Monday, July 5, 2010

A Farm and a Rocking Chair

Another day, another adventure! The south of England is the destination, to a little farm I have never been to in the middle of nowhere and full of treasures. Most places we buy are so unexpected, the major cities would probably make up 3 days of the trip as a whole, and not much more. The treasures are generally somewhere you least expect it, and you really do have to sift to find it. The fact that 99% of things have not been restored and are sitting under centuries of dirt makes it even harder.
This little farm was particularly beautiful, and the inside was like stepping back in time. You drove in through these gates, along this leafy drive and arrived at a 16th, 17th, 18th century barn? Walk in through the doors and it's all there.

I really loved the rocking horse in this room but I found the most amazing armoire in the next room that I had to have and so rocking horse was quickly forgotten about.
Not your typical armoire either. This one was huge, looked Spanish and definitely 19th century with the most elaborate carving of leaves and flowers all over the front. It wasn't polished, and from memory almost looked as if it had been limed. It was a real country farmhouse piece, ideal for a big kitchen or lounge area. It's actually one of the only pieces didn't take a photo of, which while frustrating means I can get excited all over again when it comes out of the container.

We ambled through the rooms. At one stage I had this really weird feeling I was being watched by something. Looked up and sure enough sitting on the wall was this massive deer? The photo doesn't do it justice, but he was enormous and so, so beautiful. He looked as if he was alive. Hard to believe someone could kill something so gorgeous.

The day turned up quite a lot. One of the many was this pretty little 19th century French carved Louis XVI settee. Perfect for a bedroom!

My most exciting find however was this rocking chair. I LOVE IT! Just a warning here though...I could go on and on, and never stop.
Walked into the room and it was sitting on top of a table all by itself. I fell in love. It's a very fine quality 19th century, circa 1860 English gilded bent-wood rocking chair.

The gilt on this particular chair has almost completely worn off but there is evidence of it in small quantities all over the chair so that there is this beautiful patterned combination of paint or gesso and very soft, pale gold. The gilt, along with the fabric and shape are some of the clues to the exceptional quality of the piece. Particularly considering rocking chairs were never generally gilded.

They created this amazing shape by heating the wood in a steam box, until it was malleable, and then bent the wood into shape. When the structure cooled down again it became rigid and maintained the new form that it had been bent into. The shape on this one is particularly beautiful.

The fabric on the chair is original and I think is what most caught my eye. I'm sure one day I will have to watch while someone pulls it off and re-upholsters it, but I love it just as it is.
It was once obviously a really rich, soft velvet but has now been worn in areas, to a faded smooth surface. Yet another of the details I think just adds to it's beauty. When I was small, like most kids had a teddy bear and he had been used so much that his fur had matted and stuck together, and quite simply no longer really looked like fur. But when I bent him over and looked under his legs, his original fluffy fur was still underneath. This chair was like that. Everywhere you looked there was a little clue as to how it once would have been.

When you looked inside the deep buttoning, you could still see the velvet's former glory, where time and overuse hadn't been able to touch it and it was still soft and brightly coloured. But the combination of the worn velvet with the soft just created the most fantastic texture.
Anyone who appreciates textiles will surely have to appreciate this. Running up the centre of the rocking chair was this exquisite embroidery that had faded out but you could still see the flowers and the leaves.
I guess it's a piece that you either love or hate. I quite obviously love it I can't stop blathering, but to me it's so filled with character and age and history I couldn't look past it. I hope you like it as much as I do.

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