, harder, and more angular than sandstone. Also, you can sometimes find fossils in the limestone that you don’t find in sandstone. Here’s a typical cottage built of limestone.
There are also brick buildings (relatively rare in the northern part of Derbyshire; they tend to proliferate in the southern part near the city of Derby, which is nowhere as stony).
And there are pebble-dash (stucco) cottages (below) and other more modern types.
In terms of how they are built, there’s the detached cottage, which is an entity unto itself:
. . . semi-detached cottages, in which two houses share a common wall . . .
And terraced cottages, which are a row of cottages, each sharing one or two walls with its neighbors . . .
In terms of number of floors, most cottages have the standard two floors (ground and first, as it’s called in England), though there are occasional exceptions:
And there are “bungalows,” (equivalent to the American “ranch house”), which are all on one level.
Increasingly, there are what are derisively referred to as “executive boxes,” modern 4-5 bedroom houses meant to turn the little Derbyshire villages into soulless suburbs of Derby, Nottingham, Sheffield, and Manchester.
There are very few basements in Derbyshire houses, unlike in America, where just about every home has a basement or cellar. The reason for this lack of basements is that the sandstone and limestone strata are very close to the surface. The only way to create a basement would be to blast or chip through the thick layer of stone. Therefore, almost all housing here is built up, not down.
In terms of size, there is the palatial . . .
. . . and the not-so-palatial:
There is the traditional “character” cottage (meaning built several centuries ago, made of the local stone or possibly brick, with historic features such as original woodwork, beams, inglenook fireplaces, and mullioned windows):
. . . and the not-so-character cottage.
There is the historic, like this Grade II-listed house built in the 1600s . . . . . . and the completely unhistoric, like this rendering of brick row houses that have yet to be built and look as if they’re constructed of Legos:
There are the gorgeous interiors . . .
. . . the not-so-gorgeous interiors . . .
and the truly horrifying:
There are rooms so bereft of furniture and charm as to be majorly depressing:
There’s the bathroom with a dark gray/pink/green bathroom combination:
A creative “birds-eye view” of the bathroom:
There’s the sweet, clearly much-loved child’s bedroom which makes you think you can’t possibly take this away from her.
There’s the “I’ve never seen anything quite like this”:
This photo makes you wonder that if this is a new home, as it says it is, perhaps the kitchen could have been done a little differently?
There’s the kitchen that looks perhaps just a tad too crowded:
And the kitchen that makes you wonder where all these doors go to?
And there’s the photo that makes me think that I have no idea what this could possibly be, but please don’t tell me because I really really don’t want to have this image in my head.
But mostly, there’s the history-filled traditional character cottage, which I would love to have a chance to own. But first I have to find it.Next post: My idea about what’s available and what I can afford takes a battering.