1900 House

RTB got me thinking when he asked:

“What – if anything – happened to The 1900 House? I can’t find any mention of it on the Greenwich Council website. Did it get sold to a private individual?”

Lord – I’d completely forgotten that 2000 series – where Channel 4 bought a house in Charlton (50, Elliscombe Road) ripped out all the electricity, kitchen and – well anything post-1900 – and took it back to what it would have been like at the turn of the last century. Then they shipped in a rather irritating family to live the life of a late-Victorian household for three months as one of the first (and therefore rather more valid) reality TV doccos.

I thought I’d better take another look at the series – it’s available on Amazon – though if you’re planning to do the same, make sure you get the Region 2 version – apparently the Region 1 edition has a syrupy American voiceover.

The first programme is easily the most interesting to anyone who lives in one of the hundreds of houses like 50 Elliscombe Road round here. It shows how the specialists ripped out a particularly horrible flat conversion – though they admit the very fact that it was so badly done meant that much of the original stuff was still there under layers of hardboard and cowboy extension (which the council, btw, had no record of…)

I was riveted by it. I’ve been in dozens of these houses – and here was one looking just like it would have done. I confess the finished article wasn’t really to my taste – very dark and gloomy and full of clutter, reminding me of my Great Aunt’s house when I was a nipper (yeah, yeah chez Phantom is full of clutter too, but it’s not china doggies or uplifting framed Bible tracts. Well – not many, anyway.) I was particularly amused, on a second viewing, to see, on the wall a print entitled Return of the Sword. How do I know this? Because it turned up every week for about two years at Greenwich Auctions sometime around 2004…

The rest of the programme was mildly interesting, but I found the people annoying – especially wife. She was so bloomin’ grumpy – almost from the start, despite it being her idea in the first place. But then I guess I can be one grumpy Phantom too at times, and perhaps Phantoms had a hard time in those days too, having to loom around M.R. James stories and in Wilkie Collins romances…

There’s a book to go with the series, available from Amazon Marketplace for 1p (+ P&P) which is excellent – compulsory reading for anyone who lives in one of those terraced houses and wants to know what it would have looked like.

But back to RTB’s question. What became of the house?

I’ve done a couple of searches, and the first sale I can find was back in 2000, presumably by Ch 4 after the programme. It went for £180,000. I have no idea what became of it, but I’ll wager it didn’t stay without electricity and central heating for long and I’m presuming that the outside loo has come in from the cold. The place was sold again in March 2002, for £300,000, adding three zeros to its initial Victorian price of £300.

I took a little walk around, and, as you can see from the pic, externally at least, little has changed.

Does anyone know the people now at 50, Elliscombe Road – or do you live there yourself? Let a nosy Phantom know what it’s like now. Did you keep any of the features? What about the outside loo?

I’d just love to know…

17 Comments to “1900 House”

  1. Hegs says:

    Hi, I’m just wondering what happened to the house. What happened to the Bowler family?

  2. Joyce Bowler says:

    Hello! I’m the grumpy and irritating woman who lived in the ’1900 House’. You might be a bit miffed if you were filmed for 6 days solid for 24 minutes of edited material every week! We were bloody fabulous and you know it. The children were outstanding but little or nothing of them ended up in the finished article. The dirctors and producer had an early whiff of the sensationalism that was to be theirs in future reality programmes. The house ended up being modernised of course with a snazzy loft conversion. Any more questions? Best wishes, Joyce.

  3. tee hee – yes, I can only imagine what ended up on the cutting room floor. I’m sure it sounded like more fun to start with than it actually ended up being.

  4. Actually, yes – I do have a question. Has the experience affected you and the family long term? And what do you think of the house being modernised – was it a relief to see it go?

  5. Joyce Bowler says:

    It was a lovely house and just as we got good at living there they turfed us out! I would have stayed – I liked the area & the people in the street. We haven’t changed much. I gave talks for a year or so to the W.I etc for charity, did a lecture at the Tate, loads of publicity in the US, was a talking head on various chat shows and then it all stopped. Never watched that much TV and still don’t. I kept the corset. I have fond memories now but still like the book best. I wonder who does live there now? Might drop them a postcard. We’re living in New Zealand now for a year or two. Now that’s an experience!!best wishes Joyce

  6. Happy times, Joyce. I confess I prefer the book myself too. Happy times in NZ.

  7. Chelimar says:

    I have a question as well! What was the name of the book used during the time in the house that was used as a guide? I’m curious if there’s anything like that for the year 2010.

  8. sarah says:

    Joyce- you were my star for a while – I so envied you and your experiences. I loved that house – it was almost identical to mine just a few miles away in Leytonstone E London. I loved what they did with it and the every day buggeration of trying to live in it as it would have been. I would have kept the corset too (wish the figure that went with it was so eas!y) I would kill for the opportunity to give life there a go.

    One thing, though, bothers me big time. What did you, as a Mum, worry about most? _ the kids got very little input in the TV series and their lives must have been changed more than anyone else’s. What was the effect of all that time on them? I want to do a weekend at the Acton Scott Victorian cotttage ( as seen on Victorian Farm) but am concerned about the way the kids react to such a huge lifestyle change Would value your advice, as someone who has had the chance to’ be there’
    thanks once again – sharing your trials re shampoo, chickens et all was wonderfully informative and quite emotional. May I be nosy and ask why New Zealand?

    Take care

  9. smw says:

    oh my word, I was just reading this book last week and wondering what became of the family. Joyce, it would appear your spirit remained in tact.
    Tell me, one thing always puzzled me, why did you not use the free time Elizabeth afforded you to put your money where your mouth was and volunteer for The Fawcett Society or similarly appropriate charity on NGO instead of terminating her employment and leaving her without an income – a harsh thing to do to a woman of her means in 1900?

  10. Eddi says:

    I watched this series with great interest as I grew up at Number 53, the house opposite the Bowlers. My father was still living there at the time when Joyce and her family were there and I have to tell you we were completely spooked out by the story of a wife who shot her husband dead in our home back in 1900….all those ‘Victorian’ creakings we used to hear in the night took on a whole different meaning, lol!

  11. jackie says:

    Hi, I’ve just been watching this on TV recently…can’t believe it’s been 10 years.

    I was riveted by the programme originally and family, as a child in the late 50′s & 60′s we still had a sort of Victorian life, outdoor loo, mangle, only a cold tap in the kitchen etc etc….real fires only in 2 rooms and learnt how to set and start a fire at age 8.! And a family with 7 children in a 3 bed terrace to boot.

    My question (if this thread is still being followed) is…

    Would it have made a difference if it had been set in winter months?
    Would children nowadays cope with “jack frost” on the inside of their bedroom windows, the loo freezing, having to shovel coal in from the back alleyway, the washing having to be done in colder circumstances (where WOULD it have been dried)….we used to use a pull up airer and balanced nappies on the fireguard to steam!!

    All the best, I doubt if any thirty somethings could survive the experiment for a week let alone a few months.

    Wonder if us 50 somethings are a bit tougher for our upbringings. I STILL don’t take for granted the central heating, TV, warm soft towels in the indoor bathroom, the 3 loos that I have.

  12. Mazer says:

    The 1900 had a loft conversion and was modernised and is back in the market for around £580,000. Perhaps a little ambitious…

  13. Mary Woodall says:

    I always used to watch the 1900 house and still look back on at it now? i thought it was a beautiful house.

  14. nancy says:

    no cable on Sunday due to hurricane irene in ny. my daughter, age 14 an I watched 1900 house on video tape. my daughter said she would have liked to experience 1900 for 3 months.
    we live in a 1874 victorian and I agree with joyce, I love it and hate it. our home is furnished with collectibles and victoriana and appears very old fashioned compared to her friends’ homes. this has been her home so this is all she knows. it was nice to vview 1900 house together to see life over 100 years ago.
    I went to this site for a 2011 update on the bowlers and the 1900 house. thank you.

  15. M says:

    If Joyce ever reads this,it’s 2011 and I just finished watching (2nd time around and sometimes back to back episodes as I couldn’t stop watching). Just fabulous. At this point in time you come away wanting to know what your children are doing with their lives. Can’t get my head around your little boy, then 9 (age of my little boy now) will now be 21 … truly weird. Loved watching you all.

  16. becky bellord says:

    as above – if Joyce ever reads this…

    When I initially watched the series I was not a Mother and also found Joyce grumpy BUT I would like to apologise for this as having just watched the series again recently (and now being a mother of 4). I absolutely loved her and felt for her. I live in a house built in 1890 and even with all mod’ cons’ it drives me potty!

    I too was wondering where the family are now and what all the children are doing. The children were fabulous.

    I would also love to know what the maid Elizabeth is up to…

    Loved watching you all in 2000 – loved it even more in 2011 – thank you

  17. Kristin says:

    And now it is 2012 and this thread still continues. I just found this wonderful show on Youtube and watched the entire thing in one day. I didn’t find Joyce grumpy a bit. She was amazing in what she was facing and learning all with the cameras rolling. A lovely heart and a willingness to share the shock of what she experienced. I too wonder what the kids got out of this long term. I certainly have a different impression of the Victorian period myself. The stove and clothes and lack of women’t rights I had considered previously. The laundry I had not…