Books, life the universe

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

May Savidge

A Lifetime in the Building: the Extraordinary Story of May Savidge and the House she Moved by Christine Adams and Michael McMahon is an inspiring book. May lived in a medieval hall house in Ware - or rather she lived in part of it because at one time it had been divided into two. The planners decided in the 1950s that a new road was necessary through the centre of Ware though it was not until the late 1960s that this actually happened. May decided she didn't want to just calmly sell her house, which she had renovated, so she decided to move it - lock stock and barrel - to Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk, 100 miles away.
The book is the story of her life and the story of how she achieved her aim of living in the house again - though it was far from finished when she died in 1993. Christine Adams - married to May's nephew - finished her work and now lives in the house providing bed and breakfast accommodation to holidaymakers. The author managed to reconstruct this remarkable lady's life through the voluminous records she kept.

Every single piece of paper was retained including labels from tins and bus and train tickets. Even though this meant wading through boxes and boxes when the author first moved to the house May hoarding habit proved useful. Cigarette cards, bus tickets and theatre programmes provided a way of raising extra funds for completing May's work. The picture is how the house looks now.

The book is a poignant and heartwarming story of an indomitable spirit. May took on a project in her 60s which most people in their 20s would hesitate to tackle. For over 20 years she lived in conditions which most of us would have found impossible for a week in order to achieve her dream. I loved it.

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