Doddington Hall has something for everyone.

Doddington Hall

Doddington Hall

In the corner of England where we visited in April, there are several important historical properties. One is the Lincoln Cathedral; another is the Lincoln Castle. Once you get beyond the city, there are historic places that are privately owned, but open to the public at certain times. On this trip, we made time to visit Doddington Hall, which was built in 1595 and never sold. It is still a “regular” family home. They opened for the season on Easter and we visited on the following Wednesday afternoon for a couple of hours.

One of the four Unicorn topiaries in front of the Hall. The Unicorn is the family symbol.

One of the four Unicorn topiaries in front of the Hall. The Unicorn is the family symbol.

Doddington Hall is five miles west of Lincoln in the village of Doddington. The village was listed in the Doomsday Book, the survey book written in 1086 for King William the Conqueror. It’s been around a while. We parked across the road and walked up the lane to the gabled Gate House, where we purchased our tickets and received the recorded tour handheld device. We started our tour at the Hall’s entrance and toured the main house’s three floors on the right side of the main entrance. The Birch family lives on the left side.

Philip having a listen to the stories about the Hall.

Philip having a listen to the stories about the Hall.

The entrance to the Hall.

The entrance to the Hall.

The Hall is full of family history and treasures collected over the ages and we were allowed to wander at our own pace. It’s a stunning Elizabethan home, originally built for Thomas Tailor, the registrar to the Bishop of Lincoln. We climbed the massive staircase, that ascends three floors, peeking into the family rooms. On the third floor is a large extended room, the Long Gallery is 96” long and the place where the children have played on rainy days for hundreds of years and the women have walked and gossiped when the weather kept them from the gardens. Imagine the ladies of Georgian period strolling arm and arm, like in Jane Austen novel.

One of the opened family rooms.

One of the opened family rooms.

This room is completely filled with an Egyptian tent that the family was gifted.

This room is completely filled with an Egyptian tent that the family was gifted.

Looking out the window at the walled garden.

Looking out the window at the walled garden.

It was a beautiful spring day for our visit, so we headed out to the gardens ourselves. The West Garden is walled and typical of the Elizabethan period. Passing through the walled gardens, where the gardeners toiled and through a flood of daffodils, we came upon the sod maze. Our kind of maze.

The sod maze.

The sod maze.

Daffodils in bloom.

Daffodils in bloom.

Afterwards, we had lunch at their Farm Shop and Restaurant. Simple excellent hot lunches are presented using regional produce and vegetables from their own Kitchen Garden. They have done an excellent job of developing the estate and presenting it to the community and visitors. While we were there, we saw locals shopping at the store and also buying plants to take home with them.  It was a delightful way to spend a few hours away from antiquing.

Take a look at their twitter account @DoddingtonHall or do a virtual visit on their website at http://www.doddingtonhall.com. It may be part of the Hidden England program, but if we can find them, the world won’t be far behind.

1 Comment

Filed under Trips

Americans in the English Midlands.

Our latest adventure via photos.

Freedom is your own car and your own townhouse atop Lincoln. This open door was our home base for eight days in April 2015.

Freedom is your own car and your own townhouse atop Lincoln. This open door was our home base for eight days in April 2015.

We shopped our regular English antique fairs, shops and centres and found some treasures at some new locations.

We shopped our regular English antique fairs, shops and centres and found some treasures at some new locations.

We met up with our regular dealers from the UK and the Continent and made some new connections. The orange engineer tape marks our purchases. Need a cross for your garden?

We met up with our regular dealers from the UK and the Continent and made some new connections. The orange engineer tape marks our purchases. Need a cross for your garden?

We bought our regular stock items, like horse brasses. (hundreds of them) This is Philip and Dealer Derek, who was kind enough to bring more from home sorting the good from the mediocre.

We bought our regular stock items, like horse brasses. (hundreds of them) This is Philip and Dealer Derek, who was kind enough to bring more from home sorting the good from the mediocre.

We added new antique items this trip. This religious saint statue is from a chapel outside Ghent Belgium.

We added new antique items this trip. This religious saint statue is from a chapel outside Ghent Belgium.

Being on our own gave us some time to go exploring, like enjoying the Newark Castle ruins. Something we’ve seen several times, but never got the opportunity to explore. King John died here in 1216 (of the Magna Carta fame).

Being on our own gave us some time to go exploring, like enjoying the Newark Castle ruins. Something we’ve seen several times, but never got the opportunity to explore. King John died here in 1216 (of the Magna Carta fame).

We participated in the Lincoln Ghost Walk, the only time we had rain during the trip. That’s Philip with his back to the camera. We’re standing at the statue of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Lincoln’s famous son, and just outside the Chapter House. We didn’t see any ghosts, but the stories held our attention.

We participated in the Lincoln Ghost Walk, the only time we had rain during the trip. That’s Philip with his back to the camera. We’re standing at the statue of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Lincoln’s famous son, and just outside the Chapter House. We didn’t see any ghosts, but the stories held our attention.

We managed to eat at all our favorite Lincoln Steep Hill restaurants, including the Pie Shop. Yummo!

We managed to eat at all our favorite Lincoln Steep Hill restaurants, including the Pie Shop. Yummo!

And we discovered this delicious Battenberg cake at our local grocery on Burton Road. We had one for Easter celebration and one for the train ride back to London.

And we discovered this delicious Battenberg cake at our local grocery on Burton Road. We had one for Easter celebration and one for the train ride back to London.

We saw some quirky British folks, like this group of antique shoppers on their scooters. We had great neighbors at the townhouse. The midlands are a friendly bunch and don’t seem to mind sharing their country with Americans.

We saw some quirky British folks, like this group of antique shoppers on their scooters. We had great neighbors at the townhouse. The midlands are a friendly bunch and don’t seem to mind sharing their country with Americans.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mabel Lucie Attwell Handkerchiefs Starring in our Window

Who is Mabel Lucie Attwell?

Mabel Lucie Attwell design

Mabel Lucie Attwell design

While shopping at the Arthur Swallow antique fair north of Lincoln, we wandered into a tent filled with retro items. Although these aren’t our typical store items, something caught Theresa’s eye, probably due to the fact that we have a sweet, little baby granddaughter. There was a box of kitschy soft pastel handkerchiefs, thirteen in total. Each handkerchief featured a different scene of chubby toddlers having fun. They reminded us of the kewpies by American artist Rose O’Neill, who made her home north of Branson, near Springfield.

April 2015 Antique Window Display

April 2015 Antique Window Display

See the handkerchiefs on the clothesline?

See the handkerchiefs on the clothesline?

The seller was excited about the treasured handkerchiefs and couldn’t grasp that we had no idea who Mabel Lucie Attwell was, but Theresa loved the set and bought all of them. So, now that we’re home, we’ve put up a new window display featuring the handkerchiefs, just time in for Mother’s Day and we need to educate ourselves on Mabel.

Surrounded by fairies!

Surrounded by fairies!

Mabel Lucie Attwell was a famous British author and illustrator. She lived from 1879 to 1964. She is best known for her illustrations depicting children. These illustrations appeared in books, dolls, figurines and ephemera paper products. Many of her drawings were based on her daughter, Peggy (Majorie). The toddlers are charming and the scenes are timeless. She also illustrated fairy tales and nursery rhyme books. Her fairies are reminiscent of Arthur Rackham, Philip’s favorite illustrator.

Wee Scottish lad!

Wee Scottish lad!

Stop by and see these adorable handkerchiefs. They would make a special gift for an expectant mom or décor for a baby’s nursery. And we think they make our Mother’s Day window perfect!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Our Easter Experience

You’ve probably figured out that we didn’t go to England in January, as has been our MO for some time now. With Theresa helping out with our first grandchild and the fact that neither of us wanted to face the winter weather conditions, we said no to the January trip. We had planned on a June trip, but these plans failed to materialize as we had wished. So, we decided to go by ourselves in April. We had a marvelous time and in the next few blogs, we’ll share our trip with you. But before too much time lapses, we’ll share our Easter experience.

Theresa was not happy to be away from family at Easter; it’s her favorite holiday, both religious and secular. So, we celebrated with our family one week early (she says it wasn’t the same) and we headed off to the midlands of England for another antique shopping trip. Since we were on our own, we booked a townhouse in Lincoln, around the corner from the castle which holds the Magna Carta, where we could walk to various pubs and restaurants after full days of shopping.

It was odd to be shopping during Holy Week and even on Easter Day. We bought some of our best items at several small fairs that we shopped on Easter Sunday. But we reserved Saturday night for the Paschal Vigil at the Lincoln Cathedral just a few blocks away from our townhouse.

The night ended up being one of our cherished memories in all of our UK trips. We arrived at 8 in the evening and entered the 13th century west front into the massive, cold nave. It was dark and folding chairs held the parishioners. Everyone turned towards the west. The choirs filed into the nave through the huge West door, followed by the deacons and The Rt. Revd. Christopher Lowson, the 73rd Bishop of Lincoln. We began with the Service of Light. Here, near the door, the bishop lit the first fire and marked the Easter candle and the light was passed up through the congregation, until the flickering lights lit the massive entry of the cathedral. The light chased the shadows from the arches, vaults and marble pillars. We were worshipping in this Holy place where people have worshipped since 1073.

The Lincoln Cathedral shines against a dark night sky.

The Lincoln Cathedral shines against a dark night sky.

Following the Bible readings and the Gloria in Excelsis, the organist played a fanfare and the parishioners pulled out bells and rattle and made a joyful noise. A smartly dressed woman a row in front of us pulled out a soccer rattle and swung it around her head for several minutes as those around her smiled at her noise. The lights came on! Next, were the baptism of five people and the confirmation of nineteen. All renewed our own baptismal commitment to Christ. The clergy and bishop used long branches to sprinkle the entire crowd with Holy Water, walking amongst everyone, so no one was missed. We exchanged the sign of peace with those around us and many eyebrows were raised when they heard our accents. We have a little hillbilly in our voices.

The church gathers around the baptismal font in the nave of the Lincoln Cathedral at the Paschal Vigil 2015.

The church gathers around the baptismal font in the nave of the Lincoln Cathedral at the Paschal Vigil 2015.

Then, the ushers led the congregation forward through the next set of doors into the Hugh’s Choir, which separates the nave from the sanctuary and altar. Here, we sat in the individual wood carved choir stalls built in 1210 and the communion mass began. Quiet and orderly, everyone partook in the first bread and wine of Easter, kneeling at the communion rail on the marble floor, where so many have knelt before us.

The doors between the nave and the sanctuary at Lincoln Cathedral.

The doors between the nave and the sanctuary at Lincoln Cathedral.

The carving on the arm of our choir stall.

The carving on the arm of our choir stall.

Following the nearly three hour mass, the congregation was invited to the Chapter House for refreshments of hors d’oeuvres and champagne. We walked through the North Gate, pass the cloisters in the dark and entered into the Chapter House. Since 1255, the Chapter House has served as a meeting hall for assemblies and Kings Edward I, II and III held parliament on three occasions. It’s an inspiring building. So impressive, that it has been the setting of several movies, including The DaVinci Code and The Young Victoria. As you look up, the vaulted ceiling reminds one of an opened umbrella.

Toasting in the Chapter House following the Paschal Vigil 2015.

Toasting in the Chapter House following the Paschal Vigil 2015.

The Chapter House of the Lincoln Cathedral.

The Chapter House of the Lincoln Cathedral.

The Gothic architecture of the cloisters.

The Gothic architecture of the cloisters.

The Cloisters of the Lincoln Cathedral.

The Cloisters of the Lincoln Cathedral.

As the evening drew to a close, we headed home through Bailgate, over the cobbled streets, where Romans walked just a few years following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Feeling happy and joyful that we had celebrated our religious traditions, we were uplifted by the past.

People often ask if we’re growing tired of England. No. We share a love of architecture and history and it is in England where history is a visible living thing. A quote by Nikolaus Pevsner sums up our experiences “Englishness is of course the purpose of my journey”.

People often ask if we’re growing tired of England. No. We share a love of architecture and history and it is in England where history is a visible living thing. A quote by Nikolaus Pevsner sums up our experiences “Englishness is of course the purpose of my journey”.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Exceed Her Expectations.

Love Spoons carved by the labor of love.

Welsh Love Spoon.

Welsh Love Spoon.

In the store, we currently have a wonderful example of an antique Welsh Love Spoon. Carved from one piece of wood, this gift of a love spoon is intended for the one you love.

The tradition of love spoons probably began in the mid-1600s in Wales. During the long winter months, a man would carve the spoon and handle and then present it to the girl they were courting. Versions of the love spoon tradition are found across Europe. Sailors also carved love spoons on their journeys.

No two spoons are alike. Each representing the skill of the carver and the symbols he used to demonstrate his affection. Some spoons are simple and others use a variety of carving techniques to showcase the carver’s abilities.

Our spoon was purchased in England and contains several symbols. The heart represents love. The key and keyhole represent home and security. The daffodil and the dragon are symbols of Wales and the dragon also stands for protection. The linked chain shows the carving skills of the gentleman and represents his captured love. The anchor, his wish to settle down with his love. With this spoon, the carver is saying a lot to his chosen girl.

We can’t help but wonder what was her response to the gift of the spoon. Did the couple live happily ever after? What will you give your love this Valentine’s Day?

Leave a comment

Filed under Knowledge/History of Antique Item

Why did we go to Vegas?

Surely not for antiques?!

Paintings rolled and ready to go to the room.

Paintings rolled and ready to go to the room.

We headed out to Las Vegas at the end of January to attend the West Coast Art and Frame Expo and Trade Show. The West Coast Art and Frame Show is the largest trade show in the framing industry and it is happens once a year in Las Vegas. We stayed at the Paris Hotel and Casino where the convention was held. The last few years, we had not been able to attend the expo because of our antiquing travels in Europe and we were long past overdue for updated inventory.

Piles of decorative oil paintings. We found some great dogs!

Piles of decorative oil paintings. We found some great dogs!

The West Coast Art and Frame Show is our go-to market for items for our picture framing gallery. Vendors from all over the globe set up their merchandise in the expo. We spent two and a half days visiting booths and placing orders for the gallery portion of our store. We were hoping to buy some quality oil paintings and complimentary wood carved frames. In addition, we looked for other supplies and took advance of show specials. Vendors showcase their latest merchandise and offered deals on discounted stock. We skipped the classes held throughout the week, because if Philip doesn’t know how to do something after 40 years in the business, chances are he’s not going to try it now.

New frame style: looks like leather. Will look great in a men's club room.

New frame style: looks like leather. Will look great in a men’s club room.

We liked our hotel. The Paris is a typical theme Vegas resort. The Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower aren’t quite the same as the originals that we’ve seen in Paris France while shopping for antiques. But we liked staying close to the convention and the hotel is in a good location on the strip. In addition, there is a mailing facility in the hotel, so we were able to ship home the oversized oil paintings.

It would have been easier to climb to the top of this Arc than the original one we climbed in Paris.

It would have been easier to climb to the top of this Arc than the original one we climbed in Paris.

Our last two days were spent kicking around Vegas, both on the strip and downtown. The weather cooperated and we wore down the traction on our shoes. This was our fifth trip together to Vegas and we noticed a few changes. Food is the entertainment now. Cooking shows have made the chefs celebrities in Vegas. Lounge singers are gone and over-priced restaurants have taken over. Seriously, $200 plus a tip for spaghetti and one meatball??!!!

Not many people go to the downtown area during the day, so that's where we headed.

Not many people go to the downtown area during the day, so that’s where we headed.

Some of the downtown casinos have undergone attempted transformations, none of which were interesting. And the price of a colossal shrimp cocktail has increased from $.99 to $3.99 at the Golden Gate Casino. Our age is starting to show! We did have fun watching two non-English speaking Japanese ladies try to figure out how to play roulette at the California Club. Chances are that dealer took some Advil during her break. We know we did.

Yummy Shrimp Cocktail.

Yummy Shrimp Cocktail.

Best part of the vacation was the Cirque du Soleil’s performance of “Love”, a celebration of the Beatles music. Cool and groovy! Do people still say cool, or groovy? Well, they should! And they would if they saw “Love”.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

5 Days to Snatch a Bargain

Robertson Gallery & Antiques, Springfield Missouri

Robertson Gallery & Antiques, Springfield Missouri

Get excited and grab your Christmas money! Philip has declared everything in the store over $300 is 20% off for 5 days only.

 

Friday, December 26

Saturday, December 27

Monday, December 29

Tuesday, December 30

Wednesday, December 31

 

English antiques included!

Leave a comment

Filed under Events