The house that time forgot

Cambridgeshire man lives 1940s lifestyle - right down to the outside loo

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Ben Sansum's 1940s house

Despite his decidedly modern job as cabin crew for British Airways, 35-year-old Ben Sansum prefers to live in an earlier era.

His Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire home is kitted out entirely in 1940s style, with everything from a bakelite phone to flying ducks on the walls. His bedroom contains a candlewick bedspread and rag rug, and his kitchen shelves house old cartons of Rinso and Sunlight soap.
And it's not all just for show. Sansum uses a Ewbank carpet sweeper to keep his 70-year-old carpet clean - he says it works brilliantly - and listens to Vera Lynn on the gramophone. He gets up at four in the morning every day to light his range cooker. He does his laundry with a mangle and even uses an outside loo - complete with torn-up squares of newspaper for loo roll.

Sansum does, though, make some concessions to modern life. Because his period phone doesn't work properly, he needs to use a modern one to make outgoing calls. He also has a flat-screen television - carefully concealed behind a rack of 1940s magazines - and a fridge.

Click on the images below to take a virtual tour of the house

Inside the 1940s house

Inside the 1940s house


Sansum says he was initially inspired as a child by his grandparents' wartime stories. Later, after watching the 1987 film Hope and Glory, set during the London blitz, he started furnishing his father's shed.

"One of the first things I got was a radio but it blew up because of the modern current," he tells the Daily Mirror.

"Then I got an antique table and then I wanted props, like newspapers and wallpaper. I gradually created something like my present home on a smaller scale."

Until recently, wartime furniture and accessories could be picked up in junk shops for a song. Gradually, though, they have become more collectable. Websites such as Mid Century highlight the decorative trends of the era, and enthusiasts stage regular vintage fairs.

For Sansum, this means sourcing items is harder than it was when he first started collecting. "I was only 15 and it was easy to get my hands on stuff, but now anything vintage is hugely popular," he says.
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