Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hobbit houses

Round-headed doors are not all that common, but when they do crop up they're usually on Period Revival style homes. I'm not talking about the elegant cool neo-classical ellipse, but a dear cosy little round-headed door and doorway. They're often set in a little cross-gable porch or projection, to complement that cozy cottage feel.
Period (Tudor) Revival in Picton - note hood moulding
Another, in Belleville
Round-headed doors make me think of hobbit houses, all warm and sheltering -although technically, their doors were completely, perfectly round. These round doors make me think that warm cozy folks live behind them, ready to throw them open invitingly, with tea on the hob and something warm ready to eat:

"In the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats – the hobbit was fond of visitors. " 
- J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Old East Hill welcome
Bell cast roof
Queen Street welcome home
 Belleville's Old East Hill has a significant number of round-headed doors on English Cottage/Cotswold Cottage/Period Revival homes.

I love how the little front gable entry on this nice stucco home looks like a tiny perfect playhouse. 
I want to give the last word in this post to another quite different round-headed door in another quite different style of house. The house is a red brick Victorian farmhouse. It stands close to the United Church in Queensborough (the village I came to love last last winter). This house is special because it is the United Church manse - the home where the minister and his family lived and served their community. I know this because a lovely friend (one I have yet to meet) grew up there. Katherine Sedgewick was one of the children of the United Church minister, and grew up in the house in the 1960's and 70's. Now Katherine lives and works in Montreal. Just recently, she and her husband made the loveliest journey back in time - they bought the manse, and are lovingly restoring it as a weekend home...falling in love once again with the village, the people, and the house.

The manse has a round-headed door! Not a front door, but a second floor door leading from the room which was her father's study. I can imagine a little girl standing at the hall door watching a dad at his desk, crafting a sermon. She's reluctant to enter. Her mother's appeal -"don't disturb your father"- deters the dutiful child from a snuggle from this beloved parent.

This warm cozy story continues daily. Katherine is a wonderful story-teller. Her tales of the Manse can be found at her blog 'Meanwhile, at the manse'. Do visit at

the little round-headed door at the Manse - thanks Katherine

No comments:

Post a Comment