Domestic Life

Old domestic items not only remind us of times gone by, they evoke memories and associations.

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Antique High Chair

This high chair probably dates from the 1850's to the1880's. It is built from mahogany and has an ingenious spring release to convert it from a high chair into a low rocker: the tray could be folded back in either mode and there was a hole in the seat to take the commode' Hence its trade name of a 'metamorphic' chair.

Health and safety guidelines would certainly not be met now, yet the chair seated four and now five generations of the family down to meals quite safely. A little research has shown a similar one in the V&A Museum, and there are quite a few still about.


Triang 4-Wheel Trolley with Bricks

In the 1950s and 60s Triang was a popular British manufacturer of children’s toys. This little wagon is made of metal, filled with wooden building bricks and is approximately 50 years old.

Modern equivalents are still made, though not of metal, and being stable are excellent for helping toddlers to take their first steps.


Be-Ro Home Recipe Book

First published in 1923, the Be-Ro Home Recipes book soon became an essential item in any household. The company, founded in the 1880s by Thomas Bell, staged a series of exhibitions in the early 1920s where freshly-made scones, pastries and cakes were sold to visitors. These were so popular that consumers demanded copies of the recipes so they could bake them at home, and the concept of the Be-Ro Home Recipes book was born.


Wooden Smokers Pipe

Tobacco pipes were commonly made of briar wood, meerschaum, corncob, or clay. This little pipe was found in the Tabernacle Chapel, half-way up the stairs. The owner must have dropped it decades ago and it became wedged, out of sight, between wooden joists below the half-landing banister. Interestingly its very small size indicates that it probably belonged to a young person or woman.


Art Deco fireplace surround

This stylish fireplace came from one of Main Street's elegant Georgian houses (many of which doubled as ground floor shops). The rooms above the shop premises are large with high architrave ceilings and handsome low windows.


Dolls - every girl had one

Dolls were what just about every little girl had, but to have a black one was quite rare - as too were boy dolls. Dolls came in every shape and size - baby dolls and talking dolls, walking dolls dolls with closing eyes, dolls that said 'Mama'; and dolls which were simply pretty.



Wooden Bellows

A set of wooden hand bellows. Bellows were used to produce a strong current of air and increase draught to a fire. There was no such thing as central heating in those days, and most families had bellows for their coal and wood front room fires.


St Bruno Smokers Flakes

Tobacco was first introduced to Europe in the Sixteenth Century and rapidly spread around the world. Trevor Payne ran a Tobacconist shop at 11 Main Street up until the late 1900s. On display were a wide variety of beautifully-made wooden pipes at a wide range of prices; and smokers usually had their own preferred brand of tobacco. It is rare to smell pipe-smoke today - a lost experience that was a little similar to the effect we now gain from smelling apple woodsmoke or an autumn bonfire.


Toasting Fork

Toasting forks were used before oven grills or electric toasters. A slice of bread was speared by the fork and held in front of an open fire. When one side was done, the bread was turned over to toast the other side. Toasting forks were used regularly until about the 1950’s. Some people still toast bread this way purely for pleasure.

Clothing Coupons from the Second World War

Clothing was rationed from June 1941 until March 1949 after merchant navy shipping bringing in imports changed use, and the seas became increasingly dangerous. Initially each person was allocated 66 ration points per year, used to purchase clothing and material.This was later reduced to 48 points as war went on and women, originally employed in the cotton and wool industry, were deployed to munitions factories in order to aid the war effort. Each page of coupons were of a different colour in order to stop people from using their coupons all at once.


Postage Stamps 1969-1970

The stamps booklets shown here are from the year 1968. The ten shilling booklet features the explorer David Livingstone and the other shows a Woodpecker on the front. The cost of the booklets were 10 shillings (just over 50p in today's money) and 6 shillings (30p) respectively. The black 4d (fourpence) stamps were for letter post - there was a different cheaper post for unsealed correspondence such as postcards. There were two postal deliveries each day, and post not delivered within 24 hours was virtually unheard of.


Oil of Lavender

Lavender has been used widely over the ages for a variety of uses such as disinfectant and deodorant, insect repellent, and cleansing oil; and for medicinal purposes to battle common ailments such as chest pains, throat infections and the treatment of open wounds. Today it is more commonly used in perfumes and as an aromatherapy oil to relieve stress and aid sleep.


George VI Silver Jubilee Mug and other commemorative mugs

Centre front (left) is a mug to commemorate the silver jubilee of King George VI and Queen Mary for the years 1910-1935.

It was a matter of pride in days gone by to have 'good' china, and indeed most households boasted a china cabinet where special pieces were displayed, such as commemorative plates, mugs, medals and jugs. Older commemorative mugs are now quite sought after, and rarer ones are worth treasuring.


China Cups and Saucers

Two standard china cups and saucers with blue and gold pattern, and made in England. The accepted history of the tea set began in China around 220 B.C.E., when cups and saucers were made of white or blue porcelain.

It was usual to have an everyday set of china (six cups, saucers and tea plates, a sugar bowl and a milk jug); and one set 'for best', which would be kept in the china cabinet on display. Good china makes such as Royal Doulton and Royal Worcester would also include dinner plates, soup bowls and meat dishes in their sets.


Black Wooden Mantel Clock 1956

A mantel-piece was the shelf above a fireplace. After the Second World War, with new houses being built across the country, people wanted the new 'modern' style decor, furniture and furnishings. Most front rooms had a clock and they were usually placed above the fireplace to be easily seen. Mantle Clocks were first developed in France in the 1750s; they were commonly made from ormolu, porcelain or wood.


Shaving brushes

Shaving brushes used to have bristles made of badger hair. This one had a heavy brass handle. It didn’t stand up by itself as it would probably have been stored hanging with the bristles downwards for drainage. It was used to whip up a soapy foam and then used to apply the foam to the face prior to shaving (often with a ‘cut throat’ razor).



Glass Metal Perfume Bottle

During the late 1800s and into the 1900s the perfume industry created a trend of using cut glass or crystal bottles with brass caps – much like the design shown here. Ladies would keep these on their dressing tables.


Powder Compacts

This is a small metal face-powder compact. Icilma was a popular make-up and hair care brand during the 1940s, when powder was bought with an accompanying powder puff for application. Soon however, it was found that the powder could be compacted and sold in attractive smaller containers which became known as 'compacts'.


Ever Ready Safety Knife

A curiously shaped knife that was used to remove dry skin, corns and callouses. They usually had ivory or early resin/plastic handles. Ever Ready Safety Knives are still manufactured today.


Nappy Buckets

Buckets like this were used in the 1960s, 70s and 80s when terry towelling nappies were commonly used. (Disposable nappies were in their infancy and were not very effective.) A handkerchief-size piece of non woven fabric called a 'nappy liner' was placed inside the nappy to catch the solid matter; and when the nappy was changed the liner was flushed down the toilet. The stained nappy was put into a bucket containing a proprietary brand of bleach formulated for nappies (Napisan was probably the most popular brand); and soaked until there were enough nappies to be washed on a very hot cycle in the washing machine (or washed by hand and then boiled in a large pan). A lid was used to keep the smell inside the bucket. There was space inside the bucket to put a deodoriser block.


Snow Suit

This snow suit would have been worn by a 2 year old in 1950. It is made from a knitted cotton fabric with a brushed back and consists of several separate pieces, unlike the ‘all in ones’ often used today. Being white a snow suit would have needed washing fairly often, and being cotton it would have taken a long time to dry (there were no tumble driers in 1950), especially as it was used in winter when it probably could not be hung outside. Damp washing would often be hung on a clothes airer or draped on the fire guard to dry before an open fire.


Water Jug

These basic earthenware jugs were used in bedrooms before the time of bathrooms. There was usually a very large bowl of the same pattern into which warm or hot water was poured having been heated downstairs on a range or fire.

In poorer households or in warm summer weather a morning wash would be done with cold water. More expensive bedroom sets were made of superior china, with several items of the same pattern such as soap dishes and trays for hairpins. These have come somewhat back into fashion (for show) in converted cottages and barns, due to their attractiveness.


Willow Cricket bats

Cricket bats are traditionally made from Willow, and specifically from a variety of White Willow (Salix alba var. caerulea). The cricket batsd are treated with raw (unboiled) linseed oil which acted as a protective coat. This variety of willow is used because it is very tough and shock-resistant, not being significantly dented nor splintering with the impact of a cricket ball hit at high speed.


Flat Iron (Smoothing Iron and Stand)

Before the advent of electric irons, flat irons were used. They were made of solid iron and heated on the open fire. Their temperature could not be controlled and they were usually heated until a wet finger ‘sizzled’ when placed on the soleplate. They were made of very heavy metal, which helped iron out the creases. When hot they were placed on the stand to protect the surface they were on.


Packet of BROMO Toilet Paper

Manufactured by The Diamond Mills Paper Company in the 1870s, BROMO Paper came in individual sheets enclosed in a cardboard box. The packaging states ‘None genuine without watermark ‘BROMO’ in each sheet’; this was so that counterfeit products could easily be spotted. The sheets were not soft.

By the mid 1900s a firm called Jeyes were manufacturing paper on a roll with perforations to enable each sheet to be torn off. The biggest change - and welcome too - came when soft paper became the norm.


Two Circular Marquetry Hunt Scenes

Until fairly recently hunting was a part of life - an accepted way of keeping the fox population down and also a traditional part of life for the gentry.

Marqetry was an occupation or hobby which produced unique and interesting scenes that were usually hung on walls or made for furniture. Different colours and textures of wood were inlaid piece by piece onto a surface in an intricate design, and then veneered onto another surface for completion.


Wedding presents

These artifacts were a wedding gift given to Corbett Stephens and his new wife from the apprentices of the family business - East Back Engineering Works. The apprentices would have contributed a small amount of money each week from their wages - a generous gesture given that times were hard and apprentices paid more of an allowance than a wage in the first year or two.

These attractive tableware items are made of silver-plated metal.


Wooden Pegs

For centuries wooden pegs have been used to peg washing on rope washing lines. The alternative was to hang the clothes and sheets over bushes, which was not ideal during high winds. These type of pegs were carved individually as part of a country craft and often sold by travelling salespeople along with other wares.

Gypsies, now known as travellers, also made pegs, and would sell them by going from door to door. One woman was still doing this in Pembroke up until the late 1980s - if anyone knows her name please do let us know.


Dewar’s Scotch Whisky Decanter with Glass Stopper 1846-1962

The Dewar’s whisky brand was created in 1846 by John Dewar. The brand, now owned by Bacardi, is still sold today. Historically beers and spirits were permited to be only sold in Off Licences, and were treated with much more discretion than today with their ready availability and cheap offers in supermarkets. (Scottish people spell the spirit 'whisky'; while the Irish spell it 'whiskey' (i.e., with an extra 'e'). It is thought that the different spellings arise from the different Scots and Gaelic Irish language translations of the original word.)

Game – Rollerball – Shot by Spring Trigger (War Game)

This is a small hand-held game similar to pinball in which the player aims to fire small metal balls shot by a spring trigger at targets, in this case tanks and jets.

In the 1950s most small boys would have games like this ..... in a way they were the forerunners of Game Boys and similar small electronic games.