1500s and 1600s

Foot warmers: hot coals, hot water

Thumbnail image for Foot warmers: hot coals, hot water

Ceramic hot water bottles were common in the 19th and early 20th centuries. As well as filling hot water containers to warm your bed, you could buy earthenware bottles to use as foot warmers or hand warmers too. Earlier foot warmers used to hold hot coals, or glowing wood, not warm water. In the same way, […]

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Tiled stoves, winter warmth

glazed tile stove

Tiled stoves were a wonderful way of heating homes in Northern Europe. I’ve often wondered why the British never used them. The settlers in North America hardly used them either, even in regions with bitter cold winters. At first they seem to have followed the British idea of having a fire to warm yourself by, […]

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Using a dough box or kneading trough

dough box kneading bin

If you’ve ever made bread, how much flour did your recipe call for? One pound? One kilo? Just enough for one or two tasty loaves? You need to get into a different mindset to understand a dough box. (Also called dough bin, dough trough, kneading trough or tray, with or without a lid and/or legs.) […]

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Rocking cradles – wood or wicker

wicker rocking cradle

Cradle designs have changed, but are parents’ concerns any different? 200 years ago people were writing about the well-known dilemma: how much can I let my baby sleep in the day without stopping it from sleeping well at night? It only remains…to say something of the cradle…I believe there is no doubt but the custom […]

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Tea caddies

fruit tea caddy

Tea first arrived in Europe in 1610, when Dutch traders brought some back from Asia to the Netherlands. It reached England in the 1640s and soon became a fashionable drink in London, but it was not something you made at home. If you wanted to drink it in private you had to order a cup […]

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Delft blue tiles – not always blue, not always from Delft

Delft tiles 1600s

The history of Delft tiles goes back to the early 1600s when blue and white porcelain from China first arrived in the Netherlands. It was much admired and Dutch potters wanted to imitate the look, even though they couldn’t recreate true Chinese porcelain. Potteries in Delft had some success with good quality blue and white […]

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Historic kitchens – visiting with eyes wide open

kitchen 1500s England

Whenever I travel I look out for historic houses, especially if they have kitchens worth visiting, and enjoy picking out bits and pieces for a closer look. And yet the room often isn’t the way it would have looked at any time in its life. The picture above is of a 16th century English manor […]

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Muff warmers & other antique hand warmers

stoneware hand warmer for muff

A hundred years ago a woman going out in the cold of winter could tuck a miniature hot water bottle inside her fur muff to keep her hands warm: like Maw’s Dainty Muff Warmer in the photo. This kind of hand warmer was on sale in late Victorian and Edwardian England. The Thermos Hot-water Muff […]

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Medieval and Renaissance combs

17th century comb

The most beautiful combs owned by ladies in late medieval and Renaissance times were highly ornamented in between their two rows of teeth. They look special, and they are. Some of the best were given as love tokens, and the fine, lacy carving included mottos, hearts, dates or initials. Did the young ladies use their […]

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Trundle bed or truckle bed?

trundle bed

What do trundle beds mean to you? The last one I saw was in a hotel where a small child’s rollaway lived under the main bed in daytime. This is exactly how they were used in thousands of American homes in the 19th century and before. And their history goes back much further too. For […]

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