Thursday, 21 February 2013


  Her trade name really was Mrs.Monro and her beautiful chintzes were famous before the last war.  She was a skilled decorator and had a great liking for extremely pretty decorations, fine china, needlework and  charming needlework boxes, tea caddies and other choice collectors items.  I was living nearby in an old mews cottage and pushing a pram, and I used to stop outside her window to admire her display - I think I really appreciated the constantly changing  little scene and it struck me then how important composition and arrangement were to catch the eye and make the buyer stop.   Mrs. Monro was one of the first interior designer of repute, and had a world-wide business,  took her stuffs to the U.S., had many socialite hostess clients over there and designed interiors for ocean liners, embassies, banks, and many other clients worldwide. She had good publicity in magazines like The Tatler, when it was not very usual for ladies of gentle birth to indulge in trade!  Her daughter, Jean Monro, has continued the business.
A composition by Mrs Monro, English decorated porcelain and lustre-ware, tea cups, plates, slop bowls and spill vases, with fresh garden flowers on a Regency set of shelves.  Fine trellis pattern wallpaper.
  Her patterns were often based on English garden flowers and old prints that she discovered in her clients' period houses;  they were light and gracious and were much used for loose covers on sofas and chairs, especially in the little bijou houses and cottages that were hidden behind the busy shops and stores in  the Brompton Road.

    My pram-pushing route took me past Harrods on one side and a row of very grand antique shops on the other:  Pratts, with fireplace impedimenta, where I admired the Georgian grates and the elegant fenders and guards in Gothic, Adam and Victorian designs, also rare Paktong fire dogs;   Coopers the grocers, came further along and  I  studied the Crane Galleries who had fantastic impressionist paintings worth many thousands (now worth millions, of course) I got to know the names of Dufy,  Picasso and many others and I returned to my modest mews inspired with a love of antiques and beautiful things, a feeling I still have to this day.  Little did I know that one day I would be selling small Folk Art objects to Andreas Calman, owner of the Crane Gallery twenty years later!
My own small collection of lustreware, an old tea-set bought in Wales where it often decorated kitchen dressers, and a collection of mugs on top from my cousin's Portmerion Pottery.(modern)

 At the other end of the scale, and the Brompton Road, where it became Knightsbridge Green, there was a quaint little haberdashery shop run by two antique looking ladies.  Their tiny window was stuffed with buttons and sewing notions, with adverts for 'invisible mending',  'ladders in silk stockings repaired', 'name tapes to order', and they were a relic of the time when the owners of the big houses near Hyde Park all employed ladies maids, housekeepers and housemaids whose job it was to repair and maintain all the linen and clothes of their employers.  I was already doing a lot of 'make do and mend 'as it was in the late 40s when everything was on coupons and I then began my hobby of sewing and making for my family.  The little old ladies became very friendly and so helpful, but I had no silk stockings to my name, and my underwear was made of parachute nylon!

1 comment:

  1. Something about how you wrote this post just touched my heart.

    (I do still darn my favorite socks!)

    Best wishes.