Friday, 26 September 2014

Old buildings and knitted knickers

I have a long-standing crush on old buildings, especially those dating back to the 14th and 15th century and in the summer we paid a visit to some local treasures.

Great Dixter, Northiam, East Sussex.  The original part of the house dates from the mid-15th century. When Nathaniel Lloyd bought it in 1910 he had a 16th century house moved from Kent and combined with the original building.  A third section was designed by Edwin Lutyens and added on.  It's probably better known for being the family home of Christopher Lloyd, gardener and garden writer, and for the beautiful garden he created but those photos are for another day.

Everything to the right of the porch is 15th and 16th century, everything to the left was designed by Lutyens and yes, the porch really is as wonky as it looks in the above picture! 

* * *

Ightham Mote, near Sevenoaks in Kent.  The oldest part of this moated Medieval manor house is almost 700 years old and when it was acquired by the National Trust in 1985 it was in a dilapidated state.  The Trust spent 15 years and £10 million to restore it and it is beautiful. 

This Victorian dog kennel in the courtyard is apparently the only Grade 1 listed kennel in the country. I don't know whether you can get a sense of proportion here, but it looks as though it was built for the Hound of the Baskervilles.

* * *

The cobbled streets of Rye, East Sussex.  I want to live here.

* * *

Rye is a great place if you like 'vintiquing' and we took the opportunity to have a good rummage. Surprisingly, I exercised quite a lot of self-control (unusual, I must have been out of sorts that day) and bought just the one item, this knitting book.

It doesn't look much on the outside but it's an absolute treasure.  There's no publication date inside but a quick google revealed it was published in 1941.  It's packed with patterns for just about everything for every member of the family with a mixture of wonderful photos and illustrations.

The women just pose and show off the clothing; the men, however, all seem to have been given an object to hold like a pipe ...

... or an axe ... as you do ...

With yarn rationing and prices, some of the designs were probably a little ambitious for war time knitters but there's a brilliant 'wool economies' section at the back on how to make yarn go further and lots of ideas for unravelling and remaking.  

Amongst patterns for the usual items, there are also patterns for nightdresses (I'm not convinced this would survive a night's sleep on me) ... 

... and undies ...

... yes, that is a knitted bra above.  The recommended material for these is silk, but for this apparently 'smart, warm and sensible' set below, the recommended material is two-ply wool - ooh, sounds itchy!

And of course you can knit some nice warm undies for your man too.

Control yourselves ladies!  I'm more than pleased to share the pattern if you're thinking about home-made Christmas presents :o)

Thank you for your lovely comments on my last post and welcome to new followers. 

Hope all is well out there ...
Jane xx


  1. Three incredibly beautiful places!! I love Igtham, but have not been to the other two, I love a Lutyens building though. So, what are you going to knit then, the dress or the undies!!! xx

  2. I'm rather peeved now I haven't the time to knit a pair for my husband. I think it would teach him nicely for laughing at me knitting! Especially if I invested in some really itchy wool. What a great find! I love visiting old buildings too, it gives you a real sense of history.

  3. Hello, lovely photos. I often visit Igtham Mote and have a photo of my 2 children standing in that very dog kennel!! Rye is another fave, especially cobbles tea shop for afternoon tea in their cosy back garden :) x

  4. I love all those beautiful places too, and enjoyed seeing your lovely photographs in this post. The knitting patterns are so amusing.......I wonder which you will be knitting?!
    Happy week ahead.
    Helen xox

  5. What an interesting post. I really enjoyed seeing all of these places in your photos, since I haven't had a chance to see them in person and may never be able to. I hope to visit England someday. The knitting is so interesting, I laughed at the ax photo because who just stands around swinging an ax over his head? Haha. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Those old houses are just gorgeous, so very English. I love wandering around buildings like that and exploring the gardens. The knitting book made me laugh...I have on old book with a pattern for a knitted bikini in it. Seriously, wool and water?! Not a good mix. x

  7. Lovely photos Jane! We are so lucky in this country to have many beautiful and wonderfully preserved historic buildings and towns, and living in this part of the world near you I have visited them and enjoyed them too. Rye particularly is a favourite of mine, and can never wander around without thinking of the 'busy morning shop and gossip sessions' of E.F Benson's Mapp and Lucia characters! We were married in nearby historic Winchelsea and had our reception just outside Rye, so have many memories here.
    And as for that knitting book! I suspect your family are quaking in their boots and will be having a worried and surreptious feel of their parcels under the tree this year!
    See you later for vintiquing in Otford!
    Gill xx

  8. I'd like to live in Rye too!

    I do have a copy of that book. And of each of the others in the series. Keep your eyes peeled for more, for a while those two ladies published one a year, and all are equally delightful :)