A striking example from the collection of 18th century decorative arts is a miniature china head of a lady with brilliants for eyes displayed on its own stand. The piece was created in Chelsea and the lady is wearing a mask, similar to those which would have been worn at masquerades.

The China pendant in the shape of a lady wearing a mask.


 There is also another pendant which is decorated with enamel and features the same style stand. The pendant depicts a clock face on one side and the other features stylised flowers.  

The clock face painted onto pendant…

Reverse of the pendant featuring a floral motif.

Other pendants in the collection are  miniature china boxes and covers in the form of an acorn, they vary in decoration with blue and gold, blue and green spots, floral decoration and yellow striped decoration.

Acorn shaped pendant box open.


 Another elaborate piece of jewellery from the collection is a necklace in the ‘choker’ style comprising of six Battersea enamel medallions depicting female busts, which is then threaded onto a satin ribbon.

necklace featuring the medallions.

necklace featuring the medallions.

Close up of medallion.

Reverse of the necklace showing how they are threaded on to the ribbon.


As well as mourning rings the Flint Cottage collection includes a number of other rings. The first two gold rings are 16th century Italian and are both similar in style and feature enamel and table cut rubies, one in a quarterfoil mount and the other within a carved scroll mount. 


16th century Italian gold ring

The second Italian gold ring in the collection.




 I also love them as examples of how lavish the adornment of rings could be during the 16th century and the style reflects the period architecture with its elaborate adornment which you may see on grand cathedrals and castles.  


on the subject of Ham House…

Treasure Hunt

Ham House will be hosting a contemporary art exhibition called Garden of Reason between 28 April and 23 September 2012. Nine artists have been invited to create work inspired by the seventeenth-century garden of Ham House.

The title of the exhibition refers to the ‘age of reason’, the development of new philosophical systems in Europe in the seventeenth century based on strictly rational analysis and scientific research. The artists have been given access to the seventeenth-century archives relating to Ham and its owner, the feisty Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Dysart and Duchess of Lauderdale.

‘Eight ſculptures’ by Alan Kane and Simon Periton is an imaginative recreation of the sculptures (or ‘ſculptures’, as it was written at the time – with thanks to the helpful commenter below) that used to grace the Wilderness garden at Ham. Those sculptures were copies of famous Renaissance and antique works, and Kane and Periton are investigating issues of cultural…

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The Flint Cottage collection contains a series of rings, each one has it’s own individual story providing an in depth look into the rich tapestry of British history through these small objects:

First, I will focus on the Royalist ring featuring a miniature portrait of King Charles II.

Civil War ring featuring the ghostly image of King Charles II

The ring is gold and features the glazed miniature portrait set between two rose cut diamonds. The ring dates from the 17th century and was worn by a supporter of the Royalist side in the English Civil War.   Another property which has a historical link to the Civil War is Ham House in Richmond which you can discover on the website http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hamhouse/.

The next three rings in the collection are 18th century mourning rings. Mourning rings were worn to comemorate the  memory of a loved one often depicting an image of the deceased, an inspiring motto or even a lock of hair. 

The first one in the trilogy of mourning rings is a gold and enamel ring set with two diamonds and what appears to be hair weaved in the background. The picture depicts a skull and two initals, probably belonging to the deceased loved one.

Mourning ring featuring skull image.

Another mourning ring is more decorative and  features a miniature of a funeral urn and is set with a border of  25 small rubies. On the reverse of this  ring  there is  an inscription with the date 1775aged 32.




The Flint Cottage collection contains a number of small ivories.  These ivories date from the 14th century and are known as Gothic Ivories. At the moment I am working on the entries for the new collaborative project led by the Courtauld Institute and other institutions on a database focusing solely on Gothic Ivories.  The database aims to compare and contrast items and provide a valuable source for researchers and professionals with an interest on the subject : http://www.gothicivories.courtauld.ac.uk/


The Flint Cottage Ivories are having their entries completed at the moment. However, here is a preview of two of the very detailed Ivories from our collection.  The first ivory is in the form of a diptych (two hinged panels). The ivory is French and dates from the 14th century. One of the carved panels depicts the Virgin and Child with St Catherine and St John the Baptist holding a lamb.  The second panel features the crucifixion and are displayed in a red velvet frame.  

sale sticker on the reverse of the frame...

Another ivory from the collection is a carved ivory mirror back depicting a couple, probably two lovers in an outside garden. There are also carved animals present in each corner. Like the previous ivory this one is presented in its red velvet frame which emphasises the way in which the object was displayed by the owner. This highlights the status of these objects which were prized possessions of the collector. On the reverse of the object there is a   sticker from when it was brought, this is a valuable piece of evidence in my work on researching the items. Luckily, it was from a well documented sale, the sale of the collection of Baron von Oppenheim, who was a German Jewish banker. The collection was auctioned off and then purchased by Mr Ruffer. At the auction some of the collection was also purchased by the collector Sir Julius Wernher, who left the collection to Ranger’s House in Greenwich. There are also items from the same sale housed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. All these ivories are now on the database brining the two collections together all the collections will be explored in a conference to be held at the V and A museum on 10th March.  



Ivory Mirror back…

opens like a book...

I have decided that for the first blog post about an object in the collection, I will focus on  a small but beautiful piece of jewellery. This is a very rare example of an English enamel and gold pendant that dates from the mid 16th century. The pendant is hinged in the centre, which makes it appear like a miniature book or even a bible as the enamelling depicts religious images. One side depicts the Virgin and Child and the reverse shows a martyred Saint. You can search more of the National Trust collections and objects online at http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/.  Further items from the collection to follow shortly…

Mid 16th century gold pendant.


Flint Cottage is a Grade II listed  cottage in Boxhill, Surrey.  The cottage gets its name as it was constructed from flint rubble and dates from the early 19th century.

 There has been a lot written about Flint Cottage as it was the home of the Victorian novelist and poet George Meredith from 1889-1909. Meredith received many literary friends like J.M Barrie, Robert Louis Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling who were all inspired by the local scenary at Boxhill. 

However, this project focuses on the collection which was given to the National Trust in 1945 by a family who later lived in the cottage.  Mrs Violette Wood gave the cottage to the Trust as a memorial to her late husband, Ralph Wood. Mr Wood  had played an important role within the local community as he was the Chairman for the Boxhill Committee and they had conveyed substantial amounts of land to the Trust.

Front of Flint Cottage

After Mrs Wood’s death her brother, Colonel M. Ruffer lived in Flint Cottage until his death in 1958, when the collection was given to the Trust. The items are currently kept in storage. So this project will allow an insight into the care and work which is given to objects which are not on display.


Please note that the cottage is a tenanted property and not open to the public.

I am currently on a year-long placement at the National Trust funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to learn new skills in Collections Management. You can find out more about the scheme and placements at http://yourfutureyourhands.org.uk/. I am based at Polesden Lacey in Surrey and am also managing the trainee Face book page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/National-Trust-Passport-to-your-Future/146388448801831. As part of the placement, I am undertaking a personal project which I can work on throughout my time with the National Trust. My project is aiming to bring to life the collection from Flint Cottage, which is a small property that is closed to the public. I want this Blog to showcase the beautiful and previously unseen objects which are currently in storage. 

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