Search

Book celebrates Wells house move

PUBLISHED: 16:47 27 May 2009 | UPDATED: 10:51 07 July 2010

There's moving house and there's moving house.

Forget any ideas that moving home can be one of the most stressful experiences in life because all that pales into insignificance when compared to the remarkable true story of gutsy spinster May Savidge who, over a 23-year-old period, demolished her precious home in Hertfordshire before the bulldozers got to it, transported its materials to the Norfolk seaside town of Wells, and painstakingly re-built it brick-by-brick.

There's moving house and there's moving house.

Forget any ideas that moving home can be one of the most stressful experiences in life because all that pales into insignificance when compared to the remarkable true story of gutsy spinster May Savidge who, over a 23-year-old period, demolished her precious home in Hertfordshire before the bulldozers got to it, transported its materials to the Norfolk seaside town of Wells, and painstakingly re-built it brick-by-brick.

It sounds unbelievable that such a mammoth feat could be achieved by anyone, let alone an elderly lady but it is very much a true story.

Now for the first time, May's niece, Christine Adams, with Michael McMahon, has written a book recounting her aunt's determined battle to save her beloved home from demolition in the face of the construction of a new roundabout on busy Ware High Street by moving it to the charming town of Wells. Its pages are filled with graphic, atmospheric black and white photographs showing May at various stages in the demolition and re-construction process.

What makes May's story, entitled A Lifetime in the Building : The Extraordinary Story of May Savidge and the House She Moved, even more remarkable is that as well as spending years carefully re-assembling each brick, each timber and each joist almost like a giant jigsaw puzzle, May filled the property with all manner of everyday items she collected.

It was filled to the gunnels with everything she ever possessed including bus tickets, items of clothing, and her voluminous daily diary.

When worn out by the sheer size of her project, her slight body beaten and battered by all weathers she became ill and died. She had bequeathed the still unfinished house to her niece to finish, leaving behind an amazing archive of her life.

And as Christine, 65, discovered when she embarked on the daunting task of sorting through May's house she started to unravel a amazing tale which spanned her days from being an engineer designing the Mosquito plane to heartbreaking love affairs.

Last night Christine, who now leaves in the house where she runs a bed and breakfast business, paid tribute to the indomitable spirit of her aunt but also admitted that because May's life had been so full and eclectic, the new book still only tells half the story.

“My aunt May was a truly remarkable lady who was a woman ahead of her time and despite coming up against so many hurdles in pursuit of her passion to re-build her house, she carried on regardless. My promise to her before she died was that I would complete her unfinished work on the house and now I have done this,” said Christine.

She added : “I have to say that working on the house and sorting out the mass of material that May filled it with has also taken a chunk out of my own life and now I feel I most move on to other things.”

t A Lifetime in the Building by Christine Adams, is due to be published by Aurum. It is available from bookshops at £16.99.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad. Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our community has ever faced, but if we all play our part we will defeat it. We're here to serve as your advocate and trusted source of local information.

In these testing times, your support is more important than ever. Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Fakenham and Wells Times