Tuesday, 24 September 2013


woodland photograph, unknown

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple...”

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows    

After the unusually sultry weeks this summer the Autumn arrived on swift bright coloured wings. It is not unwelcome, although I enjoy all of them, this is my favourite season. It appeals to my quiet and slightly melancholy soul. It's a time for reflection, for parting, and for preparing. Time to remember and to celebrate the year as it pauses - and then passes into Winter.

Autumn Sprite by Margaret Tarrant

The Autumn Equinox is upon us. The woods are crisp underfoot, above the Crow calls. I love taking long walks alone save for all the wild things.

The ancients celebrated the season and gave them much more importance than we modern folk do. I believe that when we are more in tune with nature the tides of life become easier and we appreciate simple things which give us joy and comfort. I like collecting and displaying seasonal items of jewellery, china and textiles to remind me of moments in time.

 Found items are also a rich source of inspiration and mood.

These are a few of my favourite Autumn images and items. If you look closely the Autumn palette is not limited to rust and golden hues but is also jewel bright and deeply rich with blues, amethyst, raspberry, mauve and greens.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


Oak Canopy Chair, Monarch Crown, Coat of Arms, Heavily Carved
$6,800 From Roberts Antiques at Ruby Lane;

I've always been curious about the origin of objects and as soon as I find an 'Object of Desire' I begin a discovery for it's story. The throne chair is an object which I love in all of it's forms, whether it was created for the Lord of the Manor or simply as a humble carver chair for the master of the house who carved the joint.

This one is most definitely not humble, although it is in good taste compared to some of the high Victorian gargoyle adorned examples which I have admired. Roberts Antiques who are selling it say this about it, "This oak canopy chair or throne chair is heavily carved and decorated. It is certainly one of a kind. Bought in East Texas from Mrs. Prater at Liz-Beth Antiques, who obtained it from a client in Scotland. It was said to come from an old estate in the highlands. It is oak and has wonderful and outstanding carvings. It is a reproduction of a 17th century style chair and was made around 1875. " You can read more about it on the link under the collage. I love everything about this, even the worn green velvet and would do little to it were I lucky enough to be able to purchase this. I imagine that Mrs Black would love sleeping on this!

I loved the heart shaped throne which The Red Queen sat upon in Alice.

Throne of The Red Queen
Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

We associate thrones with royalty, but their history is far older. Once they were the seat of deities.

The word throne derives from the Greek 'thronos' which means  "seat, chair"  and the early  Greek (Dios thronous) which meant the "support of the heavens". In Ancient Greek, a "thronos" was a specific but ordinary type of chair with a footstool, a high status object but not necessarily with any connotations of power. Homer wrote that the Achaens placed additional thrones in royal palaces so that the gods could be seated when they wished to be. The most famous of these thrones was the throne of Apollo in Amyclae.

Throne of Apollo at Aachen

The Greeks were not alone in making their Gods welcome with thrones set aside for their use, should they turn up and wish to sit awhile. Romans had two types of thrones, one which was intended for the Emperor and one for the Goddess Roma whose statues were seated upon thrones, which became centres of worship.

Through history thrones have been the seats of bishops, known as a 'cathedra' from the Greek for 'seat'.  The cathedra symbolizes the bishop's authority to teach the faith and to govern his flock. From the presence of this cathedra a bishop's primary church is called a 'cathedral'. 

We lived near Exeter Devon for a few years. I often visited and admired the Cathedral, especially the Bishops Throne. Photographs do not do it justice, in fact it is so large that it is impossible to get it all into one photo and show any detail. You can read more about this, and Exeter on a link at the bottom of this post. It's worth a visit if you are ever in the area. 

The wooden structure made between 1312 & 1316 stands 59 feet high,
made without metal nails or screws, only wooden pegs were used.
Photo © Copyright
Julian P Guffogg  

The Bishop's Throne, Exeter Cathedral, Devon 

In the Middle Ages in European feudal countries, monarchs often were seated on thrones, based in all likelihood on the Roman magisterial chair. These thrones were originally quite simple, especially when compared to their Asian counterparts. One of the grandest and most important was the Throne of Ivan "the Terrible". Dating from the mid-16th century, it is shaped as a high-backed chair with arm rests, and adorned with ivory and walrus bone plaques intricately carved with mythological, heraldic and life scenes. The plaques carved with scenes from the biblical account of King David's life are of particular relevance, as David was seen as the ideal for Christian monarchs.

The throne of Ivan The Terrible of Russia
photo by Stan Shebs

Some thrones were unbelievably elaborate. The throne of the Byzantine Empire even included automatons of  singing birds! I'd love to see an image of that.

One of the most famous thrones still in use by monarchs today is King Edward's Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey. British monarchs are still crowned upon it.   The Lord Mayors of many British and Irish cities often preside over local councils from throne-like chairs.

King Edward's Chair, Westminster Abbey, London
this photograph by
Kjetil Bjørnsrud

So how did all of this equal the throne chairs which came to be made for domestic use? Good question. The first types would have been made for Lords of The Manor, such as the one from Scotland which Robert's Antiques are selling. Others, not quite so grand are from the Tudor period and can be found in churches and country houses throughout Europe.

old oak carved chair at Malmesbury Abbey

Whilst royalty has always sat on thrones I think that Victoriana further popularised the idea of the head of the family sitting in a carver which announced his status by resemblance to a throne and carried on through the years until it fell out of fashion with less formal eating habits became the norm. 

The dining room at The National Trust property, The Argory,
County Armagh ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

I really love the whimsical 'throne chairs' but ordinary carver chairs are like mini thrones for us mere mortals and are sturdy reliable chairs for everyday use about the house. You can pick up fine oak  carved examples on ebay and at all antique fairs for a song. I'm sitting on an Arts and Crafts one as I write this. Mine is very plain compared to the one which inspired this post but I love it's honesty. And no, that is not me pictured here, I am not a Tortoiseshell Cat. This is the Naughty Kitten who snuck up here, stretched out and fell fast asleep when I went to make a cup of tea. Throne chairs, in all their forms, are a perfect size for a cat!

Wiki page about Thrones:

The Bishops Throne at Exeter Cathedral

Saturday, 14 September 2013

DARK DECOR - Abigail Ahern Collection for Debenhams

Look who has arrived!
(The big guy, not the little one.)

This time of year my soul begins to wander towards the woods and all the wild things. Hares are always top of my list and I am very lucky to live near some woods where they frolic. I see them often. But not often like this!

Hare Lamp by Abigail Ahern for Debenhams 
Her website HERE:
for the Debenham's Collection
Debenham's collection HERE:
Abigail Ahearn has been big news for a long while and yet she still surprises me with her creations. I LOVE her interiors which are really me, dark and yet with a sense of humour. I think it is very difficult to do a gothic look seriously (unless you live in a grand house or castle) and it often comes off better if you add a touch of relief. Her look suits both townhouses and country cottages. As proven by her own London Victorian which she trimmed in black. 

His handsome head and ears!

I've long admired her animal lamps but each time I saved up the money to buy one and finally decided which,  I found it had already sold. And it was so hard to chose from this selection!

So I was extremely excited when she did a collection for Debenham's and I saw that she had done one of a major obsession of mine - a Hare! And even more remarkable I managed to obtain one. Hooray!

His huge paws!

He arrived this week. He is divine! Photographs do not do him justice. He is perfectly flocked a light grey with enormous feet and ears. He wears a small bright pink shade perched over his head like the Mad Hatter's very best top hat. He has an air of 'Alice' about him. All who have seen him agree how very handsome that he is. We LOVE him and felt he deserved a name and decided to call him Harvey.

James Stewart and his big friend Harvey

It isn't all that original considering, but my Grandfather's name was Harvey and I have always adored the film with James Stewart and his giant Púca animal spirit in the shape of a Rabbit. Okay, so this is a hare ... but we think he is Harvey like.  

Abigail and her pet pooch at her fantastic home.

You can read more about Abigail, and this collection (but a lot of it has sold out so you may not be able to buy it) on her own website blog. The Link follows these images.

Her photographs of 'Harvey' are a lot better than I can achieve with my happy snappy camera.

A splendid Penguin. Love the black candlesticks! 

Nice idea to have a lamp by the fireplace. 

Abigail Ahern flocked candlesticks. 

 I want everything in the collection ......

Abigail is on Pinterest too, her boards are full of inspiration. HERE:

Abigail Ahern's own Blog HERE:

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

SEASONAL - Summer is Gone

Chinese lanterns beginning to glow

Nobody on the road
nobody on the beach
I feel it in the air
the summer's out of reach
Empty lake, empty streets,
the sun goes down alone
Don Henley, The Boys of Summer

We had some glorious weeks of summer, but the air has turned and the Autumn wind has begun to pull her amber bejewelled blanket over the land. The dew is heavier in mornings and it is dark before we have dinner. The glow of Chinese Lanterns has appeared between the foliage of summer flowers. Summer is gone.

Butterfly nectar

We watched the last Butterflies taking nectar from our Buddleia bushes.  Some only visit us here in England, they cannot survive the winters and die at summer's end. The Bees too have gone down in numbers, it seems silent without their gentle buzzing. The Swifts left us last month, House Martins and Swallows struggle on through the rainy colder days with their last broods before their farewell gathering and journey to South Africa.

Our tiny Dragons are leaving the pond to chose stones for hibernation.

Mrs Black soaks up the last of the sunshine

This years Hollyhocks were glorious

And us? We begin to gather our woollens, light the lamps and get out the books we plan to read in our winter nests.

Top of my list is the Autumn catalogue which arrived from Toast this week. perfect timing! Beautiful colour palette, mustards, rusts and clear greens with navy. I've been tuned to yellow this summer, it is a warming colour, think bowls of spice in a desert souk. It's such a gorgeous photo shoot it is a joy to look at even if you are not shopping. My favourites are the mustard hand warmers, and the white horse! All I need now is a cup of tea.

website HERE:

Friday, 6 September 2013


The Vintage Bazaar at the beautiful Corn Exchange in Devizes

We're in the middle of a lot of building work on our cottage. it's been like the Mad Tea Party with electricians, plumbers and plasterers all in my kitchen. It is difficult to make tea with the water and electrics turned off! Perhaps putting in a new bathroom and kitchen whilst replacing the roof on the back of your house is not advisable. We are making progress but I've not been out much during all of this.

However, I could not resist attending the Vintage Bazaar at the end of August in Devizes. It's a very old market town in Wiltshire which is always a delight to visit. There is even a castle! The bazaar was brilliant, sadly my expertise with my new camera was not, so you will only get a few photographs from me for the day. Fortunately a lot of other bloggers have posted theirs so you can have a look at those to pick up some of the glamour and excitement of the day.

The venue was exceptional - the perfect setting for vintage goods. The Corn Exchange is a very beautiful building. The stalls were all laid out so well and I had to contain myself from having a buying frenzy! There were a few celebrities there, including Marc Allum and Lisa Lloyd of the BBC Antiques Roadshow and their magazine Homes & Antiques. Liz Van Hasselt had a stall there and is one of the co-ordinators of the Vintage Bazaar. Homes & Antiques featured her in the September issue of the magazine. You can read their post about the Vintage Bazaar with great photographs from the day HERE: 

Liz's stall with some of her collection of religious figurines.

Although I came home with lovely goodies, the highlight was meeting fellow blogger and vintage dealer Ted and Bunny who had a stall there.  I've loved her shop for years and it was such a pleasure to finally meet her. Her blog is always inspirational and I want her handsome horse Bruce!

The cute logo of Ted and Bunny
their blog is here;

I bought this wonderful old book from her with illustrations by Leslie Brooks. 

Vintage American quilt from Ted and Bunny

But this is the one that got away. This antique American quilt was peeking out from under her trolley and caught my eye the minute I saw it. It's made from old feed sacks and is absolutely gorgeous! Elaine told me that she had to wear it as a kind of shawl to get it on the plane home from the US. With all the work on the cottage I am bereft of monies or I would have snapped this up. It's worth every penny of the £150.00 she is asking for it. My photo simply does not do it justice and these quilts are real collectors items.

Here is a small collection of items from the day which somehow ended up in my shopping bag. None of these are destined for sale, although the lace may adorn some wool and tweed coats I am working on to sell in the shop in Hungerford.

Gorgeous old red glass necklace

All at £1.00 each! From a box of fabulous antique lace treasures.

I was so excited to be there and had limited time to wiz round to see everyone that I failed to get details of who I bought items from. This stall was tucked in a far back corner and had tons of vintage fabrics, lace and  thread.  I could have spent hours just with her! If anyone knows what she is called please let me know and I will update this to credit her.

Anyone who knows me will know that I have spent my whole life being obsessed with everything  pre-Raphaelite. Just as I was leaving some very pretty fabric remnants neatly folded on a table display caught my eye. I had already decided not to buy anything else ..... but surely these small tokens would fit into one of my bags?

The first one is large enough to make two cushions if I use a border and a backing. I think it is probably 1960s or 70s and is a heavy weight velvet upholstery fabric. It's beautifully coloured with deep rich blue, coral and green. I got this for £2.50!!!!

Remnant of a William Morris print on Liberty velvet

The kind lady who could probably tell that I really wanted these by the way I kept stroking them let me have this teeny remnant below for a mere £0.50 pence!

It is really small, but so exquisite. I do not recognise the fabric, and have a bit of research to do yet, but believe it to be William Morris from the early days of his fabric designs.

It is faded and yet still rich with it's red background and pastel blue and pink flowers and trailing green stems and leaves. I don't know what I am going to do with this one. It would work well as a top on a jewel box, or a tiny lavender filled cushion. I might frame it, although being able to touch it is part of the it's appeal. 

A tiny fragment of a REAL Arts and Crafts fabric
I was so thrilled that I forgot to find out who I bought these remnants from. So, if the lady who sold me these is reading this let me know, I'd love to credit you. And find you at the next Vintage Bazaar!

Lastly I did buy this to sell. It is an old Athena print of a Burne-Jones painting called 'The Beguiling of Merlin', created between 1872 and 1877. The print is a good one but I think that the mount and frame could be improved upon. I intended to reframe this and put it in the shop. Really I did .... but then I carried it upstairs to get it out of the chaos of the building works and it looked so perfect against the blue walls and carpet of the bedroom.

The Beguiling of Merlin
Edward Burne-Jones

Detail from the print
It is an amazing painting with an interesting history.  Burne-Jones was inspired by the late medieval French 'Romance of Merlin' to portray Nimue as a femme fatale whose spell proves too powerful even for the sorcerer Merlin as they walk together in the forest of Broceliande. I like the way that Nimue having subdued him, is reading from his own book of spells and how Burne-Jones has imagined her as having serpents in her hair reminiscent of Medusa. He is a master (like Lord Leighton) of painting the diaphanous folds of her dress and creating a play of light by using highlights of another colour. 

Boreas by john William Waterhouse

I also love the grey blues which he has used in this, which remind me of Waterhouse's 'Boreas'  painting. A previous owner of our cottage adored blue and the carpets and tiles throughout are a mid-blue. I do like this colour but it has been hard to work with having blue underfoot in every room. This print picks it up nicely and will help tie in the bedroom's colours. And it was a bargain at Oxfam for just £6.99!

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