Saturday, 23 March 2013


Stripes - Tudor style
  • Stripes, in many different widths and colours have been with us for many centuries, to decorate walls, fabrics  and wooden and metal ornaments.   Amongst the very earliest good examples of wall painting are the beautiful stripes of the dining room at Marlborough's Merchants House, a very striking and complete decoration.    It was found under many layers of paper many years ago and much discussed by my old friend, the late Victor Chinnery, who was a specialist in Tudor buildings and their finishes as well as their contents.   I am absolutely delighted that Melissa White, of Fairlyte,  another good young friend has produced a wonderful series of prints based on Elizabethan wall painted designs for Zoffany,  the very top textile and wallpaper producer, and has now copied the stripes there in the true colours.   The Merchant's House in the High Street, Marlborough, is absolutely fascinating with lots of original paintwork on its walls and in particular, on a magnificent staircase, all open to view.   Victor helped to restore this splendid house which had been occupied for many years by a series of commercial tenants who simply wallpapered over the very important Elizabethan painting and helped to preserve it all!   Now all is revealed and my friend Melissa has reproduced it faithfully for us all to enjoy in several versions.  I can see this paper looking good wherever it is placed - in Tudor surroundings or the most modern interiors, passageways, kitchens, bathrooms and dining rooms!

                                 STRIPE  ME RED!

    Continuing my theme of stripes, both painted and woven, you may know from their frequent appearances, that I am a passionate lover of striped tickings.  Tickings actually do go back to Tudor times when the very closely woven down and feather-proof material was used for pillows and bedding and they are feature in contemporary wills.  No doubt they were sober plain materials which relied on colourful quilts and pillow cases to decorate the beds and it was left to European countries in the 19th century to weave and manufacture the gaily striped materials that we now treasure.  I have often wondered why the tickings were in such gorgeous and striking colours and combinations as the mattresses were actually encased in removable cotton or linen covers with buttons or ties for stripping to be washed and changed and the lovely rainbows of colours did not see the light of day!  This of course accounts for the brilliant shades of the tickings which were rarely unpicked and washed or re-used, except for patching.  I  guess that it was mostly at the demand of the market sellers and shops that the weavers vied with each other to attract the housewives to buy their version of stripes as being the most attractive and eye-catching.  The tickings were sold by the yard (or metre) and were at their most splendid round the turn of the 19C. with as many as a dozen or more shades of pink, red, orange, etc mixed in different combinations in a rainbow of colour.  Red was the cheapest dye so that colour usually dominates the selection of shades.  The best have a herringbone weave and contain some linen.
   Above are two shots of furniture covered in striped ticking by Nicolette Le Pelley, who worked for World of Interiors magazine and often came to look at, and buy, my tickings at the Little Chelsea Fair that I attended for many years.  The offices were then just across the road and the staff used to nip in to see the latest French imports!  Incidentally, you might admire Nicolette's print collection of small classical subjects displayed en masse in a jigsaw arrangement where they really add up to something noteworthy.  See my Blog Decorating for a song

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