The Zimapanners

 

 

 

 

                                                

 

Life at Zimapan 
 
Tea Party, 1928
 
The Thomases 


Thomas clan gather in Scorrier

Members of Walter Parsons Thomas's family and friends travelled all the way from Anglesey, north Wales, to Scorrier, to stay with him and his second wife Angelina Hales (aka 'Grancie') at Zimapan, for a few days in September 1928.

Cornish cream tea
One sunny afternoon, they sat outside at the front of the house and enjoyed a typically English afternoon tea party of scones, strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream. Grancie thought she could make clotted cream, but Inez Grace Thomas (IGT) claims that it was "awful", like her breakfasts.1 A jam pot can be seen on the table with a spoon sticking out. A white tablecloth is spread across the tea table, and a tasselled, embroidered spread hangs down from the tea table acting as a soft under-tablecloth. Half a Dundee cake can clearly be seen in the near right-hand corner of the tea table. Walter Parsons Thomas, a Wesleyan House preacher in his spare time2, is seated on the far right of the group is holding a saucer in his left hand and a cup of tea in his right.

Zimapan Tea Party 1928
Thomas family's afternoon tea at Zimapan, Sep 1928
Photo: Smith family private photo collection

(From left to right) Margaret Parry Reynolds (IGT's mother, 38), Inez Grace Thomas (11),Betty Norman (ca. 18), empty chair next to her is
Walter David Thomas's (±19, photographer and IGT's brother), William Evans Thomas (IGT's father, 48),
Angelina Hales (aka 'Grancie', 67, wife of WPT) and Walter Parsons Thomas (WET's father, 71)
.

Grancie's breakfasts
Around September-time in 1928, when the blackberries were ripe, Inez Grace Thomas (IGT) remembers visiting her paternal grandfather, Walter Parsons Thomas, in Scorrier, accompanied by various members of her family. Her brother, Walter, had brought along his girlfriend Betty Norman. IGT recalls how bad Grancie's breakfasts were; so bad that IGT and her mother felt compelled to chuck the offending breakfast over the garden wall in disgust when Grancie wasn't looking! According to IGT, Grancie was thought of by the rest of the Thomas family as "a bit crazy", "odd" and "old-fashioned".3

Fashionable cast-offs
Inez Grace Thomas is wearing a red dress with white piping around the neck, décolleté and arms. The dress was apparently one of Betty Norman's cast-offs. This wasn't a bad thing as Betty Norman was considered a smart dresser and always wore fashionable, new clothes. Betty Norman, who was considered a 'looker' in her day, was Walter David Thomas's girlfriend. The Normans and the Thomases were in regular contact up in Holyhead.4 The men typically wore jackets and open-necked shirts. WDT, the photographer, often wore a suit and tie and a Spencer over the shirt. A closer examination of the old photograph (above) revealed that Walter Parsons Thomas was wearing spectacles.

Roof and chimneys
Based on a few old black-and-white photographs taken in 1928, the roofing appears to have been slate tiles. In addition, there is a chimney at the rear of the house with two ventilation pipes sticking up above the roof line; its parallel vents are just visible.

Zimapan from road ca. 1928
Zimapan from St Day-to-Scorrier road (B3298), Sep 1928.
Photo: Smith family private photo collection 

Sash windows
The windows were of the 'sash' type. The largest windows contained two sliding window sections each containing six panes of glass, making a total of 12 panes per window. There was a large entrance porch with a flat roof located slightly off-centre to the house, offering an optimal view of the south-facing garden. The porch had three main windows, the central one being of the 'sash' type and much larger than the two smaller ones on either side, which only had three large panes each.

Bath chair at Zimapan 1928
Front garden at Zimapan, Sep 1928
Angelina Hales dressed up as a nurse, pushing Margaret Parry Reynolds (aka 'Parry') in a wicker bath chair.
Photo: Smith family private photo collection.

Three steps either side of porch
The above photograph clearly shows that there were three small steps leading up to the left and right side of the large porch, which confirms that there were two side doors into the house, either side of the porch. The photograph on the Home Page clearly shows the top part of a side door (with a window above door) on the left side of the original porch.

Zimapan's original porch with its central 9-paned sash window, 1928
Front garden at Zimapan, ca. 1928
The original front porch can be seen, with 9-paned central window and steps
leading up to
one of the two side doors5
Photo: Smith family private photo collection

Front garden at Zimapan, Sep 1928
Front garden of Zimapan, Sep 1928
showing circular lawn and concentric paths.
Photo: Smith family private photo collection

Manicured garden with palms
The house had a large, manicured garden surrounded by a six-foot-high wall, and was planted mostly with young trees and several New Zealand cabbage palms (Cordyline australis), with long brown-orange pointed leaves. An oleander plant can also be clearly seen in the photograph. At the far end of the garden there was a large white wooden gate with an x-shaped brace and large black metal hinges on its left side, when viewed from inside the garden. This same gate is still there today, although very rickety looking now.

The south-facing front garden at Zimapan, 1928
The front garden at Zimapan, Sep 1928
facing towards the garden gate.
Photo: Smith family private photo collection
 

Circular lawn, sundial and Venetian-style urns
Zimapan's garden had a large circular grass lawn in the middle, that was surrounded by two concentric paths separated by a six-foot strip of grass. Two parallel-slatted garden benches were placed against the front wall of the house, one of which was placed under the porch windows. The benches were supported by three metal legs. A sundial mounted on a four-foot high cylindrical column had been placed eccentrically on the circular lawn, and two Venetian-type urns with handles had been mounted on top of square columns.

Ornamental arbour
At the rear of the garden to the left of the white gate, there was an inverted U-shaped, ornamental arbour with a central arch. Both of its columns featured crisscrossing parallel supports for additional strength. As the house is situated end-on to the road and faces south, a large white gate led straight out onto the St Day-to-Scorrier Road, just as it does today. Behind the arbour, outside the walled garden, a utility pole can be seen, and was fitted with 12 white ceramic insulators, standing beside on the St Day-to-Scorrier road.
 
 

Sitting on front garden gate at Zimapan, Sep 1928.
(from left to right)
William Evans Thomas (father of IGT), Inez Grace Thomas, Walter David Thomas, Betty Norman
Standing: Angelina/Evangelina Thomas, Margaret Parry Thomas
Photo: Smith family private photo collection

 
Dancing with panpipes in the front garden at Zimapan, Sep 1928.
(from left to right)
Walter David Thomas, Betty Norman, Margaret Parry Thomas (hidden), Inez Grace Thomas, Angelina/Evangelina Thomas
Photo: Smith family private photo collection


Four girls in front of the gazebo 
in the back of the front garden at
 Zimapan, Sep 1928.
(from left to right)
Betty Norman, Inez Grace Thomas, Margaret Parry Thomas, Angelina/Evangelina Thomas
Photo: Smith family private photo collection

 
Thomas family
in front of the gazebo 
at the back of the front garden at
 Zimapan, Sep 1928.
(from left to right)
Standing: Walter David Thomas, Betty Norman, Margaret Parry Thomas, Angelina/Evangelina Thomas
Squatting: Inez Grace Thomas, William Evans Thomas
Photo: Smith family private photo collection


Endnotes
1. Inez Grace Smith (née Thomas), 2009.
2. 1901 England Census.
3. Same as f/ 2.
4. Same as f/ 2.

5. In 1928, there was no central door in the flat-roofed entrance porch as can be seen in the 2006 photograph on the Images of England (English Heritage) website. The central door was a later addition and cannot be considered as an original feature of the original house (see Zimapan revisited 2009).