Vintage China

March Posy

March Posy Small-14

For this month’s Posy I wanted to create an image that represented the start of Spring and Easter.

March’s flowers in our garden have been a beautiful Spring colour palette of yellow, violet and fresh Spring Greens.

Spring Hues


I have chosen to grow a lot of native wild flowers. This month we have had a good show of native primroses – primula vulgaris. These are a beautiful pale cream yellow. Primroses always symbolise to me that Spring is on it’s way. My Uncle picked a small bunch of primroses from the woods for my mum when she was born in March. Now whenever I see primroses I think of mum!

Church House, Pitton near Salisbury


Primrose Hues

March Small-39

I have another variety of primrose in bloom in the garden called `Emily’ which is a slightly darker yellow colour. There are also creamy primula flowers.

Primula vulgaris



As a child I dreamt of creamy yellow primroses in a posy as a wedding bouquet.  I am a very romantic soul!  I imagined myself picking woodland flowers and flouncing about in a Jane Austin inspired Regency Wedding dress. I hadn’t even read any Jane Austin aged 8! When we walked in Grovelly Woods to see the primroses as a child I remember a derelict cottage I dreamt of renovating and restoring. That’s where I would have flounced off to the church in my Empire Line Dress with my Spring bouquet of primroses and violets!

I did enjoy the grounds of The Baytree Hotel in my Empire Line Dress on my wedding day. In reality primroses were too small for my bouquet so I opted for yellow roses instead. The idea of something picked straight out of the garden arranged in an informal way stayed with me. I opted for informal jugs of Spring flowers on the tables including Spring Green Viburnum opulus and yellow Forsithia.

Spring Sunshine Bouquet
P&D (055)
Just Picked

Our March garden has also had a good display of vibrant yellow daffodils with dainty, minature Tete-a-Tete being my favourite.

Tete a Tete

The other flowers in bloom have been violet, mauve and blue in colour. We have clumps of the native woodland violet. The front garden has a beautiful carpet of Anemone blanda in shades of violet-blue and white and in the back we have purple crocus blooms and blue muscari.

Anemone blanda
Anemone blanda
Purple Crocus
Drayton Blooms

Anemone blanda

Purple Crocus

March Primula
March Primula

I’m also rather proud of my pink ranunculus flower. However this bloom was too precious to cut for my Posy of the month project.


March Posy

March PosyMarch Posy Small-14

The vintage buttercup design fluted cup and saucer was manufactured by Henry M Williamson & Sons, based at the Bridge Pottery Works, Heathcote Road in Longton, Stoke on Trent. Williamson traded from 1879 – 1947. The name was changed to Heathcote China in 1928. H M Williamson & Sons

March PosyEaster Biscuits

I  enjoyed making Easter biscuits to photograph my Easter posy and they seemed to be enjoyed by my running club after a recent cross country run.

Spiced Easter Biscuits

Originating from the West Country, these lightly spiced biscuits were traditionally given as a gift on Easter Day. My mum always used to make them at Easter time.

300g plain flour

50g icing sugar

1 tsp mixed spice

175g cold butter, diced

1 medium egg, beaten with 1 tbsp cold water

125g currants

1 egg white

Caster sugar for dredging

Mix the flour, icing sugar, spice and butter together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Gradually add the beaten egg until the mixture clumps together.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead in the currants. Flatten the dough into a disc and wrap in clingfilm. Chill for 30 minutes until it is firm.

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan oven), gas mark 4.

LIghtly flour the worksurface again and roll out the dough until it is 4mm thick. Stamp out circles with a 6 – 7 cm fluted citter and arrange spaced apart on lightly greased baking sheets.

Whisk the egg whit e until frothy and brush over the biscuits. Sprinkle with the caster sugar.

Bake for 12 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on a wired rack.

They will keep for up to a week in an airtight tin.

March Posy

Easter Posy

For some reason primroses are the blooms I think of when I think of an Easter Posy. I always remember being read the Alison Uttley stories as a child and have never forgotten the second tale in which sensible Little Grey Rabbit makes primrose wine to cure Hare’s cold.

Little Grey Rabbit

March Posy

A Cup of Primroses

I tried another Spring arrangement of primroses in my H & R Daniel Etruscan shape teacup and saucer for a completely different effect. I thought the creamy primroses went well with the gilt details and the navy and lemon pattern. (Pattern 3860). Henry and Richard Daniel were manufacturers of high-grade decorative porcelain and earthenwares at Stoke and Shelton from c.1822-46. All Daniel porcelains are of very fine quality but are seldom stamped with a maker’s mark.

March would not be complete without an arrangement of cheerful Spring daffodils.

March Flower Arrangement

Do let me know which is your favourite – zingy yellow daffodils or softer creamy primroses?  I can’t decide!


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Vintage Weddings – 1930s


Marriage of George Mason Hills and Betty Berry 1937

George Mason Hills and Betty Edna Berry – 26 June 1937

My Grandma, Betty Edna Berry, was born in Clapton in 1914 and lived with her parents Henry and Ethel Berry at 28 Elmcroft Street, Clapton, London.

Elmcroft Street

My Grandfather George Mason Hills was born in Sheffield, son of George and Mary and brother to William and Ina.  The Hills family were adventurous hill walkers and loved mountaineering.

Derbyshire - 1930s

So how did a London lass meet a lad from `up North’ in the 1930s? At that time Betty’s Aunt Kate was seriously ill, suffering from renal tuberculosis. At the beginning of the 20th century, tuberculosis was one of the UK’s most urgent health problems.  Betty’s mother Ethel was looking after her sister in 1934 and Betty was shipped off out of the way. Kate died of `consumption’ in June 1936.

Kate Spice


As it was Christmas Betty went to stay with her Aunt Nell, Uncle Stuart and cousin Tom Turner in Sheffield. The Turners were friends of the Hills family and so they came to visit a lot that Christmas. Betty was introduced to George when Tom invited some of his former school friends to meet his cousin from London. George Hills was working for the Medical Research Council in London, but was visiting his parents in Sheffield for Christmas.

As George was also living in London, Betty and George travelled back together on the train from Sheffield. George lived in digs fairly nearby in Lordship Road, Stoke Newington, lodging with Miss Prickett. He made it clear he would like to see Betty again and the rest is history…

Engagement – Summer 1935 

1930s -4

George asked Betty if she would consider marriage in the coastal village of Beer in Devon as the Berry family were on holiday there. This was a favourite family holiday destination where they stayed in a Boarding house in the village. On a previous occasion Ralph, a local fisherman, had asked my Gran to go for a moonlight fishing trip after the village dance. The family felt he had other things on his mind other than fishing and the outing was declined!

Beer Beach, Devon with Betty wearing a very fashionable swimming costume

George come down on the train from London to see Betty for the day. I have the love letter George wrote to my Gran the morning he got back:-

`49 Lordship Road, London, N16. 15:vii:35

Most darling Precious, I want to tell you all about the most marvellous journey back which I had; I never felt as happy in my life before. I not only felt as happy, as when on a country bicycle ride on a frosty, but bright sunny morning or as when seeing the sunrise during an Alpine climb, but I also felt as if I should like every-one else to feel equally happy. I felt genuinely sorry for every-one less well of than myself, who can’t even afford a cheap excursion to Beer.

Very early in the journey I got the idea that there would only have to be a suspicion of an answer `Yes’ from you and I would come over to Beer and marry you by special licence to-morrow if it could be done that quick. When I got back, after first kissing your photo-graph and then lighting the gas, I found my diary and looked up the cost of the licence and was gratified to find it was only £5.  Through out the journey I continued to develop the idea. As there would be no engagement, there would be no engagement ring. Perhaps you wouldn’t like that, but with the money saved you could have a radio-gramophone. An engagement ring may make you want to dance, but you can’t get any dance-music out of it. We should have to give up the idea of a honeymoon in the Italian Alps and perhaps `our bungalow’. We shouldn’t be able to live on a fabulously lavish scale on my £250 a year. After deciding all this I suddenly realised that as you are not yet a lady your dad should have to say `Yes’ too, do you think he would? One thing is certain that if you really do want a bungalow, I don’t think I will have saved enough pennies for us to get engaged in September; because Toots, once I am engaged to you, I shall feel it impossible for us to remain unmarried for more than six months. After so much good-will I am sure it goes without saying that I hope your party at Beer have a marvellous time with marvellous weather. How can you be so good to me, Tootsy?

Yours, darling, for ever and ever, Georgie’  


1930s -6

In the 1930s the Legal Age of Consent was 21 and 16 with parental permission. Betty was still 20 in June 1935 so they either needed to gain parental consent or wait till Betty’s birthday in the September. They were officially engaged on 1st August so permission must have been given! I am unaware as to whether my Gran did have an official engagement ring in the end. I did find these opal rings among her possessions and she was always fond of opals.

18 ct Opal ringOpal Ring


Shared Interests

George was a country boy who loved the outdoors, hiking and alpine mountaineering. Betty was a London lass who enjoyed parties and dancing. They took up each others hobbies! As George got to know Betty he shared his love of walking with her and they even went to the Lake District for a holiday before they got married. My Gran assured me that it was all above board and they shared hostel accomodation with another couple in single sex dorms!

1930s -51930's Hiking Outfits

1930s -7

Soon after they married they got a dog called Chum. George and Betty did a lot of walking from their home in Chelsfield, Kent. They also bought a tandem and travelled all over the place including an adventure to the Italian Lakes by train as a belated honeymoon.

1938 Walking with Chum


When George met Betty he hadn’t been into ballroom dancing. However, as Betty loved dancing so much, George took up dancing lessons near his digs in Lordship Road so they could go dancing together. They obviously got quite good as they won the Slow Foxtrot at a competition when they were living in Chelsfield, Kent after they were married.

I can see I have inherited a love of the outdoors and a love of dancing!


Marriage of George Mason Hills and Betty Edna Berry – 26 June 1937

1930's Wedding

1930s Wedding-7George and Betty married at Clapton Park Congregational Chapel on Lower Clapton Road. The Round Chapel was built in 1869-71 as a non-conformist, congregational church. It is now an arts centre and is considered to be one of the finest non-conformist buildings in London.

1930s Wedding-34img180

After the ceremony catering was provided for 33 guests at a local Hired Hall.

1930s Wedding-2

Catering Bill 1937


We invited 38 guests for our Wedding breakfast so the numbers were similar with close friends and family invited.

Wedding of George Mason Hills and Betty Berry 26 June 1937


My Gran chose George’s sister Ina and her best friend Christine Hyde as bridesmaids. The Hydes were friends of the Berry family. The best man was George’s brother William.

1930s  Fashion 

History of Fashion

The 1920s had seen shorter dresses with brides showing an ankle. The wedding dress became increasingly shorter as the decade went on. In the 1930s the wedding dress became more slender and elegant. The fabric was cut on the cross so that the material fell into graceful folds and could be rather figure hugging. Silk elbow-length evening gloves were worn with a bracelet or watch on top of the gloves.  Betty was a bridesmaid for her cousin Kath Spice in 1933 where the outfits were typical of the early 1930s. Kath opted to wear a hat rather than a veil. Cloche hats were typical of the late twenties/early thirties. The Cloche was a fitted, bell-shaped hat for women that was invented in 1908 by milliner Caroline Reboux and was especially popular from about 1922 to 1933. Its name is derived from cloche, the French word for “bell”. My Gran is wearing gauntlet style gloves with decorative flowing cuffs and seems to be holding a clutch bag rather than a bouquet.

Kath Spice's Wedding 1933

1930's FashionSpringtime Brides 1933 - Weldon's Ladies JournalWedding fabrics were chiffon, silk, crepe-de-chine and satin cut on the bias. The formal 1930s bridal gown was floor length, and had an elaborate, long train. Chantilly lace trimmed the edges of the floor length veils that were anchored to the head with a juliet cap. Long opera length gloves completed the look of a sleeveless or butterfly sleeved bodice.

1930s Holleywood Glamour

Marriage of George Mason Hills and Betty Berry 1937

Betty chose a white wedding dress which which was more classic than the contemporary style she wore as a bridesmaid.  Wedding gowns often reflect the latest fashions of an era and can be time-dated by their silhouettes, sleeve styles etc. However some brides of the 19th and 20th centuries chose to wear their mother’s or grandmother’s wedding dress or veil. This can be misleading when dating photographs. Maybe my Gran decided the figure-hugging styles of the 1930s were a bit tarty for a bride! I can’t decide if my Gran is wearing a new dress and veil or decided to wear her mum’s. I do know my mum’s wedding dress, which she made herself, was saved for my wedding day. However I couldn’t get into it as the dress was 2 sizes too small for me!  The bridesmaids have fuller skirts than the latest fashion, but they are sporting cap sleeves. Betty is wearing a fashionable short finger waved hairstyle.

Early 30's Hair StylesHelen D'Algy

1930s Wedding

In my Grandparents wedding photos the guests are wearing typical 1930s Day Dresses.The most dramatic difference between the fashion of the thirties and the previous decade was the emphasis on a slim waist. The 1920s had seen a flat `boyish’ loose shape with a dropped waist. 1930s fashion saw a slender fitted style with a high natural waist accented with a belt. The belt often matched the dress using the same floral or patterned fabric. Fashion was to create interest at the top of the garment and accentuate the waist. This included caplet sleeves, puffed sleeves, and angular shoulders which, in turn, would give the illusion of a smaller waist. Femininity and pretty details were a key feature of 1930s fashion. I think I was born in the wrong era! Necklines and collars were always high with no cleavage on show. Hemlines went back down after the almost knee baring 1920s to mid calf for Day Dresses.

1937 Day Dresses1937 Fashion


1930s Wedding Flowers

Money was scarce during the Great depression of the 1930s. Unless a bride came from wealth, flowers tended to be locally grown and readily available. Several styles of bouquet were popular in the 1930s and were designed to complement the dress.

Arm Bouquet This style was designed to be held in the bride’s arms and looked sleek and elegant against the slim line dress styles of the 1930s. Long stemmed flowers were used which included calla lilies, gladiolus, delphiniums and long stemmed roses. Ribbons were sometimes woven into the design.

Vintage Sewing Pattern - 1934 Vobach 71306


The Nosegay or Tussie-Mussie. This style of bouquet has been around since Elizabethan times and was still popular in the 1930s. The nosegay was a small round shaped bouquet of closely filled flowers. Generally two or three flowers were the central feature surrounded by fragrant herbs and greenery. The flowers were usually roses, tulips or carnations. The Nosegay was originally intended to be put to the nose to mask unpleasant odours when bathing was not so frequent. Sage, mint, thyme and rosemary were often included as fragrant herbs.The posy was styled within a cone-shaped vessel of metal or glass known as a tussie-mussie. Ribbons were used to accent the flowers and the bouquet was often wrapped in a lace doiley. The Victorians turned the tussie-mussie into an art form giving each flower and herb a symbolic meaning.

1930s Nosegay Bouquet


The Cascade or Shower Bouquet. This was the style Betty chose for her wedding flowers. The bouquet is round at the top near the bride’s hands and spills over in a cascade of foliage ribbons and flowers. Choice of flowers was limited in the 1930s – carnations, roses, lilies and plenty of Maiden-hair and Asparagus fern. I am fascinated by the bouquets in my Gran’s wedding photos. The two bridesmaids have huge bouquets packed full of garden roses and trailing fern. They are also carrying Dorothy bags which are likely to contain confetti. My Gran on the other hand has a smaller, more sparse bouquet of carnations. I really can’t understand why! I prefer the abundant rose bouquets. Perhaps carnations were more highly prized and my Gran was fond of the fragrance?! There were also carnation button holes for the men in the bridal party.

1930's Wedding


Wedding Present List 1937  

1930s Wedding Present List (1)1930s Wedding Present List (2)

I was delighted to find my Gran’s Wedding Present List tucked amongst her wedding photos. What a wonderful piece of social history! There are so many similarities between my Gran’s Wedding Gifts, my mum’s and mine. We all had a dinner service, casseroles, flower vases and bath towels.   I either still have many of the items on the list or remember them. The list shows that amongst the wedding party guests were family, work colleagues and friends. Uncle George gave his niece towels as he worked as a Sales Rep for Christie’s towels. There are many more ornate items of cutlery and serving dishes than we received or would dream of using.

Aunt Nell and Uncle Stew gave giant fish servers made in Sheffield, which was appropriate as they lived in Sheffield. Uncle Stew had been an assistant steel overseer for the admirality.

1930s Walker & Hall Fish Servers1930s Fish Knives and Forks

Other cutlery items included egg spoons and pastry knives and forks. Apparently an egg spoon is a specialised spoon for use in eating boiled eggs. In comparison to a teaspoon it typically has a shorter handle and bowl, a more pointed tip and often a more rounded bowl. The pastry knives and forks given by Horace Laithwaite, a colleague of George, came in wonderful crocodile or snake skin presentation cases.

1930s Pastry knives and forks1930s Reliance Plate Pastry Knives

There was a lot of cut glass amongst the wedding presents. I remember having biscuits out of the Cut Glass Biscuit Barrel when I came home from school. The Cut Glass Cruet, a gift from Aunt Blanche and Uncle Arthur Mason, was always brought out for Christmas and Birthdays. Unfortunately the vinegar bottle was broken so I decided not to keep it. However it looked very like this set:-

Cut glass cruet

Glassware also included grapefruit dishes, vases and a cake stand.  Christmas cakes, Easter cakes and birthday cakes were always presented on the Cut Glass Cake Stand.

Cut Glass Cake Stand


Betty’s Grafton China tea-set was a present from her bridesmaid Christine and her mother.  All we have left now is a bread and butter plate and this bowl. The Grafton China marking is from the period 1935-1949.

1930s Grafton China Tea-setGrafton China

Whilst I was clearing my Uncle’s house I found this lovely Amber Cloud Glass Flower Bowl Set which was given by Ethel Marsh. Unfortunately I threw the plinth out as I didn’t realise it belonged to the flower bowl! Cloud glass is a form of pressed art glass, created by applying streaks of dark coloured glass to paler glass, which creates a random swirled, “clouded” pattern. The cloud glass technique was invented by George Davidson & Co in 1923.  The Pattern number is 1910SD, 6.75 inches diameter.

George Davidson Amber Cloud Glass (1910SD)George Davidson Amber Cloud GlassGeorge Davidson CatalogueGeorge Davidson Glass Catalogue1931

Ethel Marsh was a colleague of Betty at the Liverpool Victoria Insurance offices. The stories my Gran recounted about the Liverpool Vic are more to do with the social side than actual work! Betty made many good friends whilst working there, many of whom came to her wedding. In the 1930s a married woman was not expected to work. When Betty got married she was expected to give up her job. During the Second World War women were needed to work whilst the men were away at war. After the war it was more socially acceptable for married women to go out to work. My Gran recounted going on trips away with the Liverpool Vic to Brighton. The offices would be closed and they would all go off to the seaside in a charrabanc. I have pictures of the girls on the beach. Winnie Holland seemed to be a bit of a goer and is showing her knickers whilst paddling!

Liverpool Victoria Office Outing1930s -3Liverpool Victoria Office Outing

Winnie came to the wedding along with Mary Gallimore, Ethel Marsh and Gladys Kingdon.  The Womens Record Department gave a dinner service, electric clock and meat carvers.

Meat Carver


Other intriguing gifts were a Turkish Cigarette Box and Ashtray from Fred Dainton.  I couldn’t think of anything I’d want less for a wedding present. However my Gran was partial to smoking a Turkish cigarette! Although not on the list my Gran was very fond of her Honeybee which seems to date from a similar period.

1930s Wedding-20Betty’s Aunt Jennie and Lou gave her a LLoyd Loom Linen Basket, which was passed on to my mum in later years.  LLoyd Loom is the name given to a woven fabric and furniture that was invented by Marshall Burns Lloyd nearly 100 years ago. Lloyd Loom weave is made from twisted paper and wire and the frames are traditionally made from steam-bent beech wood. The furniture is renowned for its longevity and durability.  It inspired a generation of furniture designers in the 1920’s and 30’s, associated with the art-deco period and the classic ocean-going liners of the time. It became immensely popular in the UK before the London factory was destroyed in the war, spelling an end to large scale production.

LLoyd Loom 1930's Furniture

LLoyd Loom Quadrant Linen Basket

Aunt Lou and Jennie were unable to come up from Brixham in Devon for the wedding, but were very fond of their youngest niece.

Aunt Jennie and Lou Berry

The two maiden Aunts sent a Wedding  Congratulation Postcard.  


Wedding Postcard - Aunt JennieWedding Postcard - Aunt Jennie


Wedding Cards, Telegrams and Postcards 

1930s Wedding Telegram

1930s Wedding Telegram1930s Wedding Postcard1930s Wedding Card


After the wedding celebrations Betty and George spent a wet, rainy week in the Lake District on Honeymoon. A year later they finally made it to the Italian Lakes on their tandem for a belated honeymoon. Another Epic Blog Post in the making…!

1930s Honeymoon
1930s Honeymoon

1930s HoneymoonLake District Honeymoon1930s Honeymoon



I hope you have enjoyed my Grandparents’ 1930s wedding. I certainly cherish these wonderful photos and keepsakes!


Wedding of George Mason Hills and Betty Berry 26 June 1937


Vintage Weddings – Edwardian Era (1901-1914)

Edwardian Wedding IllustrationMr Smiles and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary this month. We have a tradition of staying the night back at the Baytree Hotel where we got married. We take our wedding photo album with us and fondly look back on a wonderful day. I am a sentimental soul and love social history so I have been researching the wedding days of my direct ancestors. I am starting with my great Grandparents’ wedding in the late Edwardian Period. Watch out for other Blog posts from other Eras!

Ethel Spice and Henry Berry – 7 June 1913  

Henry Berry

Ethel Berry 1914Ethel and Henry were my Great Grandparents. Ethel Spice was born in the rural village of Bapchild, Kent in 1884.  Her father George Spice was a gardener at Hempstead House and together with her mother Maria they lived in one of the cottages near Hempstead House.  The family moved to Lower Clapton, Hackney in the 1890s. I presume they moved to Hackney as George found new work with the florist and garden contractor Owen C. Greenwood of 27 Upper Clapton Road, Hackney, London. It is likely that George started work at the Pond Lane nursery on Millfields Road.

Hempstead Cottages 2
Hempstead Cottages
Hempstead House
Hempstead House

Henry Berry was born in the Lea Bridge area of Hackney in 1884. His father Walter Harris Berry had been a ropemaker in Brixham, Devon. Walter had married Henry’s mother Louisa Rundle in Devonport, Devon.  In the late 1860’s Walter and Louisa moved to Hackney. Again it is likely that Walter came to London to take up a job as an engine driver for the East London Water Board. Henry was brought up by his father and older sisters as his mother died of breast cancer when he was 12 years old.

Ethel and Henry were married on the 7 June 1913 at St James the Great Church, Lower Clapton. The church is still there in the heart of Clapton today, although now surrounded by tower blocks. Henry BERRY and Ethel SPICE Marriage Certificate 1913

I don’t have photos of their wedding so I have had to do a bit of detective work about their wedding day.  St James the Great, Lower Clapton

Both Ethel and Henry were living in Lower Clapton at the time of their marriage. Henry was living in Millfields Road and Ethel had been living in Rushmore Road and then High Road. Clapton has been completely transformed over the last century. The 1913 Ordnance Survey Map shows that Millfields Road had been built on the extensive open fields of the Millfields Recreation Ground. The last vestiges of the area’s agricultural past were vanishing and making way for Edwardian suburbs. However Booth’s Poverty map of 1898 shows that the areas that Henry and Ethel were living in had a comfortable standard of living and some were classed as middle class and well to do.

Lower Clapton 2000Charles Booth Poverty Map 1898 Colour CodeCharles Booth Poverty Map 1898









Edwardian Wedding Transport

What I do know is Ethel arrived for her wedding ceremony in a hired `Brougham and Pair‘ as I have the original receipt. In today’s terms the transport cost would have been about £135. This was actually similar to my Wedding Car cost! Brougham & Pair Receipt 1913A brougham is a closed four-wheeled carriage with an open driver’s seat in front. Ethel’s carriage was pulled by a pair of horses. This is an example of the kind of wedding transport Ethel’s father George paid for.  

Brougham & PairBrougham CarriageLower Clapton Road 1910This old postcard shows the Lower Clapton Road in 1910. It’s interesting that there are quite a few horse-drawn carriages on the road. The view includes St James the Great Church on the left and Clapton Pond is on the right.

Lower Clapton Pond
Lower Clapton Pond

I don’t have details of the guests at the wedding, but I imagine it was a fairly large family affair as Henry had 9 siblings and Ethel had a brother and 3 sisters. In later years they were known for large family outings to the coast and pic-nics in Epping Forest. Ethel’s friend Beatrice Hungate was bridesmaid and a witness at the wedding. Beatrice lived fairly close by in Stoke Newington and in the 1911 cenus is listed as working in shirt manufacturing. Ethel is listed as a shirt finisher in 1901 and a shirt examiner in 1911. I am surmising that Ethel met Beatrice at work in the shirt manufacturing business and became close friends. Christopher Howland is listed as a Shirt Manufacturer in 1913 on the Lower Clapton Road next to the Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb.

Edwardian Engagement Ring

I am the proud owner of my Great Grandma Ethel Spice’s engagement ring which I cherish and wear regularly. My grandma gave me her ring for my 18th birthday. Here is a portion of a photo taken with Ethel wearing her ring in 1915.

Ethel Spice Engagement Ring

Ethel Spice Engagement Ring 1911-1912Ethel Spice Engagement Ring 1911-1912Henry Williamson Ltd - Gold HallmarkThe Chester hallmarks show the 18 carat gold engagement ring was manufactured by Henry Williamson Ltd between 1911-1912.

Ethel’s beautiful ring is a 5 stone diamond claw set half hoop ring. I am not an expert on antique jewellery. However from what I have read the half hoop ring in which half the circumference of the piece is set with stone is typical of the Victorian period. Running from 1901 to about 1920, the Edwardian era is perhaps best known for extensive use of filigree techniques.  Scrollwork in the mountings became popular. Ethel’s engagement ring seems therefore to be a typical design of the Early Edwardian period. Victorian in style with fancy Edwardian scrollwork. I do enjoy wearing Ethel’s ring as it connects me with my family history! 

Chester Date Letters
Chester Date Letters

 Wedding Fashion 

I have no photographs of Ethel’s wedding dress. In the 19th century not all wedding gowns were white. Because many brides could not afford to invest in an impractical dress that could only be worn once, a dress in a pleasing colour was chosen which would then become a new `best dress’. Brides adapted their bridal wear by adding floral springs to their hair, especially orange blossoms. The White wedding dress and orange blossoms were popularized when Queen Victoria  married Prince Albert in 1840.  Wedding gowns reflected the latest fashions of the era. Wedding Photos give a clue to the date by the silhouette, sleeve style, neck line etc. However many brides of the 19th and 20th centuries chose to wear their mother’s wedding gown so this can get confusing when dating old photographs! Vintage Wedding gowns tend to be four or five years behind the latest fashion.

Queen Victoria's White Wedding Dress
Queen Victoria’s White Wedding Dress

Throughout the Edwardian Period there were a lot of changes in women’s wear. Early 1900s styles were dramatically different from their 1919 counterparts.  A Bride of the 1900s era may have been a vision in lace in an Edwardian style. She would have a corseted bodice and romantic ruffles, a tiny waist encircled with a satin ribbon above a lavish skirt, perhaps carrying a parasol as an accent. This era also offers brides a Gibson Girl look for hairstyles, soft and upswept. 

Gibson Girl
Gibson Girl Hairstyle




Ethel 1902

The Gibson Girl began appearing in the 1890s and was the feminine ideal of beauty portrayed by the satirical pen-and-ink illustrations of illustrator Charles Dana Gibson during a 20-year period that spanned the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the United States. The artist saw his creation as representing the composite of “thousands of American girls.” 

A mid-decade bride would wear “cutting edge” fashions of the day from Paris, a neo-Empire style. Late decade styles simplified dresses and brought about a slimmer silhouette, with less fabric in the skirts, foreshadowing the changes yet to be seen in the 1920s. Do check out my board on Pinterest `The History of Wedding Fashion’ where I have gathered lots of images from different decades including the Edwardian Era.  

Wedding Dress 1900

Edwardian Wedding

Wedding Flowers

Flowers and wreaths were worn at weddings as far back as the ancient Greeks. They believed that the floral scents would ward off evil spirits. The practice of wearing flowers continued throughout history with the belief of safety from spirits as well as repelling infectious diseases. Usually these bouquets were made from very pungent herbs, spices and even garlic!  Another reason that brides carried bouquets was born out of the ‘necessity’ of covering odor, trying to smell pretty on their special day. In the 1600′s and for a very long time afterwards, people bathed extremely infrequently. According to the Huffington Post, during the 15th century, people took their yearly baths in May and would generally get married in June. Just to be safe, brides carried bouquets to mask the smell of body odor.  In ancient times, a bride was considered especially lucky on her wedding day.  So guests tore off parts of her dress to obtain a good luck talisman for themselves!  Not all brides cared for this activity, as it wasn’t very pleasant to have your clothing ripped bit by bit, compliments of the guests.  So it evolved, that the bride outsmarted her guests by giving an offering of herself; enabling a guest to obtain a lucky talisman and allowing herself to keep her clothing intact: she starting throwing her garter and bouquet in lieu of pieces of her dress.

I am sure that Ethel would have carried a Bridal Bouquet. Bouquets of the Edwardian Era were large and trailing. They often had yard long trailing greenery of maidenhair fernMaidenhair FernEdwardian bouquets were traditionally wired posies with a small collection of flowers. The maidenhair fern usually acted as the filler foliage. To echo this in your bouquet use traditional English Garden favourites, Roses, Spray Roses, Sweet Williams, Carnations and Gypsophila… Ethel’s dad George Spice was a gardener and worked in the market gardening and floristry trade. My Grandma remembered the Greenwood’s florist shop in Upper Clapton Road where she used to visit her Grandad George at work. It was a large shop with an enormous fountain in the middle which she thought was amazing.

Owen C. Greenwood


I can imagine that Greenwoods did Ethel proud supplying the flowers for her wedding in 1913. This picture from Lovedaylemon on Flickr gives an idea as to what the flowers would have looked like in Edwardian England. Apart from the bride’s bouquet Edwardian ladies often wore elaborate corsages. A corsage originally referred to the bodice of a woman’s dress. Since a bouquet of flowers was often worn in the center of the bodice, the flowers took on the name “corsage.” Our modern sense of the corsage comes from the French “bouquet de corsage,” meaning “a bouquet of the bodice.” Corsages are made from a small bunch of flowers or a single bloom. The corsage was originally worn at the waist or the bodice of a dress. Later, it became common to pin flowers to the shoulder or on a handbag. Although the placement of the flowers might have changed, the name stuck and is still used to refer to any small bouquet of flowers worn on the body. In weddings a corsage identifies members of the wedding party. The mothers’ and grandmothers’ corsages are usually different and more elaborate amongst the guests at the wedding party. 

In this Edwardian image the ladies have elaborate corsages pinned to the front of their dresses.

Edwardian Wedding Group

George Spice always took pride in his appearance and even when retired wore a flower in his buttonhole. I am sure he looked very dapper at his daughter’s wedding. 












Wedding Gifts 

Edwardian Society expected all guests to provide a wedding present. If the engagement was not going to be long, guests sent presents as soon as the engagement was announced. The bride’s family then exhibited the gifts the day before the wedding at an afternoon tea. They displayed the gifts on linen or velvet-covered tables, choosing dark cloth for silver plate. People of “aristocratic tastes” surrounded the presents with flowers, especially roses. Every present bore the giver’s card and name so present giving could become quite competitive. These days wrapped presents tend to be displayed on a table at the wedding.

I love the conversation between Violet, The Dowager Countess and Lady Edith Crawley in Downton Abbey where Lady Edith is arranging the Wedding Presents for her elder sister Mary:-

The Dowager Countess : ` Your turn will come.’

Lady Edith:  `Am I to be the maiden aunt? Isn’t this what they do? Arrange presents for their prettier relations?’

The Dowager Countess: `Don’t be defeatist dear, it’s terribly middle class.’

I have to make a guess at the presents Ethel and Henry would have received. Not as grand and expensive as Lady Mary! However Ethel’s brother-in- law George Read worked for a towel manufacturer in 1911. It is highly likely therefore that they received towels from Ethel’s sister Kate and her husband George. My grandma received towels from George as a wedding gift in 1936. At this time George was working for Christy, the towel manufacturing business. Christy Ltd is a long-established manufacturer of household linens and is known as the inventor of the first industrially produced looped cotton towel. 

Christie's Towels 1920s

 What I do know is that Ethel had a very lovely tea set which was still in use when I was growing up. All that remains now is a beautiful jug which I treasure.

Radfordian Jug

Ethel’s tea-set was made by Samuel Radford Ltd.The jug can be dated to around 1913 from the Maker’s Mark printed on the bottom.  Samuel Radford China Makers Mark 1913I therefore presume the tea-set was a wedding gift. The jug is made of a beautiful white porcelain with pretty pink roses and pale sage green swag decoration. The handle was edged in gold but has been care worn over the last 100 years. I’m sure if Ethel’s jug could tell her history it would be a fascinating story. What I find interesting is that the design is called `Milton’. Bapchild, where Ethel grew up, was in the district of Milton, Kent. I am guessing that a family member such as her Aunt Eliza, gave this gift to Ethel with fond memories of Ethel’s childhood in Bapchild.

I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts on Weddings from the Edwardian Era based round my Great Grandparents Wedding. Look out for my Grandparents 1930s wedding next!


Rich Colours of Autumn

Autumnal Harvest


Autumn is in the words of John Keats truly `the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.’ I love the rich colours of Autumn –  deep red rosy apples and berries, vibrant orange pumpkins and squashes and not forgetting sunny yellow sunflowers. I had fun making this Autumnal still-life. The Daisy Chain Purse Vase is an Anita Harris design and was a wonderful wedding gift. I love it’s rich deep red lustre with the gold embellished daisies. The vibrant flowers include dahlias and sunflowers freshly picked from our garden.  The cup and saucer were a wonderful find. They are Early Derby London shaped with gold rims and handle dating from the 1800s. The pattern is the much loved Derby Traditional Imari Pattern 2451. This pattern was made over many years and is still in production today. It uses the traditional Imari colours of deep red, cobalt and gold and includes diamond lozenges and stylised floral motifs. The tea plate also has an Imari pattern. However the plate is later dating from the 1880s with a makers mark of Taylor & Kent (Ltd).

When I think of Autumn, pumpkins and squash immediately come to mind.  I am fascinated by the patterns on squash and painted this Autumnal still-life this week. I wanted to convey the structure and patterning of the fruit, whilst enjoying mixing the beautiful vibrant yellows and oranges.The striped fruit are Harlequin Squash and the deep orange one is a Kabocha Squash. Harlequin Squash are recommended by the RHS to be an excellent attractant and nectar source for bees and other beneficial insects. I haven’t grown any pumpkins or squash this year but will definately grow some next year to brighten up my vegetable beds. I included an old English Egremont Russet Apple with distinctive russet bronze fruits and some Autumnal leaves in my still life.

Autumn Fruits


October is a lovely month for celebrating the humble apple. Apples have been harvested in temperate Europe since prehistory. Downing’s Fruits, printed in 1866, has 643 varieties listed. Now we have over 5000 named apples. The oldest known variety of apple  is `Court Pendu Plat‘  which may go back to Roman times and is recorded from the sixteenth century. Raised in 1850 Cox’s Orange Pippin is one of the best dessert apples. However it is difficult to grow as it is disease prone and hates wet clay. It does best on a warm wall. `Beauty of Bath‘ was introduced in 1864 and fruits in late Summer with small sweet juicy yellow fruits stained scarlet and orange. Egremont Russet was bred in 1872 and has roughened greeny bronze skin with a crisp and firm flesh.

Autumnal Apples

I wanted to paint something Autumnal so chose a selection of apples from my local supermarket to paint in watercolour. I managed to find 5 different varieties all with different hues of red and green. I placed the green Granny Smith in the middle to give the painting some balance. I would have liked a Russet,  but there weren’t any available in the shops. Russets have quite a rough, unshiny texture which may have made more of a contrast in my painting. All my apples had quite a shine on them so I aimed to create shine as well as celebrate the different red hues. I really enjoyed painting my apples. I think I managed to use nearly all the reds in my paintbox! I used Scarlet Lake, Winsor Red, Permanent Carmine, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Permanent Rose, Brown Madder and Quinacridone Red. I included a useful guide to red pigments in my previous Ruby Red Bouquet Blog Post.

Quinacridone Red was great for the Pink Lady apple as it is a good vibrant pinkish red. The small Estivale apple needed a bright red so I used Scarlet Lake. Royal Gala is stripey and a deep almost maroon colour in places and more orangey in the highlights. I used Permanent Alizarin Crimson with a tough of Paynes Gray to darken it. On first glance the Cox and Royal Gala are both dark red apples. However they aren’t the same hue on closer observation. Royal Gala is more maroon or burgundy and the Cox is more orangey rusty red. I chose to use Brown Madder to create the main colour of the Cox with touches of Permanent Alizarin Crimson in the shadow.

Having made a close observational painting of my apples I was in the mood for cooking with apples. Mr Smiles had a birthday so I made some Apple and Oat Muffins in addition to a Birthday Cake.

Apple and Oat Muffins

My recipe for Apple and Oat Muffins was taken from `The Great British Bake Off Everyday Cookbook’. I have never made muffins before and I would highly recommend having a go, as this recipe is quick and easy.

 For the topping

50g porridge oats

50g demerara sugar

50g plain flour

50g unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the base

250g plain flour

25g porridge oats

175g caster sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

finely grated zest of 1 medium unwaxed lemon

150g unsalted butter, diced

2 medium eggs, at room temperature

100ml milk, at room temperature

1 large eating apple, cored and cut into small pieces

Heat your oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Make the crumble topping first. Put the oats, sugar and flour into a mixing bowl and combine with your hand.

Oat Mixture Cut the butter into pieces,Unsalted Butter add to the bowl and rub into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.Then gently squeeze the mixture together until it forms pea-like clumps. Set aside until needed. Oat Crumble Topping( I must admit I found it hard to make small pea size clumps. Mine were more  like broad bean clumps).

Crumble Topping

Now make the base. Put the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest  into a mixing bowl and mix together thoroughly with a wooden spoon.  Gently melt the butter in a small pan. Leave to cool. Beat the eggs and milk in a small bowl with a fork until just combined. Add the melted butter and milk mixture to the flour mix in the bowl and stir gently until just combined. There’s no need to beat the mixture.

Muffin Mix

Spoon the mixture into 12 paper cases in the muffin tray so they are evenly filled. Top each with an equal amount of chopped apple and gently press the pieces into the muffin mixture. (they should remain visible). Cover with the crumble topping, dividing it equally among the muffins, and gently press down on the base.

Chopped Apple

Muffin Mixture

Place in the heated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and just firm when gently pressed in the centre. Set the tray on a wire rack and cool for 3-4 minutes. Carefully lift the muffins out of the tray onto the rack. They are best served warm the same or next day.

Apple and Oat Muffins

The apple and oat muffins went down well. I think they would be great served with lashings of cream or custard!


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Citrus Celebration!

Citrus CelebrationMr Smiles made a slight mis-judgement with our supermarket delivery this week. Instead of ordering 4 individual lemons he ordered 4 bags of lemons and instead of 2 limes we have 2 bags of limes. My challenge therefore was to use 20 lemons and 10 limes and I rose to the Citrus Challenge!

My first recipe of the weekend was Lemon Curd,  closely followed by Lime Curd. Curds aren’t really preserves as they only keep for a few weeks. However they are used like preserves – spread on toast and as fillings for cakes and other desserts. I’ve never made any kind of curd before and I am converted! They are so easy to make. Even Mr Smiles enjoyed having a stir and helping pour into jars. Any fruit with a slight sharpness makes a good curd.

Lemon Curd

  • 4 x 225ml (8 fl oz) jars
  • 325g (11.5 oz) golden caster sugar
  • 4 lemons
  • 125g (4oz) unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs

Place the sugar in a large heatproof bowl on top of a pan of simmering water.

Golden Caster Sugar

Finely zest the 4 lemons and then extract the juice. I bought an amazingly efficient lemon squeezer at the weekend. Cut a lemon in half, place in the cup and squeeze the handles to make juice. Compared to my traditional lemon squeezer this is effortless juice extraction. The skin, flesh and pips can be removed in one piece for discarding and there is less mess.  No mopping up of fleshy bits and seeds, and much easier to clean afterwards. (My zested lemon is posing on top of the squeezer, which is artistic licence!) Add the juice and zest to the bowl with the sugar.

Easy Squeezer

Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the mix.

Unsalted Butter

Lightly beat the eggs and add them to the other ingredients.

Lightly Beaten

The heatproof bowl rests on a saucepan on top of the simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Simmering CurdSwirls of Curd

Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Coats the back of the Spoon

Pour the curd into hot sterilised jars, cover and seal. The curd will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

I made Lime Curd in exactly the same way although the quantities were slightly different and made 3 jars instead of 4.

Lime Curd Ingredients

  • 225g (8 oz) caster sugar
  • juice and finely grated zest of 5 limes
  • 150g (5 oz) unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs and 2 egg yolks

Lemon & Lime

I had successfully managed to use 4 lemons and 5 limes. Only 16 lemons and 7 limes to go! I realised that Lemon and Lime Curd wouldn’ t keep like my jams for Christmas presents. I therefore decided to get creative using the Lemon Curd in another recipe.

Mary Berry’s Lemon Meringue Ice Cream

This is a fantastic recipe, very easy to make and tastes delicious!

  • 300ml/½ pint double cream
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 jar good quality lemon curd
  • 4 meringues broken into chunky pieces
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh lemon balm
  • 3 passionfruit, halved, pulp and seeds scooped out
  • sprigs of lemon balm, to garnish


Line a 450g/1lb loaf tin with clingfilm, overlapping the sides.

Whisk the cream lightly until the whisk leaves a trail. Double Cream


Add the lemon zest and juice Easy Squeezerand half the jar of lemon curd then fold in the meringue and chopped lemon balm.

Lemon Meringue Dream

At this point I discovered I had no lemon balm and neither did 3 supermarkets or a garden centre! Lemon balm is a perennial herb in the mint family. It is often used as a flavouring in ice cream and herbal teas. Having asked around, a friend came to the rescue and gave me an off shoot of her plant. Beware it can spread and be invasive like mint. As I had no lemon balm I improvised and used a small piece of finely chopped lemon grass which I hoped would give a nice fresh citrus taste to the ice-cream.

Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin. Cover with the clingfilm and freeze for at least 6 hours.

Remove the ice cream from the freezer 10- 15 minutes before turning onto a plate. Lift the ice cream from the loaf tin, invert it onto a board and remove the clingfilm.Dip a sharp knife in boiling water and cut the ice cream into thick slices.

Mix the other half of the lemon curd with the pulp and seeds from the passion fruit to make a refreshing sauce. I’ve never used passion fruit before in a recipe. On the outside they are pretty boring, dark, ugly fruits. However I thought they were quite pretty when I cut them in half. The pink flesh matched the pretty pink saucer and the white pith looked lacy like the tablecloth.

Passionfruit Place a slice of ice cream on a plate and top with a spoonful of the passion fruit sauce. Decorate with sprigs of lemon balm if you have it.

Lemon Meringue Ice Cream



I still needed to find more delicious citrus recipes to use all the lemons and limes we’d bought. I found another Mary Berry recipe was quite easy to make and also delicious.

Mary Berry’s Lemon & Lime Cheesecake

  • 10 digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 50g (1¾ oz) butter, melted
  • 25g (scant 1oz) demerara sugar
  • 150ml (5fl oz) double cream
  • 397g can full-fat condensed milk
  • 175g (6oz) full-fat cream cheese (room temperature)
  • grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons
  • grated zest and juice of 1½ limes
  • 150ml (5fl oz) double or whipping cream, to decorate
  • ½ lime, thinly sliced, to decorate

This is a really, easy recipe which looks lovely and tastes delicious.

To make the biscuit base place the biscuits in a clear plastic bag. Lay the bag on a flat surface and run a rolling pin back and forth over the biscuits until they form crumbs. I actually used a mixture of digestive biscuits and ginger biscuits. I find digestive biscuits give a more crumbly texture and I like the taste of the ginger in the base.  Biscuits
Crushed Biscuit Base





Place the crushed biscuits and the sugar in a bowl. Melt the butter and pour over the biscuits, stirring until thouroughly mixed.


Turn the biscuit mixture out into a 20 cm (8in) loose- bottomed tin and press firmly and evenly over the bottom and up the sides using the back of a metal spoon. Chill for at least 30 minutes until set.  Demerara Sugar




Double Cream


To make the filling place the double cream, condensed milk and cream cheese in a bowl with the lemon and lime zests. Mix thoroughly. Using a balloon whisk gradually whisk in the lemon and lime juices and continue whisking until the mixture thickens. You must use full-fat condensed milk and cream cheese for the recipe to work, as the filling won’t set if you use low-fat substitutes.

Citrus Fiesta

Pour the lemon and lime filling into the crumb crust and spread it evenly. Cover and chill overnight.

Up to 6 hours before serving , whip the cream and decorate the cheesecake with swirls of whipped cream and slices of lime. I must admit my swirls were more like thick blobs as I overwhipped the cream, but I was still pleased with the result! 

Lemon & Lime Cheesecake


The last recipe I followed to use up the lemons was Lemon Drizzle Cake. We were still left with 11 lemons and 3 limes, but I think I made a jolly good effort at using them!

Lemon Drizzle Cake

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 250g self raising flour, sifted
  • zest and juice 2 lemons
  • 75g (3 oz) granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to Gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Grease a (20cm) round, deep loose-based tin and base line with baking parchment.


Place the butter, sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl. DSC_3887

Use an electric whisk to beat the butter and sugar together until they are pale and fluffy.



Gradually add the eggs, whisking well between additions and adding 2 tbsp of the flour with the last egg – this will prevent curdling.   DSC_3890









Sift over the remaining flour, then gently fold in with a metal spoon along with 1 tbsp hot water.   DSC_3892

Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.



Bake for 50-60 minutes until it is shrinking away from the sides of the tin. A fine skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 mins.


Squeeze the lemon juice, then sieve to remove the bits. Stir the granulated sugar into the lemon juice. Use the fine skewer to prick the cake all over, pour over the syrup – it should sink in but leave a crunchy crust. Leave to cool completely.


So here we have it – Mrs Smiles’ Finest Lemon Drizzle Cake.



The Lemon Drizzle Cake went down very well at work. I still have 10 lemons and 3 limes left, but have run out of steam. I am leaving them for Mr Smiles to be inventive with…Do let me know if you have any favourite lemon or lime recipes.

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Vintage China Commissions

This is my latest commission piece. Kate has a lot of vintage china that she has collected over the years.. This set had been in the family for generations but most pieces are chipped, cracked or worn. I gave it new life in a watercolour and invented the pattern on a new cup as all the cups had been thrown away.

It is a really pretty set but sadly has no Makers Mark to identify it. It does have a Pattern Number of 2/615 but this doesn’t give us a date.  If you have any idea as to the date of the tea-set please let me know and I will pass the information on.

I really enjoyed painting this commission. The colours in the china are very similar to the lovely patchwork table-runner and the client’s curtains. I am pleased that I have managed to convey the light streaming through the window on a sunny day.

Do get in touch if you would like me to bring your care worn china to life in a commissioned watercolor.


Ethel’s Jug

My love of vintage china started with Ethel’s jug. Ethel was my great, Grandma and the jug is the sole survivor of her tea-set. I remember both my Grandma Betty and my mum using the tea-set for afternoon tea. The tea-set was most likely part of a wedding gift to Ethel Spice and Henry Berry when they married in June 1913 in St James Church, Clapton, London. The milk  jug  dates from around 1913 and is described as Radfordian Ware, made by Samuel Radford Ltd.  


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