One of the most outstanding features of Rushmere St Andrew is the fine timber house known as ‘Columbia House’ shown in the photograph above. The story goes that it was built by local timber merchant John Brown for the Royal Agricultural Show of 1934 as an elaborate gimmick to sell timber. The then Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) attended the show and was said to have, ‘Taken tea in the lounge’. It seems certain that the Prince of Wales attended the 1934 show as there is a record of the visit on the Pathé News.
The story however, goes on to say that after the show the house was transported to its present location on Playford Road. Just how would one transport a house from the showground to Playford Road?
We can confirm that the house was indeed displayed at the Suffolk Show and transported to Playford Road. Of course the house has been added to since then. But the old photos reproduced here give some of the history.
The kitchen photo was taken while the house was at the show as there is a plaque on the wall that declares, ‘Stoves, Sanitary Appliances and Door Fittings by E L Hunt Ltd, Ipswich and Chelmsford’.
It is interesting to note that the house while at the show did not have a chimney: it didn’t need one as it was heated by these new-fangled electric fire things. It has fireplaces but no chimney. The house grew chimneys after it was moved to its present location and extended.
There is more information in a magazine supplement ‘Timber and Plywood dated 30 June 1934’ of the house and interior as it was at the show,
Our grateful thanks to Andrew Frettingham for information and use of historical photos.