THERE aren’t many homes built today that include a servants’ calling panel.
But Fieldway House, a sturdy 1930s detached house in Stone, was conceived at a time when many prosperous families of the English middle classes employed a live-in servant or two.
But the Bakelite buttons dotted around the house, whose design was to summon the maid with one’s afternoon tea, are not the only clue to this house’s history.
Like many homes of its kind, Fieldway House was solidly constructed and is likely to be still standing when many more modern homes are being demolished. And its current owners have a keen understanding of this sense of history.
“Not long after we moved here,” says Vernon Charles, “we decided to lay new carpets. The day before they were due to arrive we pulled up the old carpets and discovered wonderful oak floorboards. I cancelled the new carpets straight away, even though the discovery of the floors meant creating a job I hadn’t expected – sanding down the floors.”
The oaken floors are complemented by the oak doors, but these are a newer addition. Vernon happened to be in Liverpool docks one day when he witnessed the demolition of one of the quayside buildings on the Mersey.
The seasoned timbers he bought that day became hand-made doors, specifically designed in a 1930s style to match his house. “They’re fantastic,” he says. “When you shut one, not only does it keep in the heat, it muffles any outside noise.
“This is a very solidly built house,” says Veron, who, with his wife Jo and sons Josh and Jake, moved into Fieldway House 14 years ago. “It’s a big, sprawling, happy family home. We had to think long and hard before deciding to sell up and move.
“But the boys have both grown up and moved out, and my wife and I are just rattling about in the place these days. There are rooms I haven’t actually been into for months,” he admits.
Vernon and Jo have carried out plenty of work during their time at Fieldway House. There’s a new roof, new windows and full insulation. “We’ve got a very high energy efficiency rating,” says Vernon. “We’d have to add solar panels to get it any higher.”
And though the house is quite big enough, with four large bedrooms, for any family, there’s enough room in the ample loft to create two further rooms, if required.
The couple, who are both Staffordshire born, plan to move to somewhere more suited to their current needs, but are determined to stay in Stone.
“There’s no better place to live,” says Veron, whose job, installing high quality washrooms in places like the Olympic village and Canary Wharf, takes him miles from home.
“I do about 50,000 miles a year up and down the country, from the south coast to Cumbria,” he says. “So Stone is perfect for someone like me.”
With its central location and quick access to the motorway network, and with friends and family all nearby, there’s no desire to move to another part of the country, he says.