Auchindrain Township | Bell a Phuill’s House
21656
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Bell a Phuill’s House

Bell a Phuill’s House

 For more than fifty years, this one-room house was home to Isabella McCallum, known as Bell a’Phuill (Bell who lives by the muddy place).  It is typical of the houses cottars lived in places like Auchindrain.

Tucked under a single rowan tree, Bell’s House lies low in the township’s landscape. It is close to the stream, and the place where a ford formed (the muddy place!), before we built a small bridge.

The roof is thatched with “rashes” (rushes), which grow on the wet ground all around the township.  Despite its tiny size we know it was once home to three people – the 1841 census records it as being occupied by the 25-year-old Donald Munro, one of the tenants, along with a 14-year-old farm worker and the 19-year-old Bell as housekeeper and farm worker.  Bell lived elsewhere in the township for most of the 1840s and 50s, but returned here sometime after 1857 and stayed until she died in 1915.

[caption id="attachment_21659" align="alignnone" width="731"]Bell a’Phuill’s House, from the 1890s photograph Bell a’Phuill’s House, from the 1890s photograph[/caption]

The walls of this house are better quality than those of some of the township’s larger and more important buildings. There is a township tradition that it was built by stonemasons from the castle in Inveraray. At some point the house may have needed major repairs, and been rebuilt for Bell.  Perhaps Duke George authorised this as an act of charity for an old woman, providing the expert masons from his staff.

[caption id="attachment_22878" align="alignnone" width="800"]Bell's house being thatched. Bell’s house being thatched.[/caption]

Originally, all of the township’s roofs would have been thatched like Bell’s House. Thatch is a cheap but effective roof – better materials like slate or tile were unavailable, or too expensive.  Wheat straw and reed make the best thatch, but various different materials can be used. In the past, the choice depended on what was available. To read more about thatching, click here.

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