Saturday, 15 May 2010

Family Heritage

As some of you know, I've been looking after my aunt since she was discharged from hospital. I lived with her (and my uncle) many years ago when I was a teen, and although we've been in regular touch since then, I hadn't spent so very many hours and days together for a long time.

I asked her about her bureau:

I already knew my late grandfather (her father) had made it - but what I hadn't realised is that he made ALL the furniture for their home before he married my grandmother! Only the bureau and a small chess table remain in the family, and my aunt has promised them to me.

Imagine - he made two wardrobes, his and hers chests and dressing table, dining table and chairs, bookcases, the beds - EVERYTHING! He took over the family building firm in time, so he obviously knew what he was doing!

I remember him making me some stilts when I was a child, and a bagatelle game which I still own. I was quite rude about it at the time - he'd made it the traditional way, with a little stick to shove the ball up the alley. I wanted a "proper" spring loaded firer - so he added one.

At home, I have what is probably the last remaining piece of my grandparent's combined work, hti sfirescreen thta stands in my fireplace all summer, once the need for a log fire is over:

My grandmother did the embroidery, my grandfather was (of course) the carpenter.

Finally - I found a knitting pattern in a charity shop and snapped it up immediately:

I remember quite vividly knitting these outfits with my grandmother for my Sindy doll - must have been early 60s. I couldn't manage sewing in the zip or crocheting the edge on the blue and white suit, so she finished them for me.

I remember feeling very uncertain when knitting the stripy dress. My grandmother gave me scraps of wool to use up (as you would) and they weren't the specified colours - I wasn't sure that was "allowed". That says a lot about me!

It's true, isn't it - you don't know what you've got till it's gone?

What's family history mean to you? Is there anything at home that's been passed down?


louise35flower said...

How wonderful to have such treasures, your grandfather was remarkable to make all their furniture.
Among other things, I have a small dressing table that was made by my great grandfather when he retired from the navy. My daughter has it now and loves it not just as a piece of furniture but also that she can say her great great grandfather made it!

Heather Leavers said...

that's exactly right Louise - I'm sure if I saw the bureau in a shop it'd be unremarkable: but it's got such stories to tell.

Christals Creations said...

Aww what wonderful memories.
I have a fern from my great grandmothers garden it sits on my kitchen windowsill. The cat once depotted it but it's a strong old thing and survived.
Fiona @ Christals Creations

Jane Carlstrom said...

Oh Nifty, what a great article. Enjoyed very much this tour through your family heirlooms and memories. My home too has many hand crafted items - from both my family and from husband's too. Then we have a goodly number of handcrafted items that came along as gifts from friends over the years of our marriage (40 years); and lately more things purchased from online friends.

And yes, the family pieces are particularly treasured. Hmmm, perhaps a weekly post about Family Heritage is in order. Thanks for leading me down this posting path.
Cheers, Jane

Heather Leavers said...

christals - us oldies are!

jane - I look forward to a ramble through your treasures!

Lenny said...

Oh, this is such a lovely entry. I don't have anything like that from my family, sadly. I had some old toys as a kid that my Uncle and Dad had when they were little and they're in my parents' loft.

I was tidying up under our bed and found myself looking at J's school books from when he was little, I framed a couple of pieces. There's a recipe for jam tarts and I obviously don't know how old he was when he wrote it, but it's so sweet. They're in the kitchen. :)

irishsetter said...

The furniture looks lovely, Linda x

Aileen Clarke Crafts said...

Such an amazing mad to make all that furniture! Love the joint effort on the fire screen : )
Your bit about the stripes made me smile. I can imagine that feeling.
I have my Grandparents old bureau but it wasn't home made. I have my Granny's old china in my wall mounted plate wrack which is nice. The children also play with a tiny little bashed saucepan that my Granny always heated the peas in. I like that they have it to play with. It often prompts stories from my own childhood.

Aileen Clarke Crafts said...

oh no! meant to say such an amazing MAN.'s getting late......and I may have had wine.

Heather Leavers said...

Thanks everyone - love these memories. Aileen, after you said that, I can also remember a tiny saucepan my grandmother sued for peas - I wonder why? What's so special about peas that they deserve a saucepan to themselves?

Twiglet said...

That's a lovely blog - what a wonderful pair your grandparents were and how super to have the firescreen that they made as a combined effort.

Felix said...

What a beautiful post. I love the heritage of family objects and heirlooms; the objects that are made and then kept within families and all the resonance and feeling that they retain...

What treasures you have here from your Aunt! The bureau is fantastic and I found your account of the Sindy dresses very moving.

I mostly knit plain strips with my Gran when I was learning to knit, but I do remember her finishing off a complex owl-toy sewing pattern once, and her and my Grandad had the carpenter/seamstress balance that you describe so well in your Aunt and Uncle's relationship.