SPECIAL NOTICE 16TH MARCH 2020- Due to the CORONAVIRUS crisis all U3A meetings in person are currently suspended until further notice. Please watch this space for updates or contact your group coordinator.
We meet at Tesco Community Room at 2.30 on the first Wednesday of the month.
Our regular speaker is David Palmer, a freelance auctioneer and regular guest on programmes such as 'Flog-It' and 'Bargain Hunt', famous for his colourful waistcoats. He regales us of his monthly auctions and markets and brings us artefacts to guess whether they are originals, fakes or reproductions and their prices.
We regularly have 17-19 people attending and in December we welcomed 3 new members.
All are welcome to join us.
Do come along and give Antiques a try.
We have a contribution from our member Jan and if anyone else would also like to write something please contact Niddy
My parents, sister and I moved to Newmarket in the late 1950’s as my father had accepted a job in local government. We had no relatives living near. I went to Newmarket Grammar School, where much emphasis was placed on science subjects - I was hopeless at maths, physics and chemistry - but did enjoy French, Geography and Art. So I wasn’t one of their academic pupils. At 16 I went to the Silver Jubilee School in Bury St Edmunds to take a secretarial course. I enjoyed shorthand and the other subjects. At home, my mother was a keen dressmaker, and she passed some of these skills on to me, although she thought I was a bit slap dash. I also enjoyed French magazines and translating knitting patterns, which I knitted.
My father was fairly ill from an illness he had picked up in the War, and he nearly died when I was 21. A spell in hospital restored his health, and Just afterwards I had an opportunity to work in Brussels as a Junior Secretary. My office was in the EU building ( The Berlaymont), I worked for an Englishman and a German woman. Work began 8.30 am until 6 pm. It was the 70’s and Scandinavian design was at the forefront. I walked to work every day as this took me past covered galleries, and art dealer shops. Brussels was a very cultural city - a modern bank would be offset with a large Henry Moore sculpture, and across the road in a park, there would be ancient statues. Ballet, opera, concerts - they were inexpensive and I saw Jacqueline du Pre who was magical. Paris was a short hop away on the train.
After a year I decided to come back to UK and lived and worked in an office in London. I met someone called Audrey Field who had a lace stall in Alfie’s Antique Market. I started to buy bags of lace from her and made a few cushions. Audrey introduced me to Pat Earnshaw who had married into a Yorkshire mill owning family, and she would get up at the crack of dawn and visit London markets to buy bags of lace. Pat had a forensic mind and taught herself how to identify whether the lace was bobbin, needlelace or chemical. She subsequently wrote a book on this, which has become a sort of bible. Audrey became the lace expert at Philips in Bond Street. My cushions were sold through an interior decorators shop, and a member of the Royal Family saw them in the window and bought some! When it was her birthday, her husband went into the shop and bought some more!
When I was 30, my father died and after a year or so, I came back to live with my mother with the intention of buying a property - but prices kept going up, so I didn’t. I worked in Cambridge 3 days a week and sort of ran a business on the other two. Every Monday I would drive up to Abbott’s at Wickham Market to a real country auction. Until Foot & Mouth, they would auction cattle and afterwards antiques. There were some really interesting things to buy, but I did not have the knowledge then and also many people had much deeper pockets than I. Still I did manage to buy an interesting Chinese embroidery and a couple of rare pottery items.
I had met a lady who for many years had run a stall in Portobello Road specialising in textiles, and about once a month would take stuff up to her which she would buy from me. When Betty became too frail to run the stall, her daughter Linda took over and I continued to sell to her. Sadly, she died a couple of years ago.
My Mum was also becoming ill and following a stroke, she developed dementia. By that time I was selling on eBay and I obviously had to give up my office job. For a few years, going up to London and going to auctions was dependent on when we could get carers in. Everything was very piecemeal and for a time I had to give up eBay. So when I look back over my life, the textile knowledge I have acquired has been the environment I have lived in and the people I have met.
See photos in the right hand panel of examples of items I have sourced.
1. A hand-made needlelace handkerchief from Burano. Probably 19th century.
2. Part of a hand-stitched Chinese embroidery dating from about 1900. All silk threads.
Jan is happy to answer any questions if you want to send them via Niddy or the website editor through the CONTACT page.
Down memory lane
Bygones to be seen at Stowmarket Museum for life.