Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich

This week I am telling in the wonderful Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich. Originally a Tudor hall it grew and developed as fashions changed and it is now a museum and gallery full of twists and turns, nooks and crannies, step ups and step downs and creaking floor boards. Lots of creaking floorboards! It is packed full of fantastic furniture stained with the dark hues of everyday use and touch. There are little rooms here and there, austere Tudor and Stuart portraits, their occupants sitting in judgement on all the meaner sort like me who pass by. There are all sorts and sizes of room, from rich men's closets to the scullery and kitchen where the meaner sort like me once turned spits and fetched water. It's a labyrinth because as fashions and tastes changed the house grew and in later times furniture and even whole building from elsewhere in Ipswich were absorbed into the structure. There is too much there to describe, from Georgian costume to Tudor bed warmers and cucking stools and so I have decided to focus on one object that caught my eye....

The joy of courtship...
Click on image to make larger

It's this small jug made in the late 18th century in the ceramics collection and it's subject reflects a major theme of many of the stories I tell. In truth I'm not really into ceramics, but this jug had a certain appeal because of my stories, namely the struggles between man and woman, husband and wife. Occasionally I have been challenged for telling such tales, but historically the subject had been a constant cause of both concern and jocularity. Clearly that's the case with the jug, for as it says...

When two fond fools together meet
Each look gives joy, each kiss as sweet
But Wed, how cold and cross they be
Turn upside down and then you'll see...

And then when you turn it upside down the message is complete!

The realities of Matrimony!

This is not an attack on men nor women, but simply a joke that makes people laugh and so hopefully lessens tension between men and women, husband and wife. Surely we all need a laugh every now and then!

Thanks to Caroline and all the staff and volunteers at the mansion house for looking after me so well and being so into storytelling!

No comments:

Post a Comment