Friday, 21 June 2013

Textiles from The Hermitage - a time capsule in Northumberland!

Today, Friday,  I have been to the last of the 4 day Country House sale of the contents of a very unique house. The Hermitage is a large house in Northumberland near Hexham which has been the home for the same family since 1922. Nothing unusual in that, as many homes remain in a family's possession for that length of time or even longer, however this is a rare survival of a house on a grand scale where two generations of the Morant family lived for ninety years and threw little away. 

The house was let, in 1922, to Brigadier General Hubert Horatio Shirley Morant, who had married Isabella Helen Coppin Straker in 1914. Their three children, Doreen Shirley (1915–2013), Alice Bettine (1918–2008) and Major John Locke Straker (1919–1971) all remained unmarried.  

These circumstances lead to a time capsule of a house. Time stood still and the house took on the qualities of a museum. 

The children’s toys in the Nursery packed away when their interest waned. Wash sets and chamber pots removed to the attics once more modern facilities had been installed. The cellars locked up, still with unopened champagne bottles from 1919, some in their original tissue paper and packing cases. Pharmaceutical items from the 1920’s, including chemicals now regarded as poisonous, crowded the medicine cupboard.

Diaries and household accounts giving insights into a bygone age of servants, whilst fishing and hunting records spoke of house parties.

Items no longer required were neatly wrapped in newspaper, tied with string and stored in the extensive attics.

Linens, baby clothes, lace, furs, evening gowns and other clothing were stored away in many of the bedrooms or in the attics.

One of the items that I bought was a box of over 150 Irish linen tea towels....all unused!

Another was a box of Harris and other tweed and wool fabrics.

It will take me a while to get through all the linens and lace as they have to be sorted, examined and then photographed ready for listing for sale. 

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