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Glamorgan Antiques Newsletter

August 2002 - Newsletter # 5

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© Glamorgan Antiques - Reproduction of these newsletters forbidden without the express permission of the Author


Welcome all to this fifth newsletter from Glamorgan antiques.We hope that it will appeal to all lovers of Antiques, whether newcomers or more experienced Collectors.Anyway, the learning process in Antiques never ends,we all get to be more experienced but we never stop learning.

In This Edition

The Cottages of England

In this month's issue we have written about English Cottages,we hope that you enjoy reading about these wonderful old treasures


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The everlasting image of the true English country cottage is of a thatched roofed rambling building, set in a garden that is overflowing with shrubs and flowers.Many cottages in Somersetshire, England are still thatched and half timbered, where often the skeleton of the house is built in wood, and the walls are made out of Wattle and daub,mud and straw or rubble and bricks.This has been the abiding style of West country cottages since the 14th century. In most, the Laths were nailed onto the timber frame, and the outside was then rendered with plaster.The Victorians loved to deliberately expose or show the old oak frames and they would be stained black or dark brown.This is the way most of us like to see old cottages,how our great grandparents would have also seen them.

The heavy oak furniture would have been the same furniture used for many generations.Most of the old dressers were locally made and laden with Blue and white china dinner services, and the array of meat platters in varying sizes would be the icing on the cake so to speak.The rows of shining Jugs would be used daily, as they had no plastic or stainless steel in those far off days.If, as often happened, a much loved jug or bowl was damaged, then the services of the travelling Tinker would be called into use as he travelled from village to village mending all the old pots and pans using the old staple method in a very clever way.If you study some of these repairs you will be amazed at the tinkers ingenuity, as he would only have had the most basic of tools, and the repair would have been be carried out by him, sitting on a bank or garden wall in the time honoured fashion.However, the Jug or bowl would live to see another day, often being completely leak proof again and fully useable.

Many cottages did not have a proper stairs to reach the first floor.Sometimes the stairs would actually be outside the cottage especially the properties that were sunk into a hillside, as so many farmhouses were.Others utilised wooden ladders, and many children and adults just slept on the floor using an old horse haired mattress.If, there was a stairs, then in many a cottage you would also see a cupboard bed.That is a bed was made under the stairs, similar to a modern bunk bed, but there would also be a door, as the bed would be completely closed in during the daytime.

Another favourite piece of furniture would be the old high backed Settle.Something like a church pew. Some were long and some were curved, depending on whether the Settle was used against a wall or used at the side of the fireplace.Oak was usually the main type of wood used but Elm, Beechwood and other trees would be used too.Pine was always associated with the very poorest of families,as it was very cheap to buy even in the earlier centuries.

The cottagers always grew their own vegetables and fruit, and the flowers were given second place to the humble cabbage.Herbs too were freely grown and many were used to make a sort of herb pot pourri that would be strewn on the floors of the cottages, this remember was in the days of poor sanitation and no piped water.This brings us neatly to the Fireplace,the centre or heart of every cottage.The fireplace would have a mantelpiece which would be adorned with Staffordshire figures and other items of much loved pottery,including the handsome Toby jugs.There would sometimes be a clock as well,and always 2 Staffordshire Comforter dogs staring placidly out over the family scene.The fireplace would be the family cooker too, so, above and to the side would be the hoists,pulleys, and the many pots and pans and meat hooks, some cleverly made to turn the meat around as it cooked, ensuring a thorough roasting and crisp crackling for the hungry family.The kettles would be large and black, but the copper kettles and fish kettles would also be used and cleaned daily, gleaming so much by the light of the glowing embers.

When the population grew just after the First World War,and new towns developed,many original small villages were absorbed into these towns, and new developers sought to re create a mock Tudor look which appealed to the buyers of the post War period.
The suburban buyers deliberately furnished their new houses to achieve a cosy and comfortable "Cottage" ambience.Furniture that was mass produced to look like older period furniture, was bought with enthusiasm by the newly weds, and lots of chintz material was used for curtains and covers and cushions.The period furniture was quite heavy and resembled a former Jacobean style,crossed with an Elizabethan style.The shelves and fireplaces were adorned with Horse brasses and lots of Pewter,plus much use of earlier Victorian pottery, which gave the living rooms an air of cosiness and homeliness reminiscent of the old country cottages that the 1920 house buyers had grown up in.

Over the years fashions have altered houses out of all recognition,but the one enduring home that has lasted over a span of 600 years will always be the old English cottage that we all know and love so much.In post war Britain, many of the old trades tended to be a dying art,however, thankfully in more recent years a new surge of interest has grown in our old Villages, and many young men and women are learning the timeless skills of previous generations of Thatchers and Carpenters etc.. New modern day cottage owners are often commuters, who travel many miles to work each day in our large cities,but returning at the end of the day to the olde world charm of the country villages once more.

There are Cottages all over the World,but the English cottages have a timeless beauty, loved and admired everywhere , they have been through wars and pestilences, but still they stand, sturdy and strong ,clustered around the village green in the time honoured way, and so may they always remain, a testimony to charm and beauty and as enduring as any mighty castle or palatial mansion..

August 2002. Copyright©.Glamorgan antiques.

Reproduction of these newsletters forbidden without the express permission of the Author

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