Friday, 28 October 2011

                       ROOTS and such like...

Quite often on our antiques-hunting jaunts around England we are reminded of our personal history and roots. We love to re-acquaint ourselves with ancestral landscapes and people.

Hiya Keziah...Good Day Dora May!

Our trip to the IACF Newbury Antiques Fair took us on a journey, via the Midlands, down to the Home Counties which hold fond childhood memories for me. We stopped on the way at Compton Verney, country house home to several spell-binding collections of art. We were especially keen to see the Folk Art - we have a particular affection for our lowlier ancestors and their customs - the ag. labs., the shepherds, the carters and other country folk.

Our trip also included flying visits to the estates on which they toiled; Basildon Park near Reading and The Vyne, just down the road near Basingstoke...

Outside Basildon Park - pausing for thought before facing the ubiquitous Halloween witches.

Oops - and there's another!

One room has been transformed into a magical shell grotto in this neglected Georgian mansion, rescued in the 1950s.


The sun shone on us at The Vyne, a house dating from Tudor times.

                            Chaloner Chute's monument in The Tomb Chamber.

We thought that this fluted wooden dado was purely decorative until told that it was a rack of truncheons, for use against anti-Corn Law protesters in the 1840s. Mr N. said he would very much like to see a display of their own weaponry, used against the constables and their masters...


The Reading Museum of English Rural Life was another must for us on this trip into the past.


I nailed my colours to the mast when I browsed at the Newbury antiques fair - no jewels or finery for me, this time.


Goodbye River Thames.

Farewell to Wallingford's antiques shops.

What a clever slogan!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

                     Decoration soothes the soul...

...or so Queen Victoria seems to have thought, along with many others.

A tomb in Haworth churchyard.

                         Georgian embroidered memorial samplers.

Mary Watts must have believed that the expression of emotion through beautiful design helps to sooth sadness - here are more photos of her amazing creations at Compton Cemetery Chapel, Surrey.

This weekend we explored two churches full of colourful High Victorian design, surely intended to banish despair. The Church of St John the Baptist at Kirk Hammerton between Knaresborough and York has Saxon remains, though the main structure is about 600 years old with 19th century alterations, and the uplifting and exuberant, Arts & Crafts Movement painted decorations were added in 1895. 

Further on along the road, at Skelton-on-Ure near Boroughbridge, down a leafy path bordered by towering Victorian yews,..

...on the edge of Newby Hall's parkland, is the glorious Victorian church of Christ the Consoler.

The church was commissioned by Lady Mary Vyner of Newby Hall and built, between 1871-76, to commemorate the tragic and violent death of her son, Frederick Grantham Vyner, who was murdered by brigands in Greece in 1870. It was designed by William Burges, a leading Gothic Revival architect, and paid for with the ransom money.

The finest coloured marbles, gilded mosaics and rich embroideries add to the exuberant life-affirming atmosphere of the church interior...

...though the whole building, even the painted marble font with its soaring Gothic cover, dedicated to Lady Mary's infant granddaughter, is a decorative creation made as an expression of grief.

Light in the darkness.