17 December 2010
It is hard to imagine the effort that must have gone into keeping Eastnor warm in winter before the days of central heating. Every room had a fireplace, so footmen must have been very busy carrying supplies of coal and wood all over the house. There is an old coal lift in the cellars and a large firewood store to receive timber from the estate. But I am sure the family kept away from Eastnor in the winter and wore much thicker clothes when they did venture down from London.
My grandfather put the first wave of central heating in during the 1930s, writing to his sister to say she would no longer freeze in her bedroom when she came to stay. But when my brother and I were brought up here in the 1950s, the heating was only put on for special occasions, and we otherwise relied on wood-burning stoves, then imported specially from Denmark, and open fires. The kitchen was kept warm by an Aga, burning solid fuel. We became adept at splitting logs and working a special lift to take logs up from the cellars.
Now we have a business here as a wedding venue and corporate events venue, the house has to be kept at a good temperature all the time. The flagstones of the Great Hall heat up and provide a good reservoir of heat, as long as the massive radiators are working. We have replaced the old boilers with some that are more fuel-efficient, insulated the roofs and fitted numerous different circuits so we need only heat the areas in use. One day, we will consider a wood chip or ground-source system, but for the time being we save fuel by turning the heating off when we do not have a booking. JH-B 17th December 2010