Antique dining tables and Victorian dining chairs are just some of the stars of a new TV series tracing 800 years of domestic history. Called ‘If Walls Could Talk’, it is presented by the chief curator of the Historic Royal Palaces, Lucy Worsley,
The series focuses on various rooms in a typical period home, exploring how they changed over the centuries as different social patterns emerged. However, it’s not just Victorian dining chairs and antique desks. Lancashire viewers see Lucy getting actively involved; cooking a Mediaeval hedgehog, diving into (and drinking) freezing seawater, and washing Tudor sheets in human urine donated by a male accomplice (apparently, it was a good stain remover). Lucy also takes us into the Tudor bedroom, where we learn that only the very wealthy called afford to sleep in beds; for the lower to middle classes, it was a sack on the floor (hence the saying, “into the sack”).
Luckily, life was a little more refined by Victorian times. Lucy demonstrates how the Victorian “what not” came about. Parlours in Cumbria filled these antique cabinets to capacity with their material possessions, to show off to visitors. This was also the age when the celebrity home design guru first appeared, with housewives getting structured advice on how to polish their Victorian dining chairs, or show off their automated singing birds. The living room was the most taxed room in the house, and so kept for special occasions – just like today.
In Lancashire, antique dealers in Preston have antique dining tables which once graced everyday homes, brought to life in If Walls Could Talk.
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