The Washerwoman

Sunday 25 August 2013

..Who lived in a house like this?

During our most recent trip to France we were fortunate enough to attend an auction. This was nothing like any auction that I have been to in the UK as this one took place in a small Château in the depths of the Normandy Countryside.
We arrived, shocked to find dozens of cars lining the surrounding lanes. After gingerly edging  into the hedgerow to park we set off with the crowds in the direction of the sale.

We all had to squeeze past parked vans in the narrow overgrown driveway before emerging into the garden. The house was nestled behind hydrangea bushes, most of the shutters were closed.

In front of the château a crowd had gathered, while a steady stream of people shuffled into the open front door. We joined the queue and were soon enveloped in the gloom, very few of the exterior shutters were open on the ground floor and there was no electricity, so most people were viewing the house contents with the aid of torches.
Having squinted our way around the ground floor rooms we set off up the rickety looking stairs. The first floor was easier to negotiate as more light was coming in through the thickly cobwebbed windows.

It was obvious that nothing had changed for many years. The interior was dilapidated and neglected. The painted panelling was rotten.

This bedroom was wallpapered with 20th century paper but with a patch of delicate blue and white floral paper from a much earlier date. They must have decorated around a piece of furniture for it to have survived so well. The curtains were mid 20th century floral and I hoped the auctioneer would include these in the sale.

Cupboards were full of dusty clothing, left undisturbed for decades. In one very dark bedroom there was a box of hats on the floor, I could see old lace and sequins glinting in the dusty gloom...

Along the corridor in total contrast was a room decorated with lurid Orange floral wallpaper and thickly applied orange paint. Shelves were littered with  old toys and ornaments.

The next challenge (apart from navigating the narrow corridors with the posse of locals who were obviously just there for a good old snoop) was to find the stairs to the attics. Sure enough a distressed panelled door revealed the tiny winding staircase to the top of the house.

The attic was strewn with discarded toys, chalky religious figures, dusty books and broken furniture. The windows were almost obscured with cobwebs.

A detail of the wonderful wallpaper in the attic and this pretty border.......

One of the windows, looking out onto the roof turrets.

 Religious figures waiting for a new home....

With slightly less people around me I was able to play with my camera and managed to snap a few black and white images....look away now if you don't like spiders! The window sill was covered with dead flies and spiders.

After exploring the attics, I was able to make my way into some of the other bedrooms on the first floor.

Most of the rooms were sparsely decorated with very little furniture, but fabulous floral fabric lined the walls... over mantel mirrors were speckled and very shabby.

There were 2 bathrooms on this floor, one decorated in hideous orange marble, circa 1980's, the other of a slightly earlier date comprising of a full-on palette of purple and pink!

Downstairs – the crowds had thinned out, so that we were able to make our way to the kitchen and scullery.  
Whoever lived in the house, based their catering in the tiny kitchen with 1970s décor.

 A drying area – complete with indoor washing line. As you can see with a rather funky late 1970's headscarf has been left to dry ....

Beautiful gilt lamp fitting in total contrast to the brown and orange decor in the kitchen

The atmospheric rambling, overgrown garden had some wonderful statues.

Lastly, we were able to explore the outbuildings. Most of them full of discarded furniture, and this fab skiing poster from the 1950's.

Hope you have enjoyed the "tour". In the next few weeks I will be listing French and English Vintage items for sale on my new blog here Hope to see you over there!

Monday 5 August 2013

An exciting new London Fair

 Good morning! This was my stand at the beautiful Decorative Country Living Fair earlier in the year which seems a good way to introduce a new fair run by Caroline and Hetty. This time they are taking their fair to London. The Decorative Living Fair is taking place at Chelsea Town Hall on Wednesday 18th September. Sadly I am unable to have a stand at the fair this time as I have a Dreweatts and Bloomsbury Auction in Bristol on the 26th of September which takes all my time and energy in the crucial 10 days before the sale.
I am able to offer 2 free tickets for this exciting new fair, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post and I will pull names out of the hat at the end of the month.

If you are too impatient to wait for the chance of winning free tickets, you can purchase them here