Sunday, 28 October 2012


Here is the Hurdy Gurdy Man! Yesterday, as the autumn sun warmed the chilly afternoon air, he led us to the Witch's Stone in Meanwood Park, Leeds, for a joyful pagan wedding.

Here is the lovely couple - bewitching, and bewitched by each other.


We followed the music...

...down the lane...

...for dancing in the streets...

...and in the village hall.

Here is the enchanting wedding cake!

Later, the evening's entertainment was provided by Herb Diamante, beguiling entertainer - part Iggy Pop, part Cilla - he sang The Monster Mash. If you wish to hear him singing the wonderfully wistful "Mr Lonely", please click on this link.



Thursday, 25 October 2012


Never, in our many years of country house snooping, have we had such a warm welcome as that which greeted us when we pushed open the door to Burton Agnes Hall

"Please feel free to sit on our chairs and our window seats, and you may take photographs of all our antiques and works of art!" There were no prickly holly leaves and not a dried teazle head in sight. 

Situated near Driffield in the East Riding of Yorkshire and built between 1601 and 1610 to plans by Robert Smythson, the house contains fine 17th century plaster ceilings, carved chimneypieces and more...


...Here, mingling with Chinese porcelain and finely painted ancestors, is a large collection of modern art. 


I love this set of tree-decorated drawers by John Makepeace

There are intriguing views through glass up here in the long gallery.

The family who live here are devoted to Art. This person, glimpsed sketching,  may be an artist in residence or perhaps a local season ticket holder, all of whom are encouraged to "treat the garden as your own".

As we were leaving, I noticed this view - Burton Agnes church, St Martins, where distant ancestors of Mr N were married.

                                                                                     Photo: Paul Glazzard on Geograph

I wanted to find something inside the church that a wandering family eye might have rested on during the service - and there, in the chancel quite low down on the wall, I spotted this characterful face - it looked familiar.

I wasn't sure of the date. Do you recognise this stubborn brow, those determined lips?

It is William Wilberforce, leader of the movement to abolish slavery, from nearby Kingston upon Hull. His carved stone likeness was placed in the church by his son Robert, Archdeacon of the East Riding and vicar of Burton Agnes in the 1840s.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

CAT or DOG ?

Or perhaps both? Which are you?

I collect cats AND dogs - like this tiny puppy cachou tin.

An antique embroidery of Carefull the cat.

Not a terracotta warrior, but a terracotta terrier.

Proud mother Puss.

Another painted pet.

A humble spongeware pottery moggy.

Daniel the spaniel.

This one is a money box - I'm saving up to add to the collection...

The other day, in a country church, I came across this little canine companion carved on a 15th century alabaster tomb, tenderly nibbling his mistress's robe. People have always loved their dogs and cats...

Here's our choice, though Harrogate Harry is sadly long gone.


Sunday, 14 October 2012


Not many people have heard of Kiplin Hall and, if they do, they might well think, "Bloomin' Yorkshire folk an' their missin' consonants!", but here it is, a pretty Jacobean treasure house with an interesting history, just off the A1, near Catterick village. It was built between 1622 and 1625 for George Calvert, Secretary of State to James 1, who later became Lord Baltimore, the founder of Maryland in the United States.

Lovely garden furniture, it seems familiar...

...we've been here before, in 1991.

Originally built as a hunting lodge, later additions turned it into a grand family home. The last incumbents were the Talbots, who were followers of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Dotted around the house are examples of their taste including a Morris & Co. needlework firescreen and a Compton Pottery angel.

                   G F Watts painted the beautiful daughters of the house.

The last member of the family to live at Kiplin was Bridget Talbot. Here she is as a child...

(...and here is her brother Humphrey, sitting on a giant snowball, at Christmas in 1899.)

Miss Talbot was an energetic and redoubtable spinster, typical of her time and class. She received the Italian Medal for Valour for her work as a Red Cross nurse on the Italian-Austrian front in WW1, and later an OBE. In the 1920s she invented a waterproof torch for lifebelts, launching a major campaign to preserve the lives of seamen lost overboard. She then used her political and social connections to persuade Parliament to make their provision compulsory for the Merchant and Royal Navy, and the RAF, thus saving many lives during WW2. She was passionately committed to trying to change systems she felt had failed, leaving her Conservative roots to consider campaigning as a Labour, Liberal  and finally an independent candidate, but without success. Her last battle was to secure the future of Kiplin Hall. The National Trust did not want it, the US State of Maryland would not help - finally she successfully set up the Kiplin Hall Trust which continues to run the house today.

What a woman!

The lake at Kiplin Hall.


Sunday, 7 October 2012


Ah - a Golden Moment! In the mid 1980s a young Mr N preparing to show Princess M of Kent a treasure at the N.E.C. antiques fair in Birmingham. Today, after a hectic week of events, we look back at thirty years of ups and downs in the trade.

Unloading at dawn in cattle sheds.

Gourmet dining - and an intimate knowledge of agricultural showgrounds, disused airfields, village halls etc.

The East of England Showground

Lincolnshire Showground.

The Royal Bath and West of England Society Showground.

Newark Showground.

Usually we're very busy...

...sometimes we're not.

Occasionally there's time for a coffee - here's BusyLizzie relaxing for a brief moment last week at Newark...

...and here is Martin showing you one reason why we love what we do - freedom from the daily grind. No pension, though!