Blog - Building Beginnings

What am I bid?

clockAntimacassar anyone? A bronze tea urn perhaps? Or maybe an 8-day clock is more to your liking? All this and much more was open to inspection at a Shropshire farm furniture sale in 1886 when the tenants moved out. Why they didn’t want any of their furniture isn’t clear, but looking through the inventory prepared by the auctioneer is as close as we’ll get to accompanying him and looking at the possessions of this mid-Victorian family.

By the way, an 8-day clock is one you wound up every 8 days, as opposed to the 30-hour clock (which they also had) which needs winding every day. The 8-day mechanism was more expensive and was probably on display where visitors would see it.Victorian room


Of course many of the items they owned we still use today, but it’s those that speak of the period that stand out: the antimacassar to protect chair backs against gentlemen’s hair oil, all the paraphernalia for making tea, plus special glassware for serving custard, trifle, pickles and salt. The furniture was mostly mahogany and oak, the pianoforte was a standard item in most houses, and beds were loaded with bolsters, eiderdowns, coverlets and what have you. There were oilcloths and rugs on the floor, barometers on the wall, and door scrapers at the entrance to wipe the mud off your footwear.

Working horseIn the days before bathrooms, commodes, toilet services, wash stands, and towel horses stood in bedrooms, every room had candlesticks and lamps, and there was an array of fire irons and coal boxes in the hearth. The dolly and tub in the kitchen or scullery were ready for wash day, and butter scales, muslin kettles and myriad other implements were on the shelves.

What is perhaps surprising is that the furniture sale raised a mere £116 9s 11d (just over £11,000 today), while farming stock, tools and implements made £739 14s 3d (about £70,000 today). The working horse called Sharper was valued at £23, while Diamond, Surly, Bowler, Kit, Traveller and Dragon raised only half this amount. Their names record the personal touch and highlight the poignancy of the family literally leaving home.

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