Posts tagged ‘Heidi Egginton’

October 26, 2014

Tourism and the Interwar Antique Shop

* Guest Post by Heidi Egginton, University of Cambridge *

As Mark very kindly said in his previous post, I am currently doing a PhD on amateur antique and curiosity collecting in Britain from the 1870s to the 1930s. In the course of my research I’ve become a bit obsessed with looking for old postcards and other bits and pieces relating to antique shops and collections, and when I came across some intriguing postcards apparently designed by two antique dealers themselves – Mr. F. G. Halliday of Fore Street, Taunton, and G. A. Parkhurst of Crawley – I decided to find out more…

During the early twentieth century, the new antique shops springing up in towns and villages all over England seemed to be instantly recognisable to amateur collectors and lovers of the antique – they tended to inhabit old, crooked buildings and played on their historical associations. This could mean simply affixing ‘Ye Olde’ to the name of the shop, though in some instances, the building itself was even promoted as a tourist attraction in collectors’ magazines, and through the use of promotional postcards. Many shops included cafés, and were evidently intended to cater for day-trippers and motorists.

F. G. Halliday, 'Ye Olde Tudor House'

One of a series of phototype postcards printed by Raphael Tuck & Sons to advertise F. G. Halliday’s ‘Ye Olde Tudor House’, Taunton (c. 1920s)

These two dealers, like many of their contemporaries, made much of their shops’ romantic (and probably spurious) connections with illustrious visitors. [1] Halliday portrayed his ‘Tudor House’ – now acknowledged as one of the oldest surviving domestic dwellings in Taunton – as being ‘rich in historical interest from its association with the notorious Judge Jeffreys and other celebrities’. [2] Parkhurst maintained that, in his shop’s previous life as an inn on the road to Brighton, ‘many noted personages’ had undoubtedly stayed there on their progress to and from London, ‘including Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Anne’.

IMG_5029

Map showing location of antique shops and Taunton Castle, in ‘The Quest of the Antique at Taunton’, The Bazaar: Our Saturday Issue for Collectors and Connoisseurs (8th October 1927)

One of the main attractions of these shops, however – perhaps even more so than the antiques and curios offered for sale – were their original architectural and interior features. In the summer of 1914, the newly-opened ‘Hatfield Gallery of Antiques, Ltd.’ placed an advertisement in the Connoisseur proclaiming that the firm had been established in Goodrich House, a ‘fine specimen of English domestic architecture’ with ‘25 spacious rooms, many fitted with rare Adam mantelpieces’. ‘The furniture and other antiques for sale, instead of being huddled together, as is generally the case in a shop, are judiciously placed about the various rooms as in a private house, and purchasers thereby are best able to judge how they would look in their own homes’. All of this was described as ‘in itself well worth a visit’, as there was much to ‘interest the antiquarian or artist’. This firm even employed its own ‘Curator’, a Mr. Horace Hall, who had previously worked in ‘the Antique Department of Harrods’ Stores’ [3]

Ye Olde Tudor House, Taunton postcard

The impressive ‘Banqueting Hall’, with a first-floor balcony, inside the Tudor House (c. 1920s)

In the following decade, Halliday and Parkhurst were suggesting that their shops could be visited as part of a day out in the countryside or market town, almost in the same way as historic houses. On his postcard, Halliday called his shop a ‘fine’ specimen of ‘Tudor architecture’ and ‘a striking example of the old world town of Taunton’; still of ‘undoubted antiquity’. Inside the shop, as well as some ‘well-preserved old timbering and some excellent panelling’, several rooms contained ‘examples of Adam work’ from the end of the eighteenth century. The Bazaar, Exchange and Mart’s special Saturday issue for antique collectors described the Tudor House in October 1927 as being full of ‘splendid “period” rooms where each piece has its place, and the galleries have the air and appearance of a particularly “intimate” museum’. [4]

Ye Ancient Prior's House, Crawley

Souvenir postcard showing exterior of G.A. Parkhurst’s ‘Ye Ancient Prior’s House’ (postmarked 4th January 1917)

On the first floor of the ‘Ancient Prior’s House’, which dated from ‘1150’, Parkhurst said that he had found ‘two secret chambers’ – no doubt once used by ‘highwaymen, who were the terror of the road in the old days’. Although he insisted, rather sheepishly, that he had most definitely not attempted to ‘verify’ the rumour that his cellars contained the entrance to ‘a secret underground passage leading into the Church’, he had also found ‘several old smuggling chambers’ underneath his front room.

G. A. Parkhurst postcard

Promotional postcard showing the ‘Entrance Hall’ to Parkhurst’s shop (c. 1910s)

G. A. Parkhurst died in 1920 and the shop briefly passed to a ‘J. Wyndham Parkhurst’, probably a relation. Some antiques were later transferred to ‘The Carlton Galleries’ in Tunbridge Wells, which dealt in ‘Authentic Antique Furniture’ as well as offering decoration services for period and modern room schemes. [5] By the end of the 1920s, the shop itself had been converted back into an inn, ‘furnished with the old beautiful’, by Trust Houses Ltd., a company who ran a number of “old English” hotels and historic public houses.

IMG_5028

‘The Motorist Antique Collectors’ Guide’, showing the locations and opening times of antique shops and other attractions between Brighton and London in The Bazaar: The Popular Weekly for Connoisseurs and Collectors (27th April 1929)

Halliday moved out of the Tudor House and into another shop in 1946, at which point it became a restaurant; its new owners assured a local newspaper that they would retain the interior’s original features. [6]

 

Heidi

 

[1] Deborah Cohen, Household Gods: The British and their Possessions (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006), pp. 152-53.

[2] R. J. E. Bush, ‘The Tudor Tavern, Fore Street, Taunton’, Somerset Archaeology and Natural History, 119 (1975), pp. 15-21.

[3] Advertisement: ‘Now Open: Visit Historical Hatfield and The Hatfield Gallery of Antiques, Ltd., Founded to Encourage the Collecting of Genuine Antiques’, Connoisseur (May 1914), p. xxvi. For Harrods’ antique department, see: Julia Petrov, ‘“The habit of their age”: English Genre Painters, Dress Collecting, and Museums, 1910-1914’, Journal of the History of Collections, 20 (2008), p. 241.

[4] ‘The Quest of the Antique at Taunton’, The Bazaar, Exchange and Mart, 9 October 1927, p. 380.

[5] Advertisement: ‘The Carlton Galleries’, Kent & Sussex Courier, 28 February 1936, p. 11.

[6] ‘A Historic Tudor House: No. 15, Fore Street, Taunton, To Change Hands’, Somerset County Herald, 26 January 1946, p. 3.

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October 19, 2014

The generosity of scholars!

I had the great pleasure of meeting Heidi Egginton this week whilst I was in London – Heidi is an emerging scholar, just completing a PhD at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Professor Peter Mandler. Heidi’s PhD looks at the craze for collecting old furniture, bric-à-brac, and curiosities during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. She is especially interested in the ways in which a taste for historic furnishings, and knowledge of the decorative arts and craftsmanship, circulated among a popular audience after the 1900s. Of course, there are many intersections that resonate with the Antique Dealer Project, and it was fascinating to hear how her research is progressing – and,  with such a wonderfully generous gesture, Heidi sent us some information on some early 20th century dealers she has been discovering – including sending us a massive spreadsheet with over 200 dealer names and locations from the Shrewsbury trade directories (c.1900-1940)….amazingly generous!…Thank you Heidi!

Heidi has also very kindly agreed to post some blog entries for the project, based on some research she has undertaken – so what this space for Heidi’s blog posts – we have quite a community of interest developing around the Antique Dealer project!

Mark

 

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