Commodes

A signboard next to these carefully crafted and decorated wooden objects informs that they are a pair of commodes:

The name is taken from the French word for a chest of drawers. They were introduced during the reign of King Louis XIV (1638-1715) and the style was adopted in the mid-1700s when French fashions became popular in Britain.

The term usually describes cupboards with curved or ’serpentine’ fronts, supported by legs. In this case the shape is a very plain rectangular chest with all the emphasis being on its elegant decoration.

Commodes were used on the principle floor of a house, either in the main reception rooms or in bedrooms and dressing rooms.

Many commodes were not functional at all but simply a means of showing off the decorative skill of the maker and they sometimes formed part of a decorative scheme for a complete interior.

This pair was functional and designed for use in a bedroom to store clothes. One of the interiors is fitted with shelves and the other with sliding drawers. The top has a narrow shelf which could be slid out, traditionally for use as a flat surface for brushing clothes.

Commodes

14 Comments CherryPie on Aug 7th 2017

Depth of friendship does not depend on length of acquaintance.

Rabindranath Tagore

Sunny Glow

10 Comments CherryPie on Aug 6th 2017

Croome Court

After Croome Court passed out of the hands of the Coventry family it had several owners each leaving their mark as can be seen in different rooms around the house.

In 1921 the 9th Earl set up the Croome Estate Trust, in order to ensure that the 15,000 acre estate would be preserved. However, in 1939, fate and the tragic circumstances of the Second World War intervened. The 10th Earl having volunteered when war was declared, was killed in the retreat to Dunkirk. A whole new chapter began when, after the war was over, such houses were not longer viable and had to be sold.*

Croome Court

Initially the Croome Estate was sold to the Roman Archdiocese of Birmingham. The house was adapted to become a Catholic junior boarding school for disadvantaged boys who were taught by Nuns. This part of the house’s history  lasted from the 1950s-1970s.

Croome Court

Croome subsequently became the headquarters for the Society for Krishna Consciousness. They provided a primary school for devotees and a worldwide centre for training students in Krishna Consciousness.

Croome Court

Croome Court

The house then became the base for various property developers until it came up for sale in 2004 when the Croome Trust were able to buy back the Coventry family’s ancestral home, whereupon they leased it to the National Trust for 999 years.

Croome Court

*Introduction to the National Trust Handbook of Croome (George Coventry, 13th Earl)

Source of information – National Trust Handbook of Croome

6 Comments CherryPie on Aug 5th 2017

The Ice House

Within the Church of St Mary Magdalene shrubbery, the ice house that served Croome Court can be found. The ice house became overgrown and filled with rubble when it ceased to be used in 1915.

The thatched roof was partly a decorative touch to make the building blend in with its surroundings but it also fulfilled a practical function of keeping it cool. More than two thirds of the building is below ground. The depth of the Ice House is 24 feet which is a surprising drop. The Ice House worked rather like a thermos flask. The walls are double-skinned, and ice would have been taken from a nearby pond in winter and packed into the chamber, which was lined with straw for extra insulation. Throughout the summer the ice from the Ice House would have been used to preserve food and cool drinks as well as to create ice creams and sorbets.*

*From the National Trust Croome Handbook

12 Comments CherryPie on Aug 3rd 2017

Buildwas Abbey

Shortly after lunchtime the sun made a brief appearance so I grabbed my my camera and headed off to Buildwas Abbey. It is a perfect tranquil place to enjoy the sunshine.

As I a sat on a bench I was reminded of a previous visit when I was treated to the sounds of a Benedictine chant from the chapter house. Today, however it was not the sounds of chanting I could hear it was the sounds of tweeting from the parlour. A family of swallows were nesting in there. The two parents kept flying out through the doorway and low past my legs whilst searching for a tasty snack for the youngsters. I sat in the sun watching them for a while before retreating to a different bench for a different view of the Abbey before making my way home.

I decided to drive back via the scenic route and along the way I was surprised when a peacock stepped out into the road. Luckily it changed its mind rather quickly and strutted back off in the direction it came from.

Buildwas Abbey

Buildwas Abbey

Buildwas Abbey

Self Portrait in the Chapter House Doorway

New Growth

14 Comments CherryPie on Aug 2nd 2017

Untitled

In the afternoon of the day before our trip to Manchester, I tried to fill the kitchen sink so that I could wash the pots from lunchtime. I noticed that the water was only tepid and thought that perhaps the hot water had been used up earlier in the day. There wasn’t time to turn the water on and heat it up because I was due to go out. It wasn’t a problem, I could wash them when I got home or so I thought at the time. However when I got home Mr C was sitting at his computer booking a gas service call. The water pump had failed. As we we had already booked train tickets for our Manchester adventure, the call had to be booked for Saturday. This meant no hot water for two days!

Mr C chose the 10-13.30 slot because we had visitors coming for an evening meal on Saturday evening and there were jobs that needed to be done after he left. At 11am the engineer had still not arrived and I suggested we ring British Gas. Mr C thought they would arrive soon so he decided not to ring straight away. When, a little later it became clear that they would not arrive before 12 o’clock he dialled British Gas and was put on hold in a queue for 25 minutes. Eventually someone took the call and we were advised that had been a lot of problem calls in the area and that the engineer would be with us between 12 o’clock and 6pm. Mr C told them that this was not good enough and that we had plans later in the day. After a bit of toing a froing between the call centre and the engineer the revised time remained before 6pm. Mr C was asked if this was acceptable to which he said ‘no but it will have to do’.

The engineer turned up at 2.15pm and confirmed it was the water pump that had broken. He then encountered a problem getting the old one off, it had apparently been soldered on. He then encountered another problem when he started to fit the new one. He was with us for nearly two hours! When he was gone we had to rush around doing the household jobs that we couldn’t do whilst he was there. If we had known he wasn’t coming in the morning some of them could have been done then! We just managed to get everything ready in time for our guests arrival at 7pm.

The new water pump doesn’t look as sturdy as the old one but at least the water is ‘very hot’ now. I think the old one had been on the blink for a while.

14 Comments CherryPie on Aug 1st 2017

Manchester Piccadilly

Last Friday Mr C took the day off work and we headed off to Manchester so that he could go clothes shopping. We arrived at the station in plenty of time to catch the train to Wolverhampton. The connecting train from Wolverhampton to Manchester was slightly delayed. Whilst we were waiting the display boards and announcement system developed a fault and failed.  That meant that the staff had to resort to manual announcements some of which were quite amusing.

When we got on the train my reserved seat was next to a lady with a young daughter sitting on her knee. The young girl was such a sweetie and was well behaved even when she got bored towards the end of the journey. At one point she was eating sweets from a bag, one of which was a long jelly snake. When the snake was fully emerged from the bag she pointed its head at me and said, ‘hiss’. I said, ‘is it coming to get me?’, causing her to giggle and her eyes to light up. A bit later in the journey she put her finger to her lips and said, ‘Shhh’ on more than one occasion. Shortly after this Mr C snapped his glasses case shut with a loud bang. He then put his finger to his lips and said, ‘Shhh’ causing her to giggle again.

Manchester Hilton Hotel

Manchester Hilton Hotel

On our arrival in Manchester we hopped onto a free bus into town, where it dropped us near to the Italian Restaurant, Don Marco, where we had booked an early lunch. As we walked that last bit of the way towards the restaurant Mr C pointed out the hotel that he had stayed in a couple of weeks ago when he was in Manchester on business. The skyscraper hotel emerged from behind some classic architecture towering above its surroundings. Rather him than me! I would have felt really uncomfortable sleeping in a place like that.  The view from the higher rooms, however, is spectacular as can be seen in the photograph below that was taken by Mr C.

Manchester from on High

John Ryland Library

Lunch was wonderful. We sat next to the window with a glass of wine and the sun shining in, watching the world go by. The sun however was short lived; as we left the restaurant it started to rain. It always rains in Manchester! As we made our way to the shops Mr C showed me some of the sights that he had found when he briefly worked in Manchester a few years ago. This included The John Ryland Library, the building where he worked, and an ornate passageway which led to St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, the ‘Hidden Gem’.

The Hidden Gem

St Mary's Roman Catholic Church

Entrance...

We then made our way to Waterstones for a quick browse around, where I was tempted to buy a book by Antonia Frazer. When we left the shop we found that the heavens had opened and it was now pouring down with rain. I managed to take a few photographs but it was rather difficult juggling a camera in one hand and an umbrella in the other. We carried on to the other shops that Mr C had on his list and when he had successfully completed his shopping spree we returned to the station, becoming rather soggy along the way.

Cathedral Glimpse

The Manchester Bee

There were two trains showing on the board and that we could choose from. We elected for the slightly later one with a change at Shrewsbury. This allowed us time to enjoy a drink (of the non-alcoholic variety) before it was time to catch the train. Unfortunately our choice of route turned out to be a mistake. The journey was pleasant looking out at the sights as the train sped along but when we got to Shrewsbury the connection train was not waiting on the platform as it should have been. We were informed that it had been cancelled and that we would have to catch the next one! We decided to have a cup of tea rather than wait outside on the platform. As we were drinking our tea we learned that the next train had also been cancelled and that the problem was a train had broken down on the line just outside Shrewsbury. There was no information available on how long the delay would be. There was also a separate problem with trains heading for Aberystwyth where a fault had developed on the track.

The trains in and out of Shrewsbury had ground almost to a halt. A little while later we were informed that replacement buses for the inaccessible destinations had been booked. However there was no information on how long they would take to arrive. We were eventually informed that the first bus had arrived and that we should make our way to the front of the station. We knew by the size of the crowd that it was unlikely that we would be able to get on it. When it came down to it, the two people in front of us got the last two seats on the bus. The bus was expected to go Wellington station where people could catch connecting trains to their destination and then return to pick up more passengers. However the bus didn’t return! As we waited for what turned out to be over an hour, other coaches arrived for people going to other destinations and the track problem on the other line was fixed. Some people called for taxis and shared them with others to reduce the cost. Others called for friends to come and pick them up.

As we waited we were kept entertained by the antics on the carpark. There was some rather alarming driving in the car park as taxis and cars came and went. An accident was bound to happen sooner or later. It turned out the culprit would be a small red mini car which came in slowly and parked at a very jaunty angle whilst waiting for a passenger. When the mini reversed up to leave it reversed into a taxi! Luckily there was no damage. A food delivery lorry arrived and reversed close to another taxi before opening the rear door to offload the delivery. This didn’t look very safe and caused the taxi driver to move his car to a safe distance. After the alarming unloading proceeding, the two lorry drivers dragged wheeled crates through the middle of the waiting passengers causing them to scatter. When they went to collect the second part of the delivery they decided on a different route and nearly crashed the crates into a taxi that was parked up.

In contrast to the young girl we had encountered on the morning train there was a young boy behaving like a naughty little monkey. He was vigorously shaking one of the poles that held hanging baskets. I am not sure where his parents were whilst this was going on. Eventually a station employee walked over to him and wagged his finger in a no no motion. The boy soon disappeared.

Eventually a much smaller bus arrived and the last of the commuters (including us) going in our direction were able to get on it. The bus and driving were rather worrying and I wondered if it was going to break down. It made some alarming noises as it sped up on the motorway. As we neared our destination instead of going to the station car park (which caters for buses) the driver opted to drive to the other side of the station up narrow roads and into the town centre. At one stage he mounted the curb as he was trying to turn avoiding a taxi that had parked on a corner on double yellow lines. The bus tilted alarmingly and I had visions of it tipping over onto the taxi. The driver reversed up a bit and managed the turn on his second attempt. After he had dropped us off at the station I was wondering how he was going to get the bus out of the narrow location where he dropped us off. We eventually arrived home at 21.15, more than two hours later than expected!

I would have liked a long soak in the bath when I got home, but that was not to be. The water pump on our heating system had broken down the day before leaving us with no hot water. But that is a story for another day…

14 Comments CherryPie on Jul 31st 2017

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