Southborough boot fair treasures

We don’t often get to our local boot fair at Mabledon, actually, we have only been once before. Last time, there was a chap selling new old stock Bakelite switches and doorknobs. This would be ideal for us now as we have recently moved in to a 1930’s house with all the original Bakelite door handles and locks and it would be nice to have matching light switches. No such luck.

We admired the houses on the way…

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For the most part people were selling old clothes and toys but we did find a few interesting pieces for a bargain price.

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The above left was the postcard collection which we bought from. I got some old postcards of Southborough high street from each end and we bought a whole album each that had some great images inside.

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Below are some images of our finds taken in our 2nd bedroom on the mantle of the thirties fireplace. Nick has scraped back the paint to reveal greens and pale pinks and the distressed look is providing some interesting texture to photograph with, I will be sad to see it go. Although he is creating many other areas of the house with that look at the moment.

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1930’s collectible cigarette silks.

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Always fond of a kitsch postcard.

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I love these postcards printed in Berlin with this quite harsh coloured tint.

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Aside from the graphic design, I like the sentiment as my family and friends are in Australia.

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People used to pin prick the windows to make the light shine through them.

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Novelty pop out postcard of Wales. Why don’t these still exist?

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1840’s blue and white platter with pretty crazing.

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Ceramic jug made in England, bargain price of 50p. Would look pretty with cut flowers from the garden.

This has got to be the best way to shop! Out in the sunshine buying antiques for less than what it would cost you new (and it would never be as nice).

 

All text and photographs are copyright by Castles on the Ground, 2016

 

 

A garden in the English summer

Yesterday we visited Perch Hill cuttings garden, the garden of Sarah Raven in Brightling, East Sussex. Sarah Raven has written several books on gardening and cooking and runs courses at Perch Hill in a beautiful barn overlooking the hillside (which you can see later in the post). Raven uses bold and bright colour combinations in her gardens which in theory sound discordant but in reality work well and give the garden a sense of energy.

Following an intense drive down winding one track roads with high hedgerows, we arrived without having to reverse up-hill to let other motorists past. Crisis over.

Earlier in the year I had sown seed and planted dahlia tubers from Sarah Raven, which are now in flower, but not as impressive as the blooms at Perch Hill.

The garden is only open to the public on 7 occasions this year, so I was quite excited to experience it and get some ideas for plant combinations for our garden.

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The garden has several gardens (cuttings garden, kitchen garden, ornamental kitchen garden, rose and herb garden, meadow…you get the idea) but it felt more intimate than most National Trust Gardens. I liked the height and how you feel like you could be lost in the garden.

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IMG_8059I was expecting the dahlias to be impressive and they did not disappoint. The dahlias I planted are roughly one third of the height of the ones here and I have only had 2 flowers! Next year, I need to hone my dahlia rearing skills in the garden.

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I loved this grass panicum elegans ‘frosted explosion’ and how it softly floats around the dahlias. This is on my list for our garden.

Through the cutting garden to the track that leads to the herb and rose garden and the Barn…

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As we arrived the rain started…And I set about quickly photographing all the containers to collect ideas.

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When the rain got too heavy we had a tea break inside the barn. I liked the large wreath that was hung in the peak of the ceiling.

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The rain left me with a good opportunity to get a clear shot of the rose and herb garden. Then a quick wander through the ornamental garden then back through the cutting garden and the meadow and back home. I had to plant my dahlias out.

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All text and photographs are copyright by Castles on the Ground, 2016.

 

 

 

 

The more things change…

There has been a lot of change recently in Southborough and Tunbridge Wells, lots of old, interesting buildings being demolished to make way for housing and other developments. The old Kent and Sussex Hospital and the Dairy Crest site and the being two notable examples.

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Postcard from the 1930’s.

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Images of the Dairycrest site partially demolished recently. I never knew it had this pretty arsenic coloured tiling inside.

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But the closest example to me (personally and geographically) is the Royal Victoria Hall in Southborough which is in a sorry state but by no means a lost cause.

The hall officially opened on the 17th January, 1900 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Local philanthropist Sir David Salomons donated £3000 of the total £5000 (with Southborough Urban District Council meeting the additional cost) and it became the first municipal theatre in England.

The Theatre Trust describes the aim of the hall ‘to provide theatrical and other rational amusements to people who could not afford to go to theatres in the adjoining towns‘.

The Trust describes the theatre in its original form…’A red brick, rectangular building with a low fly tower and, originally, a chapel-like facade set back from the road. A pretty cast iron porch was removed (and purchased by a Councillor who thought its removal regrettable) and replaced by ‘modern’ canopy. The auditorium was designed with a scenic stage, permanent seating in a straight-across end balcony (on two decorative columns) and a flat floor. Square reeded proscenium arch with decorative panels featuring swags and drops either side. Panelled dado with red flock wall paper above reaching to deep plain coving and decorative ventilation grilles’.

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Imagine the council offices restored to their former glory; trees out the front, people with a sense of civic pride…

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Determined to stop the closure in 2012, the Friends of the Royal Victoria Hall was formed and lead a concerted campaign to safeguard the future of the hall. A petition with over 11,000 signatures to save the hall and a sound business plan to keep it open was presented but then dismissed by Southborough Town Council at a packed out meeting, as loud cheers and horns honked outside to show the support for the RVH. Never before had the council had such a protest outside.

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Sadly, it all fell on deaf ears and unsurprisingly when 11,000 voices are ignored, that the turnout for the public consultation would be poor. That is a lot of people, me included, thinking ‘what is the point?’.

369 out of 11,000 residents in the town responded to the choice of two options; part-retain or new build in the public consultation in 2015. Of the 369 respondents 58% opted for the new build, so the 214 people of Southborough and High Brooms have spoken! *note the sarcasm here* The decision was made to go with the new build option which has been described by some as ‘cheap and nasty‘ and ‘like something from the planet Zanussi‘.

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I like how the above image shows a couple of perplexed members of the public staring up at their image reflected in the giant orange disc.

 

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Then then Mayor, Cllr Oakford scoffed at the business plan put together by the group at that meeting saying it would not meet standards he would expect in his previous career in the oil industry; strange as to date there is no business plan or financial projections at all for the Hub despite planning permission currently being submitted.

A local resident, Martin Webber, has published some excellent interviews with residents and Town Councillors on his detailed blog, Southborough News.

You may think this is an improvement on the original theatre, but I’m all for conserving the historical aspects of our town. It’s what gives us soul and makes us unique and attractive. 

Where I’m from (check out About) this would be considered a beautiful and valuable asset to a town worthy of respect and restoration. There are plenty of examples of where buildings have been restored and it has clearly added value to the street scene, like the recently opened One Warwick Park in Tunbridge Wells.

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Photograph from Times of Tunbridge Wells

Best case scenario is Southborough Town Council actually start listening to residents’ concerns and even it the Hub takes a few months longer to change the look of the building at least it could be something the town can be proud of.