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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Sepia Saturday - Time for Tea

Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories through photographs.

Hats were an obvious choice for me with this week's prompt, but I had featured head ware  last year, so opted instead for the teatime theme.

An Edwardian picnic?

An unidentified postcard in the collection of the Heritage Hub, Hawick

I remember this copper kettle (below)  sitting in the hearth of my grandfather's house and was always led to believe  it was his mother's - my great grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe.   I was absolutely  delighted when it eventually passed down to me.

Complementing the kettle is this tea-set, which,  (according to her granddaughter), Maria acquired by collecting coupons from a newspaper offer. 

My great grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe (1859-1919) 
Pink seemed to be  the favoured colour for the "best" tea-set and I have pieces from both my grandmother Alice  and my mother's wedding china. 

The wedding china (above)  of my grandmother Alice Danson, nee English (1884-1945)

Wedding china of my mother Kathleen Weston, nee Danson

 My mother, Kathleen and Aunt Edith were both assiduous needlewomen and the tray cloth (below) is just one small example of their fine work.   How sad that the art seems to be dying.  I must admit I would be too afraid to use embroidered tablecloths and tray cloths,   fearing spills - and that would present another test of my laundering skills!  


A family group from the 1950's


Onto the 1950's.  This picture was taken by my aunt when we were at one of our favourite picnic stops.  One notable time, when we were heading off on holiday, Mum excelled herself by making a fruit tart and chicken pieces instead of the usual sandwiches and a banana - and left them all behind in the pantry (we did not have a  fridge then).  We had to stop somewhere and find a cafĂ© for lunch. My father got the blame here, as he was always chivvying us get a move on and get away, whereas my mother had to see to all the packing for us, plus  the food.   We returned home a week later to discover the chicken and fruit pie  covered in fur!
Looking back Mum and Dad were so formally dressed, especially my father in jacket, collar and tie.
Here we are a few years later and with a messier picnic in progress.  My father had adopted a more casual pose, but Mum is wearing a coat and I suspect it was not over warm and we were using the car as a shelter. But never mind - we are enjoying our picnic!
Click HERE to pop along to other bloggers tea-time stories.


  1. This struck a chord with me. It dredged up lots of memories, like the pair of vases which were my grandmother's wedding present to a daughter in the depression, bought with coupons from the top of the packets of tea. It made me think of the picnic areas with table and benches scattered along beside the roads but you hardly ever see them being used these days.

  2. I certain remember those lay-by picnics of the 1950s, with a blanket, a camping gas stove and plastic plates. As for your earlier pictures and thoughts - I wonder what has happened to all those best tea services, preserved down the generations by our ancestors, but now sold, given away, or packed away in the attic.

  3. I love the elegant formal picnic setting portrayed in your top photo. As for tablecloths, I have a collection handmade by my mother and by my husband's grandmother, but am basically too worried about stains to actually use them! Mum always took a picnic tablecloth along on our annual Boxing Day family picnics by the river outside Canberra, and the idea was to get there early enough to bag a table, but I remember that the constant struggle to bat the myriads of flies away from the food often spoiled our enjoyment of the day.

    1. Thank you, Jo, for you comment, also for signing up as a follower of my blog. I had to smile at the image of a Boxing Day picnic, until I read you lived in Australia where the weather would be so different from the UK.

  4. That last picture is reminiscent of so many I had both as a child and a parent. I don't remember my father dressed as formally as the middle picture though. Perhaps you were all on your way somewhere for a special occasion and stopped for a tea break.

  5. The image of "chicken and fruit pie covered in fur" was not a good one. I thought for a moment that the kettle was the one shown in your first image. Having some of the items that appear on old family photos would be very special.

  6. I can identify with Alan's comment - wondering what has happened to all those tea sets and services preserved through generations only to wind up sold or packed away in an attic. My mother-in-law passed a beautiful tea service belonging to her mother to me to pass on to one of our daughters, but neither wants it so it sits in my cedar chest. I'm hoping one of my granddaughters might want it some day, but I'm not holding my breath. Times change and it's really too bad.

  7. I have one beautiful cup saucer and tea plate from my great grandmother's set - all that was left. I think many of these old sets are broken due to shaky old hands using them. And use them we should!
    And yes, Boxing Day picnics in Australia are great - and a fun way to get rid of left overs too.

  8. I've always loved the older photos which show how formally the men used to dress.

  9. I'd be a coupon fanatic if I could get beautiful dishes like those with coupons!

    Still laughing over the fur-covered chicken and tart. That could easily have been my family!

  10. That copper kettle is just lovely -- what a great piece of family history you have!

  11. My parents and another couple had a tradition of Veteran's Day (November 11) picnics. It was always so cold we had to wear winter coats then.

  12. This form of picnic passed me by as we never had a car at home. So the first picnics for me would be with our children in the 1960s - not a single picnic picture to show.
    Your fine collection of teas sets reminded me that ours like that never seem to see the light of day.

  13. Like Bob, we never had a car until I was 15 or so, but my parents made up for it by taking us on a weekend excursion every weekend - either mushrooming or blackberrying. And my father had to have the biggest, grandest car he could afford - a Humber Super Snipe. And he was a shocking driver!! Those excursions were murder!!!

  14. The china tea sets are so precious with the history that is attached to them. Great old picnic photos. It is funny how people got dressed up for outings in those days.

  15. Ahh, how picnic have changed. In my great grandmother's time, the white table cloth and the china would come outside for a picnic. Your pics really showed the change in times. Very nice job.

  16. You have reminded me of linen that my grandmother had made. Another job to add to my "to do" list. I must get it out and photograph it.

    Crochet jug covers with beads, crochet with linen, embroidery similar to yours above and then in later years hobbytex tablecloths.

    A very enjoyable post.

  17. Truly delightful post, and my favorite, well they are all wonderful, but there's something about those sitting along side the family car that capture my attention every time!

  18. The first photo is just wonderful! I love the formality of the occasion -- there's even a rug under the table! -- which is completely at odds with the outdoor setting.

    The needlework is equally fabulous. It is indeed a lost art, which makes those family mementos that much more personal and valuable. I can also relate to the story of your great grandmother's china and how she acquired it. in the 1930s, my grandmother purchased her entire service over the course of many, many months at the grocery, a piece or two each week as it was offered. Unfortunately, when she passed away, the entire service was sold to an antiques dealer for a pittance. How I wish it had remained in the family.
    Thanks for sharing!!

  19. It's been a fun weekend to see how everyone defines a picnic. But today's lay-bys are not what I would call attractive places for a quiet cup of tea.

  20. Thank you to everyone for such heartening comments. It was good to feel I struck a chord with so many memories.

  21. Beautiful photos of beautiful people. Simple times like this are wonderful and we really should do more of this... Drive-throughs just aren't as much fun. I think I will purchase me a nice basket and thermos and blanket and remember this in the fall! I am with you on the embroidery.. I have a few pieces that I inherited and would never truly use them as tablecloths.


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