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Millbank Prison in the 1820s
This is a letter from my house…
Dear New Family,
I know that you are interested in me. I can feel it, and it is good to be desired again. I have been neglected for such a long time.
On the face of it, I am just another vertical slice of a Victorian terraced house. But come on, look closer. I was built in the late 1840s. I have seen it all. You know, the Millbank prison was just down the road. Every person sentenced to transportation was sent here first, and then to Australia. Several thousands of persons convicted of petty crimes, such as stealing an egg because they were hungry, walked here before leaving. You can still see the buttress on the embankment. I remember their fears and also their hopes of building a new life. Some were so young!
I am crumbling. The ceiling of the study is about to collapse, and the gutter on the roof is leaking. You see, they have never been changed, and are full of old memories of the sad faces leaving London.
I was rented by the room at the time. The turnover was high. Musicians, road sweepers, office workers, engineers and dress makers all lived here. Pimlico was becoming fashionable, and Millbank in those days was industrial with a Coconut Fibre factory, the Imperial Flour Mills and the Cement Works. I was stuck between the two, and loving the energy.
You know, I have seen lots of Chelsea men going to the house at the end of the street for some illicit entertainment. They looked happy and passably drunk.
The infamous prison eventually closed down in the 1890s and was replaced by the Tate Britain. You will love it. I can’t recommend highly enough the Turner collection. You could go there every week-end.
In 1928, all of Millbank and a good part of Pimlico were flooded. You had to be resilient to survive this. I was. All of Pimlico was. But you don’t need to worry. The Thames barriers will protect you now. You will be safe here.
I survived World War II. Some houses on this street were bombed. I wasn’t. Have a look at Atterbury Street, and you will see the scars on the walls. I was one of the lucky ones. I am a survivor.
I can see that you have two daughters. They are going to the same school than the family who moved in after the war. Both did very well and went to Oxbridge. What are you waiting for? I am exactly what you need. I am sure that their Dad will renovate me. He seems to like me too.
The last owner had two dogs and two cats. They were clearly passionate about their pets. As you have seen, I just have a small patio. I am still angry about having to accommodate so many animals, it is so unfair on them in central London. I think that you can smell it. Don’t worry, it will all go away. When one of the cats died, the owner stuffed it to keep the other cat company.
I know that, when you are talking about me, you are calling me the Stuffed Cat’s house. I don’t really mind. I am making my way into your heart and you know it.
What is the price of your own piece of London anyway? Welcome home!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • Great Post. I love it. I have always wanted my house to have a name you are so creative! Your posts are always so interesting.

  • I like this. Yes, I do like this. Very much.

  • Wow, to have a piece of history like that! What a delicious thought! I enjoyed the ‘voice’ in this writing, Muriel :-))

  • Not only is the cat stuffed but it is anonymous, which is very wrong! Every cat, even a stuffed cat should have a name – So I’m starting the ball rolling on naming MuMu’s cat. I propose calling him / her (the stuffing may have blurred the gender) “Taxidermia” on the grounds it will encourage your Blogistas to come up with a better name!

  • Wonderful Muriel! Your house is a true home with a history all of its’ own. A true antique that has stories deep within its’ being. Your family will be another layer, another story. How wonderful!

  • Love it! My own house was built in 1911 and I wish I knew as much about it. =)

  • What a wonderful house! I always wanted to live in an old house full of history and character…no such luck…but I still wish occasionally. Lucky you!

    ~cath xo
    @jonesbabie on Twitter

  • Fascinating post and the way you personalize the house and its history. Near Millbank Prison, last place convicts saw before being sent to Australia (never to come back again). Pimlico flooding bombings, the 60s. A flash of London’s history through the eyes of a Victorian terraced house. The Stuffed Cat’s House. What a wonderful place to live!

  • Hey Muriel,

    Had so much fun reading the post. I love living in houses, a lot better than apartments. Maybe I am sadist for leaky roofs and broken floors! But if it has survived a war then you need to give it all that credit.

    So what are you saying to your house then…how are you replying to the letter. You should do a post on that too 😉

  • You are so lucky to know so much about your wonderful home 🙂

  • Great post, I loved the way the house wrote in the first person, very clever.
    I laughed about the stuffed cat – how quirky and fits in perfectly with your story.
    I love you have incorporated the history of the place into your story – really enjoyed this.

  • Great post, Muriel. 🙂 I was absorbed by the house’s history and warm welcome. But, now all I can think about is that cat!

  • Muriel, you totally had me thinking about the history of my home back in Vancouver. It’s not as old as yours, but it sure did have a history before we moved in 25 years ago. =) I always want to write a story for it based on the time *we’ve* been there! Loved your creative take on this! =)

  • Wonder what my flat would say if it could talk to me. Am pretty sure it’s never known animals but would love to know about all those people who’ve lived inside it…how wonderful you know even a little about your house’s former inhabitants!

  • Hello Muriel –

    WOW. What a creative writer woman you are and thoroughly enjoyed reading you here. I’ll buy you….errrr the house. I will renew your glory to the days of yesteryear and you will never go hungry. I will fill the fridge with so much yummy treats, you will feel like a 24/7 joyous buffet. A very nicely written and creative story, Muriel. 🙂

  • Hi Muriel,

    What a wonderful way to write a post. A new perspective and I have learned a lot about this home. So much history and it’s always lovely to hear stories of when then houses were built as well as what they went through.

    Loved it!

  • I love it when you write about your home!