Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Everything English

Now that I am hooked on the PBS soap, Downton Abbey, I am intrigued by everything English. Actually, I mix English, French, Asian, and German-American items to make a uniquely American decor. However, in the spirit of Masterpiece Theatre, I thought it might be fun to look around my home and find the English influences.

When you enter the first piece that greets you is an English dresser with barley twist legs, stretcher base, and William and Mary ball feet. I always think barley twist legs are quintessential British.
In the dining room, British knife boxes flank each end of the sideboard. These are George III ca. 1790 with inlaid shaped fronts.
 In the butler passage between the kitchen and dining room is a built-in dish cupboard featuring green Majolica plates. 
The pattern is a traditional English pattern first displayed at the Great Exhibition in London in the mid 1800s. The Minton Company, then Wedgwood, and other Staffordshire companies also produced the pottery. I bought eight of these in England, and they are stamped Wedgewood. I love the vivid green with its leaf and vine pattern.

The brass coal hod or coal scuttle in the kitchen is also British. One might think this was once a wine cooler, but the cover gives away its use as a way to transport coal from cellar to stove.
I carried the fireplace fender in the living room on a plane from London to Philadelphia, before 9-11.  I don't think such an item could pass the transportation security agents today.
You also might notice a second coal scuttle in this picture on the right. And the painting over the mantel is  a British landscape.
Also in the living room, the British influence continues with the coffee table. This interesting piece was once a Bagatelle game box. The game (a mini version of billiards) which originated in France came to England in 1819, and later became popular in the United States. Supposedly, there is even a picture of Abraham Lincoln playing the game. Nowadays, you can find the British game boxes on stands. They make wonderful coffee tables.
A pair of Eagle brackets are mounted on the living room wall.
One would suppose the eagle motif to be American, but actually these are British oak, gilded for a refined look.
The last British touch in the living room is the mahogany library breakfront bookcase. The Gothic arches in the upper windows nod to its heritage.
Moving on to our library, you can find brass pieces purchased while on a trip to England a number of years ago. I always think that shiny brass shows up nicely against the cherry paneling.
watering can
footed bowl
And the final British touch is also in the library.  Sitting next to the sofa is a mahogany canterbury which you might recognize as a magazine rack.
Our home isn't a manor house like Downton Abbey by any stretch of the imagination, but the British influence is quiet comfortable in our American abode.