Hen house, jewellery safe or solid fuel Rayburn?
My Great Auntie Sylvia, an antique dealer, had a solid fuel Rayburn in the barn. The hens loved laying in it. And it was the perfect hiding place for her lifetime’s collection of fine diamond jewellery. On a remote farm out in deepest, darkest Yorkshire Dales, Aunt Sylve’s range cooker kept her chickens safe and warm, and her personal fortune safe, for four decades.
A fox hid in the Rayburn once. Being chased by the local hunt back in the bad old days of foxhunting, it fled into Aunt Sylve’s barn. The hunt leader, fine in his pinks, was about to jump her gate on his horse and follow the fox. She saw him from the kitchen window and strode out, pinny flapping and shotgun in hand, to ward him off in no uncertain terms. He was furious.
The fox waited ‘til dusk then left. It didn’t harm a single chicken.
When she died Aunt Sylve’s farm, which was rented from the Estate nearby, reverted to its owners. We went up and cleared the place, keeping some things and selling others. But Mum took the Rayburn, had it reconditioned and installed it in her cottage. So its long and useful life continues.
Whether you’ve got a gas Aga, electric Aga or whatever, range cookers are much more than just gadgets. So what is it that gives range cookers such personality?
Some feel it’s because of the design. Unlike most cookers they’re chunky and smooth, rounded and absolutely rock solid. You can’t beat cast iron for making you feel safe. It’s as sturdy as a steam engine. Then there’s the colours. It’s hard to fall in love with an ugly white box. A vividly coloured appliance is much more visually endearing for some reason. And enamel feels so nice; luxurious, thick and creamy.
Ranges last long enough to become a part of your family history too. People are moving house less these days, looking at their home as a place to live and be happy long-term rather than a short term investment. We’re extending our homes instead of moving somewhere bigger. We’re hunkering down for the duration… and investing in top quality appliances to match.
And they’re wonderfully user-friendly. It’s easy to get fond of something so reliable and flexible that’s such a pleasure to use – the heart of your kitchen, which in turn sits at the heart of your home. Perhaps it’s not so surprising that so many of us have an Aga story.