Kimbolton, Huntingdonshire. Not a place that many people have heard of, but a place which is now home to me, my partner and our collective clutter. I suppose that I should not be calling our shared possessions clutter, but for now, in our tiny one bedroom 17th century cottage, they form an assault course of sorts, threatening to send us tumbling down our narrow staircase, knocking our flailing limbs against the crooked beams. I’m bruised, grubby, absolutely knackered, but we’re finally in. We’re low on furniture, funds, and energy, but I couldn’t be happier.
Zoopla is to blame. It possesses a dangerous attribute, allowing you to search using a keyword. My chosen keyword, was, “beams”. No property would appear unless it was propped up with pieces of oak of varying sizes, strengths and beauty. A number of houseboats crept into this search and this was unacceptable (doesn’t Zoopla know I suffer from motion sickness?!), so I refined it further. “Grade II listed”. We were now looking at properties with beams of historical significance. I must confess that this was all a fantasy. We were Londoners, living in separate flats carved out of dilapidated Victorian terraces at opposite ends of the Capital. At least he was in Pimlico, fundamentally boring but you could at least rely on Westminster council to take your rubbish. Holloway is perhaps most treacherous on a windy day, when plastic bags are liable to whip you about the ankles, whilst dust is simultaneously exfoliating your corneas.
No competition:Anyway, back to Kimbolton, and Carnaby Cottage. It is a particularly photogenic accumulation beams, bricks, and wattle and daub. I was trawling through small piles of grade II listed detached houses studded with beams that were basically anywhere but London, and this little place caught my eye. After a very brief look through the photographs and a quick prowl on street view – and not a glance at the description – I deemed it worthy of sending to C, via link. We’d both been bombarding each other with these links, but I like to think that I was the star house-hunter, as he favoured ‘On the Market’. Come on, it doesn’t have a keyword search function! We’d never heard of Kimbolton, and we’d certainly never been to Huntingdonshire. As far as I was concerned, it was flat, devoid of character, and dominated by vast swathes of bleak agricultural land. Oops!
We both agreed that this was a fantastic find. Here was listed, detached house – with beams – in the grounds of a church. The cottage is actually set within a corner of the churchyard, and one of our closest neighbours is a rather majestic yet not grandiose eighteenth-century tomb. This is perhaps the reason why this house hadn’t been snapped up! There are only a handful of scattered tombs however, and they are situated within a beautifully managed church green, which forms the heart of the village. St Andrews Church boasts fine features of Early English Gothic architecture, and having being remodelled in the perpendicular period, displays exquisite fourteenth-century carving and fifteenth-century oak panel paintings. Magnificent.
Perhaps the most enticing feature for C was the small separate garden. Gardening was at this time, his most recent interest, and we’d acquired a small North London allotment as a creative outlet, and he’d spent many hours selecting flowers, vegetables, fruits and herbs that would suit his increasingly ambitions designs. Who pleaches a Morello cherry tree in Totteridge?! However, this garden, or patch of land, had a feature that was coveted by us both; a slow-moving, meandering river full of fish, ducklings, moorhens and other faunae that we were yet to spot. Never mind the flood-risk, the impractical slope of the garden, or the boisterous pigeons, it is a beautiful spot. We’d fallen in love; it was the first house we’d viewed.