The steamer trunk, well used from the 1890's going on wonderful journeys, filled with glamorous gowns and jewelry, exquisite artifacts on its journey home, always robust, sturdy and ready to protect its contents. Passed down through family members, through generations and the chimes of Big Ben announcing new centuries. I imagine the romance of the 1920's and 1930's, the harshness of the 1940's, the freedom of later decades.
Sadly the romance of this empty chest had been lost on its owners and it was listed on Ebay for my Dad to find. Now in 2016, it has traveled to my home where it will spend its retirement sitting at the top of my stairs, pride of place and perfect proportions to be treasured.
This beautiful piece of furniture could probably tell some wonderful stories, but for the beginning of this post, let's just look at the interior.
Sad and forlorn isn't it? But, this sadness and deterioration is beautiful in its own way. Some would restore it with jazzy papers or rip it back to the wood, but I'm one that respects history and what an object has to tell.
Of course there has to be a secret compartment which is now quite obvious. I wonder how many little hands were told about this little space and immersed themselves for minutes trying to find it.
So, what do I have to offer this delightful new addition to my home? Well, after planting the acorns from Greenwich Park last week in memory of my Grandad, I thought the time had come to seriously sit down with my Grandad's papers that are dotted around the different rooms, and put them altogether in one place.
It seems appropriate to have them in a chest that was well used during the time he was a child and one that when you open the lid, has the exquisite smell of old mustiness mixed with old papers.
The moments that I will want to immerse myself in history will be in two flicks of old catches, the lid will open, the smells will remind me and the writing will take me back to his arm chair in the back room where I would sit on the floor beside him and listen to the historical facts.
As I spent this day looking through the folders, notebooks, maps and pieces of paper, it was time to let go of some where his history had repeated itself, time to be ruthless but, look what I am left with...
The Empty Chest is now Grandad's Chest. Full to brimming with historical treasures and family memories, a true heirloom. The Victorian linen tablecloth passed down through the generations and only used on very special occasions, can now be safely stored on top of the papers.
Heartfelt ribbon separating the different parts of history, London Docklands, Auxiliary Fire Brigade, Ministry of Works, Family History etc etc.
Nostalgia is a big thing with me and I have been throwing up some surprises lately!
An old typewriter in the downstairs study next to the computer...
The Singer Sewing Machine in the dining room...
The old rotary dial phone in the hall...
And now a robust chest containing the thoughts of a very, very dear man to me. It's been a long time since his death but I now feel strong enough to do this and the sense of achievement of condensing the enormous amount of boxes into one chest has consumed me today. A productive and happy day spent with my Grandad!
But now, the house is full of people again and the sun is beginning to set casting a golden glow to the buildings we can see from our home.
... and little Tia has been very patient today, watching me go from room to room emptying shelves, cupboards and drawers, but I think she's ready for a walk now.
Enjoy the rest of your week.