Back fence of the homestead.
All along the property.
Rebecca Nurse's home was built around 1678, though some parts of it may have been built as early as the 1630's. Not old by European standards, this is about as ancient as you're likely to find in North America. Our 17th century homes were much different, however, than their European counterparts. At this time, all of America was a wilderness, life was about surviving and taming the land. The homes were more rustic and rough here, and there is something in their austere, primitive, and unrefined way that beckons me.
There is something very comforting in the old, 17th century homes for me. Maybe it's in their smallness or darkness or crudeness. Maybe it's in their simplicity. I hold no romantic notions of what life was like back then. I would not trade my modern-day life, full of conveniences and cleanliness, for that life of drudgery and, very likely, an early death. But I do hold an appreciation for the basics of design back then; the ingenuity that stems from living simply.
A table set in the homestead's great hall.
The cupboard in the kitchen area, and back in that day a cupboard literally meant a cup-board, a simple board to put cups, etc upon.
I do love the comfort that small, intimate rooms bring me, very un-American of me, I know. Contrary to popular belief, ceilings were not so low back then because the general populace was much shorter than we are today. Yes, the average height was slightly shorter, but not dramatically so. The short ceilings were done, intelligently, because it cost so dearly to heat a home back then, and open spaces would have been a waste of wood and fuel. In the book, New England Icons, Bruce Irving says, "...the sheer amount of firewood needed to heat a typical eighteenth-century New England house boggles the mind. Farm accounts and other estimates put it in the twenty- to thirty-cord-per-winter range, equal to about an acre of forest..." That truly does boggle my mind! Life today seems a breeze in comparison. Though I do wonder if the ease of living now has led us to fill our time with an overabundance of complicated, stress-inducing activity that has no lasting value.
A bedroom window.
17th century bedroom
The past-season kitchen garden
Herbs left to dry by the walk-in fireplace.
Life was difficult for everyone back then, including children, but it also must have taken much less to amuse and entertain themselves.When every day was practically a battle between life and death, the little things meant so much more. Tragedy and toil was a part of their daily existence.
For Thanksgiving, we went to Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. That was a generation or two before most of this homestead was built, and life was truly basic, much cruder than even in this house. Like I said, I would never trade this life for that, but at least for me, there is something that longs for that simplicity for that life.