Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A bygone era of table jellies and servants

Erddig-Hall Back on Saint David's Day we headed over into north east Wales for a visit to the National Trust property Erddig near Wrexham. A grand 18th Century estate with beautiful gardens that I was keen to see but the weather changed its mind whilst we were on our way and turned into one of of heavy rain showers. After arriving we ran past the workshop area and into the main hall for shelter and took a look around the servants area which is downstairs - at the time, the rest of the house wasn't open.
Erddig-carpenters-workshop workshop   The scene is set for a historical day out and we are all sure to learn something along the way with rooms displayed as if you had stepped back into a bygone era of butlers polishing and guarding the silverware in the pantry. In fact the collection is huge here, with only 1/3 of the stately home's possessions on show at any time. Hoarders after my own heart.wine-bottles pantry pantry-note coats_ glasses in the butler's pantry Erddig is a special place and as we walked from room to room down dimly lit corridors (there is still no electricity in the house!) we learnt something rather intriguing about the residents of this upstairs downstairs country home. lamps daffodils in the window In the Servant's Hall there are oil paintings, not of the gentry though but of the servants themselves. This was a practise in many estates to paint a picture of a well trusted servant but here at Erddig it became a real tradition to celebrate the workers.  A wonderful collection of them, 10 oil paintings with poems and then in the corridors are photographs of those that served the house in centuries past. It is clear just how close the servants and masters were and the affection held by the family for their staff.

This is the portrait of a coachboy at Erddig.

Erddig-portrait Coach Boy ervant-bells
The servant bells and the Erddig prayer

by candlelight Housekeepers room Erddig
The Housekeeper's sitting room where she did her sewing and relaxed by the fireplace. Someof the rooms with soft furnishings are roped off to preserve them.window at Erddig The National Trust volunteers are very attentive and on hand to tell you interesting facts and stories. My favourite room was the beautifully bright kitchen with all its interesting items and pantry full of jars of jam and pickled vegetables. Light floods in through the Venetian window and catches the copper pots and pans hanging on the wall. I was so excited by all the vintage ephemera and the muted colours, especially the blue paint  used for the kitchen walls.Erddig kitchen A super cast iron range that has seen some cooking action over the years. Erddig kitchen stove kitchenalia rows of jars want-not writing in the Erddig kitchen
Erddig vignette
Erddig crockery
Erddig pudding bowls
 My kitchenalia interest has been renewed and I'd love shelves in my little kitchen to display pudding bowls and vintage boxes. I feel a crockery display coming on at home. Delicious table jellies were all the rage and I love the box from an old jam factory in a town not too far away from where we live.
Delicious table jellies
cream stove
A quick sample of Welsh Cakes in the Bakery and onto the Laundry Room.
wash house There are funny little bottles hung by the sides of the doors throughout the building and we found out that they are called Harden Star Grenades and were an early fire extinguisher. Pretty blue bottles with a star pressed into the glass but filled with toxic chemicals. If a fire broke out, they were to be thrown at the fire to smash and put the flames out. Star Grenade A picture of Queen Victoria made from sentences was outside the kitchen, such precise ink work.Queen VictoriaLeave a box of old hats on a bench and................. trying on old hats On the way out is a place to leave your memories of Erddig on a luggage tag. Next time I must have a read of some of them.

A perfect place for a home education visit and we will be utilising out NT membership and going to see the rest of the house later in spring. Fascinating to learn about the lives of the servants in such a personal way, to see their pictures on the walls and read of their personalities.


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