I am constantly hearing people say that they don't use their linen tablecloths any more, particularly embroidered ones as they think of them as too formal for the way we live nowadays.
It is such a shame as in the interiors press and online I see lots of companies offering linen tablecloths and napkins and saying how wonderful the fabric is etc etc. But we know that already!
Well there's no need to buy new if you already have vintage linen in your cupboard - just think of it a different way. People often regard taupe embroidered Madeira cloths as old fashioned or dated, but I love to use mine layered over a plain cloth and last weekend I set a table in the garden for a lunch with friends. Everyone loved the mix of old and new!
I recently came across 2 images from the 1940s and 50s which both tell of very different days in terms of linen, its production and care.
First of all the photo of linen being spread out on a bleaching green.
The label on the back of the photo reads as follows:
"Northern Ireland: An elderly worker spreads out fine damask linen on the grass to bleach in the sun." Dated November 1949. The worker doesn't look that "elderly" to me, but this is how he was perceived in the press in the USA. This photo came from the archives of a New York press agency.
The second image made me laugh out loud. Again from the archives of an American press agency, this one is entitled "Winsome Twosome"!
Dated November 1957, the label gives us more informatio...
I love nothing better than to play with colour and texture when setting a table in the garden. Our summers are so brief and unreliable that it is great to make an effort when the sun does shine!
Recently I have acquired a couple of lovely white cutwork table cloths and runners and have had fun playing with them to add a touch of freshness to a cerise Revived Damask tablecloth.
With the addition of some Wisteria coloured Rainbow Damask napkins I was ready to have a friend round for a cup of coffee in the sunshine. The good china mustn't linger in the cupboard so I mix some of Mum's collection of Royal Crown Derby with a couple of mugs from Zara!
A couple of days later a few friends popped in for a cool drink and some fresh summer...
An amazing find this week. While working my way through auction catalogues, I stumbled on a wonderful leather-bound journal entitled "Inventory of Linen" and inside the handwritten inscription "Hawnes Park, Inventory of House Linen made in 1852 by A. C. Thynne". With Gold leaf tooling to the leather title label and hand marbled paper to the front and back end papers, this has been a beautiful item in its heyday. Now rather battered and dogeared, but the pages inside make for interesting reading.
I am no historian, but I do find the social history associated with this type of document quite fascinating. This journal gives the most interesting snapshot of life in a fine country house from the mid 1800s to 1929. The house later beca...
Whilst my main collecting interest has always been Irish Linen, I sometimes just cannot resist indulging in linens from elsewhere.
A month or so ago I was fortunate enough to acquire 2 huge bags full of bedlinen, which had been the trousseau of a Czechoslovakian lady. Just prior to the outbreak of war in 1939 she was studying in Switzerland and her parents, who were Jewish and could see what the future held, told her not to come home but to go to friends in England and they arranged to send on her belongings. Included in the parcels were these beautiful embroidered and monogrammed linens.
It is a real privilege to handle and examine these treasured pieces, which found their way to join their owner as she began her new life. Tragi...