Monday, 24 January 2011


  I am off away till the 26th February, collecting my annual dose of sunshine from sunny Tenerife.   I hope I deserve a holiday as I have been busy planning all our Talent for Textile Fairs for the year and will be posting off the programme to everyone on my mailing list during the first week of March,  in addition to a newsletter sent January to those who have Email - sorry, I cannot afford to send it to everyone by post.
Our first fair is the popular Ilminster one at the Meeting House on March 12th, 9.30 am - 4pm.  Free entrance for everyone and a very social occasion with lots of old friends  meeting again.  Your usual hard-working dealers will be there with new stock gathered during the winter months and you can have a good chat over coffee or something a bit stronger in the popular cafe there.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

CURTAIN CALL My 'heavenly' curtains!

This beautiful Tree of Life design is a copy of a Palampore 18c. wall hanging or bedspread from India - it was copied as Le Grand Genois (Genoa) by Braquenie, famous French fabric designers now owned by Pierre Frey. The cotton is very fine and the printing immaculate, with many charming details, the 'rockwork' at the base, the strange whorls on the trunk, the fanciful and fantastic flowers and the glorious mix of colours. I bought 3 curtains at a Fair a long time ago and used 2 for my dining room window - the third curtain (shown) is hung as a straight panel on the wall opposite. They give me joy every time I look at them. There is a new and lovely book about these pieces called Chintz by Rosemary Crill of the V.and A Museum. See also my reference in the Post 'More about Petworth '- for another good book about French toiles. The 'painted' chintzes were first produced on the Coromandel Coast of India and then shipped along the trade routes to ports in France, England and Holland where they were highly prized and became very fashionable. Later versions (1860s)were made in Genoa and were known as Mezzaras and were designed to be worn over crinoline dresses. All are now rare and valuable and in good condition fetch many hundreds of pounds, if not thousands. I was lucky to find two in a bundle of linen I bought, almost unseen, thirty years ago, and have enjoyed ever since., without realising their rarity and value. A visit to Christies and the Museum at PORT LOUIS, Brittany, has revealed their fascinating history and provenance.

Friday, 14 January 2011

French Affairs

I have had a wonderful, long love affair with French antiques and textiles - I was first hooked on the dashing, striped tickings used for the old feather beds that kept the French and many other nations, warm in bed. Tough, closely woven, down -proof in jolly stripes, they were filled with feathers, and also straw, maize shucks and horsehair, two underneath on the rigid planks of uncomfortable slatted beds, and one on top, acting rather like a tea cosy. The French were fairly conservative with the colour in the weaving; using mostly indigo blue in wide and narrow stripes and rather less in beige and red fine stripes, but other countries wove them in hundreds of different brilliant stripes, in every colour except green(which was thought to be unlucky and was a difficult dye to manage). Sometimes they were made with a long slit on one side so that the contents could be stirred up by hand in the morning and easily removed when soiled , but of course feathers had to be sealed in the bags with very tiny stitches.  This image, with my name and address, printed in World of Interiors Magazine, brought me dozens of buyers who had never seen tickings in such brilliant combinations and the big US designers sent reps  as many were keen to add to their collections, and these were unique and without copyrights.

Sunday, 2 January 2011


 This news picture of a pupil at Christ's Hospital, Horsham, E.Sussex, rang a bell with me, as many years ago I purchased a similar coat from a Brighton dealer during a severe snow storm, brand new (not 1552) thinking  the heavy Melton wool cloth would repel snow, rain and wind.  I was specially keen on Tudor clothing and my brother had purchased a broken -down Bluecoat school, in East  London., to restore.  I thought this would be an interesting bit of memorabilia for his project.  Alas! all the lead was stolen from the roof and the plan was a disaster, so the coat went to the back of the wardrobe where it has been ever since!   This is a generous size 14, as new,  full length with a brilliant mustard yellow flannel lining and some brass buttons inscribed Edouard VI Rex who presumably was the founder of the school, back in Tudor times.. It is now for sale.   Melton cloth, originally from Melton Mowbray, is a thick wool cloth with a short nap used for outerwear and overcoats - I think the guardsmen in London all wear them for sentry duty and ceremonials as it is almost impervious to rain and is eztremely warm.  Coat now SOLD