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from TeaAntiques.com
Edition One Hundred and Eighteen

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Featured Antique - Coalport 'Thomas Rose' Hand Painted Smooth Oval Teapot, Decorated in Orange and Gilt 'Grape Vine' Bands, c1805

A most attractive smooth straight sided oval teapot from the famous Coalport factory of John Rose, c1805. The teapot is beautifully decorated by hand with wide bands of orange and gilded grape vine decoration.

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.

'The Nutcracker' works its Christmas magic at Hinton Ampner

The magic of Christmas was brought to life at Hinton Ampner house for its special Christmas opening for 2014. The theme of the Christmas decoration was taken as the famous ballet story of 'The nutcracker'. For children and adults alike, this was a splendid walk into an enchanted world.

The experience begins even before you set foot into the house. Outside a wicker set of Reindeer head towards the house pulling Santa's sleigh. A great photo opportunity for parents as the children could sit in the sleigh and pretend to be driving the Reindeer along. Each of the Reindeer had their names attached to them, including the most famous of all 'Rudolf' who was at the front with his bright red nose!

On the lawn in front of the house are a band of wicker mice around a Christmas tree - mice, as you will find out, play an important role in 'The Nutcracker' story. Also, standing to attention either side of the front entrance to the house are two giant Nutcracker tin soldiers, with their resplendent red uniforms and black caps.

Upon entering the house, the story begins!

In the large entrance hall is a large Christmas tree full of brightly coloured decorations and underneath the tree are a stack of Christmas presents. It is Christmas Eve and and young Clara and her brother Fritz are gathered with their family to celebrate. They are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the children's Godfather Herr Drosselmeyer who always arrives with wonderful gifts for them. This year he arrives and gives Clara a beautiful Nutcracker doll, which she is delighted with. However, her brother Fritz is so jealous of her present that he grabs hold of it and throws it across the room and the Nutcracker sadly breaks! Clara is devastated and very upset. She is comforted by her Godfather who picks up the Nutcracker doll and thoughtfully ties a ribbon around the head of the Nutcracker and promises Clara that he will fix the doll for her.

As we progress with the story, we move through into the yellow Drawing Room. At one end of the room is an old bed, Clara's bed. Here we see on the pillow Clara's Nutcracker doll, its head tied with the ribbon, she has taken him to bed to care for him until the morning. On the bed is Clara's nightdress, and below the bed her slippers. Her party dress is hung over the foot of the bed. On the bedside table a copy of 'The Nutcracker' story book, tied around with a red ribbon. A teacup is next to it, in which is one of the wicked mice from the story.

As Clara sleeps she is wakened by the clock striking midnight, at which point she wakes into a magical story. Strange things begin to happen! All the things around her are growing in size, including the Christmas tree, Nutcracker, presents etc until they are towering above her. This too is when the wicked mice appear!

In the other part of the Yellow Drawing room, we follow in the footsteps of Clara and see the huge Christmas tree with a gigantic Nutcracker standing by it. The tree is beautiful decorated with colourful baubles and glass soldiers. Soldiers can be seen on the floor around the tree and a soldier band surround a giant red drum, on top of which is the band master.

All the Christmas presents are under the tree, some have grown to very large size, decorated with flowers and a Christmas cracker has grown to oversize and has exploded with a shower of bright flowers erupting from within.

Looking around carefully, this is where the wicked little mice appear, one creeps from under the settee, another from behind the cushion. These mice are led by the wicked mouse King. The soldiers are getting ready to do battle with these mice.

In the next room, The Library, the room is shown filling with mice, led by the ferocious mouse King. The soldiers in their army wear blue as their battle colour, the mice use red as theirs. On the fireplace, at one end we see a group of soldiers in their blue uniforms, waving their swords and carrying their blue banners. On the other side of the fireplace are a group of mice also wielding their tiny swords and carrying their red banners about to entre battle.

Led by the Nutcracker, groups of soldiers amass around the room, smartly dressed with drums and cannons. Bands of wicked mice also appear and soon enter battle with the soldiers. Such battles are depicted in scenes around the room, mice and soldiers locked in battle. Spot the cowardly white mice, hiding behind one of his friends!

As the battles rage, casualties result and on top of the Library steps, a field hospital has been set up to treat the wounded soldiers. Here the nurses attend the soldiers' wounds as they are brought in on stretchers. A gingerbread soldier is to be seen on a stretcher with his head broken off! As the nurses apply their magical healing powers the mice are in hot pursuit of the hospital as they climb the Library steps brandishing their swords.

On a table at the far end of the room can be seen the mouse King who had been sat upon his throne. As the Nutcracker does battle with the mouse King, Clara throws her slipper at the mouse King hitting him straight on the head, knocking him to the ground. Thus defeated, the army of mice all disappear and the Nutcracker turns into a handsome young Prince. The young and handsome Prince is grateful to Clara and introduces himself to her. He is Prince Karl, and many years ago he had been cursed by the wicked mouse King, turning him into the nutcracker doll. He remained as the Nutcracker doll until Clara defeated the mouse King. He is now a Prince once more and free at last of the curse. He leads Clara on a journey through an enchanted forest in the land of snow and ice; this we see in the Study.

The Study is transformed into the enchanted icy forest where there is snow on the ground, the cold shown to be entering down the great chimney, brought in by a wave of white flowers and foliage, drifting snow across the forest floor. Logs, forest mushrooms and forest animals can be seen. The Prince's blue cape is draped over the end of the sofa and his black boot are on the floor below.

Clara, led by the Prince through the forest arrive at the kingdom of sweets, depicted in the Dining Room. A spectacle to behold, entering this room the dining table is groaning under the weight of sweets, meticulously laid out in formal patterns. They are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy whose Palace they are in, they are introduced to the Sweets and Flowers of her Court.

To one side is another table showing the countries of the world from where the sweets are from in this enchanted sweet kingdom. The table is shown depicting each country with a tableaux of famous landmarks of the country and what it is famous for in making up the sweet banquet. China for its tea, Arabia for coffee, Turkey for Turkish delight, Germany for its Gingerbread, etc. Each county having dolls dressed in national costume.

The dining table certainly is a sight to behold, myriad little sweets forming a carpet of confectionery over the entire table. There are tea cups upon the table each with their own flower display in them. The gingerbread Palace is set upon the sideboard; here merriment can be seen with dancing Cossacks and cannons fire sherbet spaceship sweets in celebration.

Clara is delighted with the Sweets and Flower people who all dance for her and the Prince. As the time passes, the Prince and Clara finally bid farewell to the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Sweet and Flower people and take their leave. In the passageway beyond the Dining room is seen the Prince and Clara leaving the Sweet Kingdom in a sleigh pulled by Reindeer.

On their journey, the Prince and Clara talk about all they have seen and of the new friends they have made in the Sweet Kingdom. As they progress on their journey, Clara grows sleepy from the adventures they have had and eventually falls fast asleep. When she awakes, she is back in her own bed with the nutcracker doll, the tree and presents are all back to their normal size and she wonders if had all been a dream! It may have been a dream, but for children and visitors to Hinton Ampner - it was certainly magic!

Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hinton-ampner


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