Tuesday, May 25, 2010


There's an old British saying, "If you're tired of London, you're tired of life."

I have to say the same about English china.

Especially vintage white cream-ware, and English ironstone.
It's not strictly an English tradition of course, but the old custom of lining up wares for display in a cupboard never seems to go out of fashion.

Pair it with the fairly recent craze for vintage wire baskets and you have an energetic composition of "traditional meets industrial.

A good mix of textures keeps white interesting. And vintage linens add as much to a pleasing arrangement as a vase full of flowers.
But I have always had a thing for English design whether it comes from Rachel Ashwell, Laura Ashley, or Ralph Lauren.
My favorite children's book illustrators are also British. Jill Barklem, from the Brambly Hedge series, and Brian and Cynthia Paterson of The Foxwood Tales. These are now mostly out of print and hard to obtain. Of course there is also the ever popular Beatrix Potter. What these all have in common is the romantic idealization of English cottage life as seen through the life of little animals in the hedgerow.

In the 80's I had a wallpaper in the nursery from which I saved a snippet. It was of an outdoor scene in a little village of animals. There was a miniature toadstool house with a curved door and a crooked chimney. A little mouse postman delivered the mail, and there was a small footbridge next to a well-set picnic table for various ducks, squirrels, and woodland animals. Somewhere along the way it disappeared. But it has always stayed in my mind as a symbol of the innocence of childhood, and I'm sorry it has been waylaid.

The Wind In the Willows by Kenneth Graham is the most well known literary version of the concept, but was not written exclusively for children.
I know that my love for cottage style has at least some of its roots in these old influences.
Whatever its source, I love all the visual cues and references to quintessential cottage life. The laces, baskets, floral prints, china, and weathered wood patina of it all.

Another enjoyable British influence comes from Virginia Woolf, most famous for her understanding of the very elements necessary for a creative life, in A Room of Her Own. But her lesser known novels are also filled with a deeply romantic and domestic sensibility. Her own English cottage has been showcased in Victoria magazine as well as others.
"Nothing stirred in the drawing room or in the dining room or on the staircase. Only through the rusty hinges and swollen sea-moistened woodwork certain airs detached from the body of the wind, crept round corners and ventured indoors. . . Then smoothly brushing the walls, they passed on musingly as if asking the red and yellow roses on the wall-paper whether they would fade, and questioning (gently for there was time at their disposal) the torn letters in the waste basket, the flowers, the books, all of which were now open to them and asking, Were they allies? Were they enemies? How long would they endure? . . . nosing, rubbing, they went to the window on the staircase, . . . descending, blanched the apples on the dining-room table, fumbled the petals of roses, tried the picture on the easel, brushed the mat and blew a little sand along the floor. At length, desisting, all ceased together; all together gave off an aimless gust of lamentation to which some door in the kitchen replied; swung wide; admitted nothing; and slammed to."
Virginia Woolf, Time Passes chapter, To the Lighthouse

Cheerio! Thanks for stopping by!
Here's wishing you a wonderful WW!


Be sure to visit Faded Charm for more White Wednesday!


  1. There are so many shades of white, I don't think I could tire of it. So many pretty things, T

  2. Wow! This is just stunning! Looks like you should be in a magazine! I love how you have displayed your ironstone in the wire baskets! And the addition of the pretty crocheted vintage linens is perfect. I have a wire basket very similar to yours (the round one). My mom gave it to me, and I painted it my favorite shade of green. She used it to collect eggs in many years ago on our families farm.

  3. Jacqueline! Love how you've arranged your English Stoneware! Wish I had a spot like that!
    Very Charming,

  4. Thanks for visiting, it brought me to your blog that I so enjoyed. Inspired by the ironstone in the wire gym baskets, great look!

  5. Oh your description of your favorite little wallpaper is the most heartwarming story.
    Don't you just hate when you cherish something so much it disappears.
    Your post was delightful to read and the pictures amazing to look at.
    Thanks for sharing

  6. Gorgeous collection all displayed in a beauitful way.

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a sweet comment.

  7. Hi Jacqueline,

    You've created some beautiful displays! I love English china, too, and am partial to transferware - so many designs - I like to mix and match. I thoroughly enjoyed your post.


  8. I was lucky enough to come across your lovely blog. I went searching for the follow button right away. So pretty I don't want to miss a post, Char

  9. Beautiful white china. As I have been doing White Wednesday, I have come to realize how lacking I am in white china! I'm on the prowl for a pretty white teapot!

  10. So much "pretty" to look at. Thanks for sharing.

    Partying with you tonight.

  11. I so enjoyed your post and looking at your collections! I love old books and white china too! I have a collection of children's books by Beatrix Potter that I gave to my daughter.

  12. Hello, Such a lovely post! Your photos are picture perfect and the sentiment so endearing! I so enjoyed my visit and am your newest follower!

  13. I love the way you display all your gorgeous beautiful!!

  14. I love how you have displayed your beautiful collection!

  15. Love the white china and all the cottage elements. SO enjoyed my visit coming over for WW from Kathleens. Glad you joined up and posted today. It's all LOVELY! I have a vintage hardback copy of Wind In the Willows on my mantel, and an older version for children with colorful illustrations I found at Goodwill. Love the English Countryside aura of these stories too. Thanks for sharing all the lovelies!

  16. OH, I think you just hit upon all my favorite things right here in this post! You definitely nailed my favorite designers! Love the children's illustrators! Love the Brambly Hedge stories and china for children. I just love it all. Especially cottage!

  17. Stunning photos today!! I have always been a big fan of Beatrix Potter and have passed that along to my daughter too! Happy WW!

  18. I really like the look of the simplicity of the whites, mixed in with the wire baskets! Gives it all a great look!

    Take care, Sue

  19. Simply fabulous! Love Jill Barklem to pieces-I spent my 'teen' years reproducing several of her drawings!!! Beatrix Potter, Virginia Woolf, Laura Asheley, Ralph Lauren, Rachel Ashwell are all favorites of mine too.
    Thanks for this inspiring post!

  20. My heart is going pitter patter over your ironstone in those metal baskets. I just can't get enough of this look.

    I thought I had added you to my blog list, but I guess not. I'll do it right now. Loving your blog.

    Take care,



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