Who lived in a house like this?

LOOKING BACK: This picture was taken in one of the rooms of a house in Springfield Terrace, just across the road from where I lived. It belonged to the man who founded Austin Steel Works, James Austin, and the house was named after him, Austin Friars. This picture shows the kind of furniture which would have been in Marlborough House.
LOOKING BACK: This picture was taken in one of the rooms of a house in Springfield Terrace, just across the road from where I lived. It belonged to the man who founded Austin Steel Works, James Austin, and the house was named after him, Austin Friars. This picture shows the kind of furniture which would have been in Marlborough House.
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DIFFERENT things interest different people which is why I try to write something different every week.

This week I am writing about the kind of furniture Dewsbury people would have had in their homes, rich and poor alike.

All I can remember of grandma’s home was a sideboard, a kitchen table and a horse-hair settee which scratched my legs when I sat on it.

The reason I can only remember only these is because that’s probably all she had, and I never remember venturing upstairs.

She didn’t have any carpets, only a pricked rug in front of the hearth, and her chamber steps were just bare wood.

Only a few yards further up the road in the big Victorian houses things were a lot different. Passing them every day I used to long to go inside and see what they were like.

I wanted to know how many rooms they had, what were they for, and what kind of furniture did they have?

I never got answers to these questions so I had to use my imagination, and that’s where my passion for old houses began.

They are still my passion. I love trying to uncover their secrets, finding out who once lived there, and what part did they play in Dewsbury life.

We didn’t have glossy magazines or televisions to show us how others lived and so had nothing else but our imaginations to rely on. Mine used to run wild as I walked to school along Halifax Road, stopping at every big house and trying to peep over garden walls.

Even now, when I walk past them, I long to knock on the door and ask if I can look inside.

There is one house in particular, it is ivy clad and set behind huge gates and high stone walls, and I long to go inside.

I used to walk past it two or three times a day and not once did I see the gates open. I still call it my mystery house.

Someone once told me it had been the home of the Vicar of Batley Carr Parish Church, and I promise myself one day I’ll make time to find out.

Nearby is another house, Marlborough House, once the home of wealthy Dewsbury businessman, Duke Fox Esq.

I wrote about it some weeks ago and the owner read my article and kindly invited me up, which I hope to do soon. I can’t wait.

Marlborough House was sold in 1920 following the death of its owner, Mr Fox, and all the household contents were sold by public auction.

Most of the furniture was listed in the public notices column in the Reporter, and reading them today gives one a glimpse of what the inside of this house would have looked like.

The items were auctioned in the house itself, and prospective purchasers would have walked through the various rooms to view them.

After reading the list myself nearly 100 years later, I was able to visualise how beautiful this furniture would have been, and I wondered if there might be still pieces around somewhere in Dewsbury.

It made me think that perhaps other readers might like to see the list. It will at least give you a chance to walk with me through Marlborough House, if only in imagination, and take a look at furniture which would have once had pride of place.

THE auction took place over three days and admission could only be obtained by purchasing a catalogue priced six pence.

The items listed were as follows:

Excellent dining room furniture in American walnut, also best quality Axminster, Wilton and Turkey carpets, window curtains and draperies, some interesting examples of antique furniture, including carved black oak cabinet, six oak inlaid chairs, satin wood inlaid bureau, several fine old oak desks.

Sheraton and oak corner cupboards, a charming miniature long case clock in Sheraton case, chiming bracket clock, two exceptionally good convex mirrors, old mahogany chests, oak delft back, fine tall boy chest etc.

Specimens of old china, amongst which are part of a Crown Derby tea and coffee set, part of an old decorated lustre tea set, oriental and other china.

Entrance hall furniture, china and glass, a small library of well selected books.Cutlery, excellent best plated goods and some nice pieces of silver.

Drawing room equipment in fine mahogany and inlaid rosewood, specimen cabinets, a fine inlaid china cabinet, lofty mantel and pier glasses, a 7 octave pianoforte by Bluthner in walnut case.

A valuable collection of oil paintings, amongst which are examples by David Bates, F P Wild, A Went, Atkinson, Grimshaw, J Burras, Henry Garland, E T Jones and a very fine water colour, View of York with The Minster in the Distance, and other drawings, some fine proof engravings, and other black and white works.

A small cellar of choice wines and spirits, ornamental items, marble and other clocks, Cloissonne vases, glass and china, a 9ft mahogany winged bookcase, a superb mahogany and inlaid large size bedroom suite, a 6ft walnut and inlaid bedroom suite and other bedroom furniture in ash and birch fumed mahogany and brass French bedsteads and bedding, bed linen and blankets.