|Edition One Hundred and Seventeen|
A striking John Rose Coalport teapot and stand of waisted spiral fluted form and beautifully decorated in cobalt blue and gilded decoration , c1798.
John Rose had been an apprentice to Thomas Turner at the Caughley factory until aged 21 when he set up his own manufacturing company with Edward Blakeway at Jackfields around 1793. By 1796, they had set up a works across the other side of the River Severn at Coalport, from where this delightful teapot originated.
More details of this item and other tea related antiques can be found by visiting my web site at www.TeaAntiques.com.
In the depth of winter, Petworth Park House comes alive in the celebration of the Christmas season. Although the house itself is not open, the servants' wing containing the kitchens, butler's pantry, still room, dairy etc. come alive with the very spirit of Christmas. Designed to intrigue and delight children, it is also quite a spectacle for us adults to enjoy.
Each year many National Trust properties embrace the Christmas period with some decorations and functions with a particular theme at each. Petworth in 2013 came up with the 'Mousses Tail', a story of how a group of mice were preparing for their very fine Christmas celebrations along side, but unobserved, by the servants producing the feast for their masters.
From the car park, visitors have the pleasurable walk up though the Eighteenth century landscaped grounds, gaining wonderful views and vistas including magnificent specimen trees, classical temples and finally the house.
The domestic servants' buildings are separate to the house, but connected to it by an underground passage, so servants can traverse without being seen by the nobility. Entering these domestic buildings with its long corridors, the visitor is transformed into a magical Christmas fantasy. Starting by entering the huge kitchens, visitors are advised to let their eyes become accustomed to the every low light levels, all part of the atmosphere, to glance to their right into the pastry oven.
The pastry oven is lit inside and there inside is a miniature mouse 'Jean-Paul' a famous pastry chef mouse who is busy cooking up a storm in the pastry oven. There he is behind the kitchen table hard at work creating lots of fine pastries for the mousses Christmas feast. To one side he has his cooking range and the other his kitchen dresser with all the necessities to carry out his task. Behind him are some human sized pastry tart cases, placed there by the real chef. Alongside each such mouse scene there is a little board of information explaining what is going on in the mousses tail. This particular board explains that 'Lord and Lady Roquefort (fellow mice) have hired him for the Christmas period to wow their guests with his tasty treats. Just look at all the delicious cakes. tartlets and pastries that he has already made, it's enough to make your mouth water!'
Venturing into the kitchen from out of the low light the kitchen comes to life with the Christmas fantasy. The huge old kitchen table has on it a huge gingerbread house, an exact copy of Petworth House. The centre windows are lit inside and by bending down to glance inside, there are some tiny mice in there decorating it for their Christmas party. They are expecting a visit from Father Christmas, who if the baby mice have been good, will deliver lots of presents down the gingerbread chimney. Father Christmas mouse can be seen on the roof of the gingerbread house. Icing sugar is spread across the table like snow and on one end of the table an enormous bread loaf gateaux.
One of the kitchen maids, dressed for a party, attends the table and the feast which includes a stuffed Peacock and swan on large platters on the enormous kitchen dresser below all the many copper saucepans on the shelves.
At the far end of the kitchen, looking after the kitchen range on which is cooking a whole pig, is the rather beautifully dressed cook. She wears a billowing black and white stripped dress, apron and cooks cap. She is there to baste the meat on the spit to make sure it is succulent.
On the side in the kitchen is a large Turtle floating in its own soup and inside its shell are pirate mice!
Next door in the scullery, Tabitha the scullery maid, having had maybe a little too much to drink has allowed a mountain of washing up to accrue on the table and she has accidentally left the kitchen sink running, which is now cascading mock water and soap suds all over the scullery floor! The lighting in this room is an atmospheric icy blue.
On the side is one of the tiny mice, Samuel the scullery man has been washing and scrubbing pots and pans since 5 o'clock this morning but the dirty dishes seem to be growing instead of shrinking!
Next door, the head chef is in his room asleep in front of the fire having been sampling too many of the wines selected for the feast! The abandoned empty wine bottles can be seen on the butler's tray.
In the cold dark Still Room things turn fishy! On the floor is a shallow tank of water containing real gold fish, above which hanging in the air, lots of model fish of many colours and form. On the side are other shell fish, a large pink crab can be seen emerging from a large copper pan and an oyster sits with its shell wide open revealing a very large white pearl.
On the side on a shelf is a mouse fishing for a fish in a large bowl of water - I think he has caught one to be cooked for their Christmas feast!
In the Meat Larder is a depiction of forest foraging going on. The bosky surroundings of this woodland larder are home to the Huntsman who has paused in his chase to enjoy lunch amongst the deep litter of leaves and mushrooms. The hunt is on for wild mushrooms, nuts and berries for the feast. The mice can be seen within the undergrowth gathering what they may.
In the icy cold dairy is a magical scene of a giant multi layered white iced Christmas cake. A naughty maid has climbed some wooden steps is about to add take a taste of the cake left to chill in the snowy surroundings. This icy white scene is broken by some colour of a mouse scene within the cake. The mice have eaten their way into the cake and there they are enjoying a snow ball fight in the snow.
The final room shows the Christmas banquet feast in all its glory in a truly magical white setting. Here, all the dishes from the kitchen will be presented in a cavalcade of opulence and excess. Two grand ladies and a gentleman in eighteenth century dress attend the feast, their garments and wigs cleverly all made from paper! The table in all its white glory is decorated with white china and silver, the only bright colour a red flamingo at the top of the table centrepiece. Christmas trees surround the magical table with their pure white lights. Lights too are draped around the table. While the guests enjoy their feat to the accompaniment of grand opera in the background the mice enjoy their feat too!
Unnoticed by the main guests, the mice have their own Christmas table creaking under the weight of their Christmas fare. They sit at their fine table wearing their Christmas party hats, with their Christmas crackers on the table and a beautifully decorated Christmas tree by their side. A magical end to a magical Christmas story at Petworth House. I wonder what they will come up with to delight us and lots of young children next year?
Details:Address: Petworth House, Petworth, West Sussex, GU28 0AE
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