Stoner’s Room‘The Room’ in a longhouse wasn’t for everyday use. It was where the parents of the family slept and perhaps spent some leisure time together. Otherwise, the Room was kept for best, and when visitors came.
No-one has lived in this house since Duncan Stoner Munro died in 1937, From then until the early 1960s this room was a potato store. We have set it out as it might have been in the 1930s. The room originally had two box beds, like in the Kitchen. We think they were removed when the house was modernised in 1907, as part of the work of installing the staircase providing access to the two upstairs bedrooms. These were also created in 1907.
The bed here looks more comfortable than the short box beds in the Kitchen. However, the box beds would almost certainly have been much warmer. The beds here had mattresses stuffed with horsehair. Earlier mattresses were often stuffed with straw, holding bedbugs, mites and, fleas. Straw mattresses were also a terrible fire risk – before electricity, light came from the naked flames of oil lamps and candles.[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignnone" width="800"] The family in their Sunday Best[/caption]
The Room was a place to display the few nice things that people had – we know that Duncan Stoner owned a gramophone. The people of the township had very few possessions. Even if the money was available, which it often wasn’t, before cars, they had few opportunities to go to town to buy things. Furniture would often be home made, children had few toys, and both men and women often had only one set of good clothes – their ‘Sunday Best’.
The Room was also the only place where the good china would be used. For everyday use in the kitchen, Duncan Stoner and his family had cheap but gaudily-decorated spongeware, made in Fife. They would also have had a tea set of better quality china. Even if it was only used occasionally, owning it was a sign of social status.
Another expensive (but useful) possession was a sewing machine. In 1867 the American Singer Sewing Machine Company set up a manufacturing unit in Glasgow. By 1885 it had moved to Clydebank, and was the largest sewing machine factory in the world. Families in the countryside could order machines from advertisements in newspapers. Many families bought these machines, simplifying and speeding-up the work of making and repairing clothes.