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Edition Fifty One

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Featured Antique - A delightful Caughley cylindrical fluted Milk Jug, decorated with the 'Temple' pattern, marked with the  Salopian 'S' mark, c1785

This beautiful milk jug has a tapering cylindrical body that has moulded ribbed vertical fluting, this creates a delightful shape to the jug.

There is a sparrow beak shaped poring lip which is perfectly balanced by the scrolled handle of the jug and the rim of the jug is scalloped.

The decoration of the jug is in underglaze blue with a print of the 'Temple' pattern. This is a pattern associated with Caughley and was not frequently used by the rival Worcester factory. The pattern is of an oriental scene, with a temple and a person crossing a stone bridge on horseback shaded by a man with a parasol. Other characters are to be seen within this pleasant scene, including a pair sailing in a boat.

There is the Caughley manufacturer's marks on the base, this the Salopian blue 'S' mark and dates from c1785.

This delightful Caughley jug is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, repairs or restoration. It is a very fine Caughley jug for the connoisseur collector of Caughley or early English porcelain.

More details of this item and other tea related antiques can be found by visiting my web site at www.TeaAntiques.com.

Southside House, Wimbledon, South London

February is one of the darkest months of the year in England, so I thought that I would brighten this cold winter month by sharing with you a visit that I did to a remarkable house last summer. This house is I think a little known gem, that is there waiting for people to discover its beauty and many hidden treasures!

The house is set amongst suburban Wimbledon, on the South side of Wimbledon Common. It was, when originally built, a remote Tudor manor house far from the crowded streets of London City. The house has gone through many hands since then, but has remained within the same family for many hundreds of years.

In the seventeenth century a cousin of the then owner, asked if he could move there with his family to escape the 'Great Plague' that was sweeping through London, killing many of London's inhabitants. Being out in the country, it was thought that the air would be fresher and the chances of surviving this disaster would be far higher. Of course, after the plague came the great fire of London, which in turn destroyed much of the old city of London. As there was no return to their London home, Southside became their home.

Southside House was rather an old fashioned Tudor house, not at all grand and lacking the opportunity for commodious and fashionable living. So, the house was transformed into what we see today, a red brick fronted Georgian house. In order to cut the expense, the old manor house was not pulled down but faced and encased to create the Georgian house. Many of its Georgian features were carried out on the cheap. Outside, the brick facade was only one brick deep and inside cheaper methods of construction were also employed, such as wood, painted to look like stone. The overall effect was still very convincing. In one room, the Tapestry Room, now hang a rare set of tapestries - except that they in fact not stitched tapestries, but scenes painted on Linoleum cloth to look like tapestries. This is a remarkable set, the like of which I have never seen.

Approaching the house, it is hidden behind a brick wall at the front with trees and shrub behind, so the first real glance that you get when visiting is when you make your way through the gates from the road. My first impression was that it was a house that had developed over the years to look rather like a forbidding school or a house that has been forgotten. It rather reminded me of the house in the Charles Dickens novel 'Great Expectations' in which Miss Haversham remained in a state of decay having been jilted on her wedding day and from that point time had stood still. I was to find that inside it pretty well resembled it too - a place where time has passed it by!

The front of the house, shows some architectural symmetry, with a central doorway in a central bay, with a pedimented bay on either side, the central bay surmounted by a clock tower on the roof. Breaking the symmetry, is a brick bay to the right of the doorway, this the Breakfast Room of the house.

Visitors are, by a sign, requested to go round the side to the back of the house to be received in the Outer Hall. The house from behind looks strangely curious. It does not have an overall elevation profile, but instead almost looks like three buildings joined to give one house. To the left is the Georgian symmetry again of the Garden Hall with a handsome Georgian wooden door case, with pretty fanlight above the door. The canopy of the door case showing typical Georgian decoration in and around the pediment. To the right of the Outer Hallway block is what appears to be a church tower and then to the right of that a plain flat fronted Georgian brick elevation with a stone terrace with a stone balustrade and stone statues.

The garden, upon first glance appears very compact. But there is a gate that leads to a garden, which like the house, is full of surprises! This green and leafy garden is rather overgrown, in a 'controlled' manner and is a tranquil garden rather reminiscent of a classical Italian garden in miniature. The garden is divided into compartments or rooms of differing style. There is a manmade stream running through part of it in an informal nature with an island. In contrast, there are formal vistas with temples, urns and statues at the end. Some of these are not quite what they seem, one such temple, is now in a state of disrepair, and is obvious from closer inspection that it a cheaper 'sham' of a temple, constructed of wood and plaster, with a painted back drop of a classical statue. This reflecting the statue in stone at the front of the house that represents 'Plenty'. Another temple has pink marble columns and painted on the back wall a picture of Saint George slaying the dragon.

Other charming features within this hidden garden are a shell grotto, ruined pieces of classical statues, a working vegetable garden and an orchard.

Entering the house, I was welcomed by a guide, who I was later to discover, had known the owner (who died in 1996) and was herself both knowledgeable and passionate about the house. The Garden Hall, has walls with traces of trompe l'oeil paintings on the wall to create the look of windows and plaster details. The house has connections with some interesting and famous people, such as Admiral Lord Nelson, Lady Hamilton, Frederick, Prince of Wales to name but a few. In the Hall is a delightful old wooden rocking horse on its rockers which belonged to Lady Hamilton's and Lord Nelsons daughter Heratia. This famous couple had a house near Southside House,  Merton House - now alas demolished. A budgerigar sits in a cage suspended high up from the ceiling and over which is growing a vine type plant, wending its way round and over the cage. The bird chirping away gives a lived-in feel straight away to this house, along with a cat who is happy to roam freely round the house as we set off on the tour, which lasts a good 1 hours.

From the outer hall, we go through a narrow passage in which hang a remarkable miniature set of portraits of family members in gilded frames. It is a remarkable set, with a fine set of head and shoulder portraits, these apparently copies taken from full length portraits that were in one of the other family homes. Another interesting painting is of what appears a woman, but is apparently a man dressed as a woman, who was an eighteenth century spy and who dressed as a woman could infiltrate the court to gain its secrets.

Passing on, we enter the Breakfast Room. The room, like the rest of the house is in what looks an original state, pretty well untouched since the day it was created. In the centre of the room stands an oval drop leaf breakfast table laid with a porcelain tureen and soup plates from a set, the rest of which is displayed on an oak dresser. The room has its original red silk hangings on the walls, these are in tatters in places, but adding immensely to the atmosphere of this room. The decorative frieze around the room, just below the ceiling, is of embossed Spanish leather. It is decorated with swags of fruit and flowers and would have been painted and gilded, but much of this has now deteriorated through the passage of time.

The house is still a lived in as a home, one of about three that the owner has. It has a lived-in feel, with gin bottles on the dresser and sugar mice on the plates! Portraits of family members from not too long ago, are on the walls, one such portrait is hung on a door that to my amazement led to a very large and narrow Dining Room. In this room, which comes as quite a shock for the size of the house, has a fireplace positioned off to one side at the end of the room. The carved stone fire surround built around the original Tudor fireplace. The smell of burnt logs is apparent in all the rooms, as if the fire has not long gone out. A huge long table is laid with a blue and white dinner service and blue wine glasses. This room I was told, is used for dinners and banquets of all sorts. On the walls are yet more very fine family portraits, including one of the only Duke in the family. He was in the eighteenth century a rake, rather a spend thrift, gambler, drinker and philanderer. He was a member of the 'Hell Fire Club' and also a Jacobite. By his thirties he was ruined and exiled to France where he died. Having brought disgrace on the name of the family, it took some time and careful planning by his heirs to gain respect of the monarch. This was achieved in a cunning plan in 1750, when King George II, together with his Son, Frederick, Prince of Wales were to review their soldiers on Wimbledon common. The family offered them to stay at Southside House and had room specially decorated for them. However, the King and the Prince of Wales did not get on at all, and refused to be in the same building as one another. Thus it was only the Prince of Wales who stayed at Southside House, the King lodged in another house. This still got the family back into the good books with the royal family.

Tracing our steps back through the Breakfast room, we passed through a double door into the Entrance Hall - and what a grand Entrance Hall it is. Rather in the style of Dutch Baroque, it houses a heavy staircase of wood, but which has baluster rails carefully painted to appear to be of stone. The ceiling has been painted in baroque style with putti, etc. in 1959 by Peter, one of the family members, who was an artist. This ceiling is a painted recreation of the original ceiling that was sadly lost by a bomb during World War II. The Hall houses some old reproduction seventeenth century style furniture, including a centre table with oyster shell type marquetry.

Making our way up the stairs and along some narrow passages we reach the Library. The only Victorian decorated room in the house. This was obviously intended to be the comfortable relaxation room of the house in that period. There are bookcases lined with books and include books written by the owner. There are a few old-fashioned typewriters in the room, one with a curious convex shaped keyboard.

The next room is the room especially designed as the bedroom for the Royal visitor, The Prince of Wales in 1750. It has the original bright yellow silk wall hangings and a bed which has the Prince of Wales feathers in silver thread embroidered onto the rich red headboard. Now, the light of day is never allowed in, thus protecting these rare and valuable fabrics. There is a cabinet in the room, which houses some fascinating treasures with Royal connection. These include diamond encrusted cuff links - a present from King Edward VI; Gold and Diamond Snuff boxes and most interesting of all, a pearl necklace said to have belonged to Marie Antoinette, and which were rescued from her person upon her execution in France in the late eighteenth century.

The next place to visit was a private family chapel, created at the back of the house and what I had seen as a church tower like construction on the rear elevation of the house.

The final room to be viewed was back downstairs at the rear of the house, this the grand Music Room which overlooks the terrace and balustrade wall. Again, this was created again for the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1750. It was formed by knocking two smaller rooms into one. The effect is a well-proportioned room with an open screen of square partial gilded Ionic columns in the centre. The walls are of a pastel grey with gilt panelling, alcoves at one end have white classical statues in them. There is a very rare set of Irish cut glass wall Chandeliers around the rooms walls. These are almost like full chandeliers rather than wall lights and must give a brilliant sparkle to the room when lit. The room houses a grand piano, and is used for public concerts.

In the Music Room there is some fine and delicate looking saloon furniture and a Victorian ebonised envelope card table. Other items of interest are a self portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds, below which is one of his own wooden painting palates. A portrait of Lady Hamilton also adorns the walls of this room, and it it is in this room that she is said to have performed her 'attitudes' of classical figures for Lord Nelson.

That concluded what was most interesting tour and one that I would recommend if you ever have the chance. Not only is the house open to the public during the summer months, it also has special winter openings when the tours are given by candlelight. The atmosphere on such a candlelit tour must be fantastic and I hope to do one myself.

Southside House
Woodhayes Road
Wimbledon Common
London, SW19 4RJ

Tel: 020 8946 7643
Website: http://www.southsidehouse.com

Click here for Local Map
Map courtesy of www.streetmap.co.uk

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