In 1969, when the town of Hertfordshire, Great Britain, sent bulldozers to oust May Savidge from her home in order to build a new road, she wasn’t about to go quietly.
May, then 58, dug in her heels. She was determined to preserve Ware Hall House, the historic 15th century home that she had bought and painstakingly restored by hand. In a letter to the city council, she declared, “If this little house is really in the way, I would rather move it and re-erect it than see it destroyed.”
True to her word, May Savidge picked up the pieces of her house as it was torn down, numbering each component carefully. With help from friends, strangers, and a local demolition team, she hauled everything from oak beams to leaded glass panes over 100 miles to a new site in the coastal town of Wells-next-to-the-Sea.
“I just won’t have such a marvelous old house bulldozed into the ground,” May said. “I’ve got nothing to do all day, so I might as well do the job myself.”
While reconstructing her home from the ground up, May had no electricity, but she shrugged off the often cold weather and worked by the light of paraffin lamps in the company of her dog, Sasha.
“My mother brought us up on the maxim that there is no such word as ‘can’t,’” she told the Fakenham Ladies Circle Club in 1971.
A little over a decade later, May moved into the reconstructed shell of her home once again, continuing her labor of love throughout the rest of her life. She finally installed a wood
May left the partially finished home to her niece, Christine Adams, who completed the restoration and wrote a book in tribute to her aunt called A Lifetime in the Building: The Extraordinary Story of May Savidge and the House She Moved.
Learn more about May Savidge and her incredible life’s work here:
“Moving house: How a little old lady spent 23 years single-handedly dismantling her cottage brick by brick and rebuilding it 100 miles away” by Zoe Brennan, The Daily Mail.
This is my kind of gal! Would love to read it. Sadly our local library does not have it. The hunt is on.