Tuesday, 17 May 2011

And No Bird Sings

Such was the popularity of Potter's Museum in the small Sussex village of Bramber that, by the end of the nineteenth century, it became necessary to extend the platforms at the railway station in order to accommodate the longer trains required to carry the increasing number of visitors and day trippers. Less than a hundred years later, it was all but forgotten.

Born in 1835, Walter Potter spent much of his lifetime creating his museum of taxidermy. Built around his first major tableau of 'The Original Death and Burial of Cock Robin' [now preserved in the Booth Museum of Natural History in Hove], Potter went on to create an extraordinary, if somewhat macabre, collection of tableaux in which not only birds but puppies, kittens, rats, rabbits, mice, et al featured in a series of scenes from grand weddings to tea parties, from schoolrooms to police raids, from croquet to cricket.

Today the collection is dispersed and we, certainly, have none of it. What we do have, and mostly dating from Victorian times, is a number of cases and glass shades housing specimens of birds, the smallest a canary

a shade containing a canary sits alongside other birds on a table in the drawing room

and the largest, which actually dates from the mid 1950s, a heron.

the heron at home in our Brighton 'rooms'

Exotic birds, from faraway places and warmer climes, have a place in the dining room where a large case of colourful specimens originating from, we are told, Australia sits

a colourful case of 'foreign' birds in the dining room

within calling distance of a parrot on the opposite side of the room, no doubt once a much loved companion.

a nineteenth century green parrot

Not to everyone's taste, these birds represent a time and a practice which has, very largely, disappeared into history. What was once considered as the height of fashion is now regarded, outside of a museum, with a degree of disdain.

an Edwardian pot plant stand holds a single shade in the drawing room

Rather than something we particularly espouse, they are but a small part of the eclectic mix with which we have furnished our homes. And having lived with them for so many years, we should not choose to be parted.

But just occasionally, as in remembering Potter's now far flung tableaux, we look at the lone seagull held captive in our Front Hall in landlocked Hungary and wonder,

a seagull alone in the Front Hall
Does he dream of seaweed and scavenging on some distant shore?


  1. I used to love the little Bramber museum (remember the four legged chick?). As for your seagull; probably the best place for it!

  2. It is not surprising that a Victorian natural history museum will not be much talked about today, for the very reasons you cited. I didn't know Potter's name, nor did I know of his Sussex museum (in a pub, no less).

    But what is fantastic, and should be known, is the Victorian passion for his 10,000 stuffed animals. Can you imagine special coach trips being arranged for the customers? Even more amazingly, you noted an extension to the Bramber station being built for Potter's customers. Today you would have to be a famous rock star or soccer star to earn that sort of attention!

  3. Dear Jane and Lance, a very intersting post as always. I have to say that I am not very keen on these things. I remember seeing a glass case in an antique shop in York with little mice in clothes having a tea party. I also did work in a house in Nortern Ireland with a Tiger in the sitting room. I suppose it's whatever floats your boat. However I do think they are very useful for educational purposes in a Museum. I hope I haven't offended you? Love Linda x

  4. Cro Magnon:
    We too remember Potter's Museum from childhood but cannot recall the four legged chick. But there were many, many oddities - not all of them particularly pleasant.

  5. Hels:
    It was Potter's grandson who finally closed the museum in Bramber,in the 1970s, when the contents were removed for a while to Jamaica Inn in Cornwall. Thereafter, they were sold by auction and dispersed.

  6. Flowers on my table:
    Linda, we are not in the least offended by your comment. Many of our friends also have misgivings about our collection, which for the most part we have inherited.

    As for the Tiger....oh, how we should love it and have the perfect spot in our hall just waiting.

  7. I can certainly understand not wanting to part with something that has become part of your lives, whether fallen into disrepute or not. My father bought a lighted tableau of a couple of ducks in a faux marshy setting. It was the mid-60's and we didn't think anything negatively about it at the time. Times have changed, but our collections don't have to.

  8. Teresa Evangeline:
    Your comment really made us smile, and we can so easily imagine your ducks in their pretend habitat.

    Our collections do indeed seem to have a life of their own and are so filled with happy memories that we cannot bear to part with them. We are pleased that you identify with this too.

  9. Such a shame about the museum! I guess it satisfied that morbid sense of curiosity the Victorians had. Your collection is wonderful and your homes certainly sound like a treasure trove of all things fabulous!

  10. David Toms:
    You are quite right about the Victorians. Nowadays, people just do not have the same tastes and political correctness has wiped out so many of these rather strange pursuits.

  11. Dear Jane / Lance,

    What a most sensational blog entry I have enjoyed with my coffee this morning. While I have to admit to having paid little attention to taxidermy tableau’s in the past the brief history you have offered this morning is quite interesting.

    I am left awe struck by the pictured presentation of your own collection, whether through current acquisitions or collection by inheritance it would seem to be one of the preeminent residential collections. I can see where your fondness for it is founded.

    On a closing note this morning, should you both become tired of the heron I would be more then happy to volunteer to hold it in trust for you. I feel it would look spectacular in the galleria here at Fox Paw Lodge. Hoping you both have a wonderful day. - G

  12. My dears, what a fascinating posts. I used to have a green parrot like that when I was young. His name is called Pluto. He's such a clever bird because he speakss U English. For example, he never says "Pardon" which he considers very Non-U. His pronounciation of "Sorry" sounds like "Surrey". Yes, posh bird indeed. Of course, he got the inheritance from me. Well, it was until he started learning swear words in different languages from my brothers.

    People collect almost anything and everything, don't they. One of the wardens at the gallery the other day told me that her husband collects broken bicycles. But you know the fascinating thing about these birds is that once upon a time they would stay somewhere in the study of a gentleman or an academic as an object of curiosity. But their fashion is now considered outmoded. I often see these stuffed birds in church jumble sales and it breaks my heart to think that people have a heart to get rid of these sentimental, whimsical and idiosyncratic objects.

  13. Gary:
    No, with the greatest of regrets, but we cannot allow you to steal our heron!! He makes such a bold statement and is guaranteed to produce a resonse [positive or negative] from anyone who crosses his path. But, we love the sound of the 'galleria' at Fox Paw Lodge and do so hope that we may be able to see pictures of it at some point in your future posts.

    Now, we are all for coffee drinking at any time of the day or night but, Gary, are you still on track with the 'power gardening'?!!!

  14. So funny that you were posting a bird post right now! I can´t believe you are without a TV. Well, we never watch ours... except the kids. But I love movies.
    Have a wonderful day!

  15. A Super Dilettante:
    We do like the sound of Pluto and wonder what has become of him?!! After all, we understand that parrots, and especially well brought up ones, have the potential to live to a ripe old age.

    We are often intrigued by others' collections, but should wish to draw the line at old bicycles, although we have seen them look rather eye-catching when suspended in the boughs of a tree [as some friends of ours are inclined to do].

    P.S. Please let us know the whereabouts of the jumble sales in which taxidermy specimens are being sold inexpensively. At auction, they rarely go for a song!!!

  16. Kristin H:
    We are reluctant to say this....but there are cinemas!!!

    We do hope that you are having a good week. We so enjoyed your latest post.

  17. I remember on my only trip to Oxford, seeing a stuffed dodo bird in the museum there. I was fascinated! Since it is extinct now, it was very cool to see the actual bird. I am very glad that it has fallen out of vogue though. I would hate to see them in thrift shops as common as doilies and silver tea sets.

  18. Mermaid Gallery:
    We much enjoyed your comment which made us laugh. Some days, it does seem to us that we live in a museum, but, thankfully, not with doilies. Silver tea sets, however,......we feel another collection coming on!

  19. One adores taxidermy, and has a number of examples of it at Darlington House. My favorite is a rather scrofulous squirrel under a dome that I featured on my own blog a while back. I also have a number of heads and numerous sets of horns mounted on the walls, both in the main house and in outbuildings. My rule in acquiring them is that they must be of an age that they would have long-expired under natural circumstances. I have a clear conscience in acquiring taxidermy that was done long ago.

  20. I enjoyed your interesting post and learning about Potter's museum even though I am a little bit sqeamish about taxidermy.
    There is a rather moth eaten tableaux entitled 'Who killed Cock Robin' in a small local museum and as a child I was both horrified and fascinated every time I saw it.

  21. An unusual and interesting collection, but, sorry, not for my taste...

  22. Reggie Darling:
    We are so pleased to know that you share our fondness for taxidermy and could not agree more about only collecting specimens that are long dead. Our most recent example, the heron, was in fact an educational teaching exhibit, once having pride of place in the Biology laboratory of a Midlands school.

    We shall look back for the 'scrofulous squirrel' and do hope to see more of your collection in future posts.

  23. Just happened upon your blog and will certainly look in again. But how do you live in Budapest and Brighton? Half the week there and half the week here in the UK? Or one of you in Budapest and one in Brighton? Isn't travel tar'some, as Georgie Pilson would've said in the Mapp & Lucia books by E F Benson?
    Seriously, love the taxidermy post and also, looking down, the doll's house post. Perhaps you have seen the book by Kevin Mulvany and Susie Rogers, Magnificent Miniatures? They create the most wonderful reproductions of some of the world's fascinating buildings - Versailles, Brighton Pavilion, Sans Souci, Hampton Court Palace and many others.
    Margaret P

  24. Bluebell:
    We do understand your feeling squeamish about taxidermy since, although we reckon to be of strong stomachs, some examples have, in the past, made us squirm. However, as children, we enjoyed being, as you say, both intrigued and horrified simultaneously!

    We understand that the original 'Cock Robin' is now in the Booth Natural History Museum in Hove, which is where we last saw it. Perhaps there are others?

  25. Dona:
    We quite understand. Some collect garden gnomes......each to his own, say we!!

  26. the seagull's my favourite, he looks like he's preparing to go into space.

  27. Galant:
    Wherever we are, we are together! We spend most of our time in Budapest, which we consider home, and perhaps two weeks in every few months in Brighton.

    No, we have not heard about the Magnificent Miniatures book, but are sure that we should enjoy it. We shall look it up forthwith.

    Yes, travel is indeed tiresome since we do not like to fly and the train is so very complicated. Quite often we travel by bus which does go door to door but it takes 27 hours!

    We have looked you up but you do not seem to have a blog. Please do tell us if this is not the case as we should love to follow your writing.

  28. Lulu LaBonne:
    Yes, we are fond of the seagull too. Perhaps if the shade is removed, he will take off!!

  29. wow...how lucky am I that you did indeed stumble upon me. I can only guess you came from “Home”? Thank you so much for your visit and comment..I shall follow you as well as you seem like such interesting company. My husband is English so I am bilingual and can understand what you are taking about totally.
    I have been to Brighton many a time while shopping over there for antiques...a fun, lively town.. So visit again and often. your blog is wonderfully entertaining.

  30. I love the little village of Bramber, and often cycle there on fine days, especially along the Downs Link way.

    I'm also completely delighted that you have a lone Seagull, sitting proud and dare I say guarding the Front Hall all the way over there in Hungary.

    Long may he stay.

  31. Beatnheart:
    Yes, you are right, we did find you via 'Home', and we so enjoyed your lively and eclectic writing.

    Thank you so much for signing up as a Follower and we are delighted that you have found our blog of interest. We look forward to continuing the dialogue in future posts.

  32. Jason Shaw:
    We agree completely about Bramber, although having neither the bicycles nor the required energy, we have never cycled there.

    We can but imagine what our seagull in his glass case might make of the wheeling hordes of his fellows that circle our heads in Brighton.....

  33. My dears, I think I saw taxidermy in the church jumble sales in one year in Isle of Man. It was labelled as "stuffed birds", I know it's very crude way of putting it. There is a place in Isle of Man called Jurby Junk. 2 big warehouse filled with outmoded articles and millions of books. You should visit there at some point because they would have things like that.

    Have you ever seen a french film by Jacques Rivette called La Belle Noiseuse? It's quite a challenging French film about an artist relationship with his muse. Anyway, Jane Birkin plays a languid, sex starved heroine and wife of the artist (played by Michel Piccoli). They live in an enormous chateau. Jane Birkin plays a taxidermist dissecting some rare birds at the top of the chateau in the film. Highly recommended.

    PS. I believe Pluto is still alive but he went to live with the monks at the monastery. He's happy there (three meals a day and no talking, so do you wonder?) I remember the monks used to take him out of his cage and gave him a shower.

  34. A Super Dilettante [again]:
    How lovely to hear from you once more and how kind of you to take the trouble of pointing us in the direction of several warehouses full of collectables that we can give good homes to!!Previously, we thought the Isle of Man to be only good for motorcycles, a topic in which we have little interest.

    No, we do not know of 'La Belle Noiseuse', although as you know we enjoy the cinema hugely. From your beautiful description, it sounds [as indeed it is] deliciously French. Always a great deal happening but, in our experience, very little that one fully understands!!

    We are delighted to learn that Pluto is in safe hands. But which monastery and where? As Alice probably said, "curioser and curioser....."

    P.S. Any luck in finding Mr. Right with your trolley dash through the supermarket?

  35. Oh I have to say that Heron is amazing! I always feel they are just beautiful creatures!

    Art by Karena

    Come and enter my New Giveaway from Serena & Lily! You will love it!

  36. Karena:
    We are so pleased that you like the heron. When they are alive and stealing fish, they are often not in everyone's good books!

  37. Your post reminded me of the "one that got away" a few months ago....a 19th century kingfisher in a simple black box...its iridescent feathers were beautiful.
    I regret not buying it even more now!
    Julie x

  38. The Cloth Shed:
    Oh, Julie, we should have loved a kingfisher for they are such beautiful birds and the feathers do, as you say, really shine. And, we suspect, they are not easily come by.

  39. I do not distain...I delight! How lucky you are to have such a wonderful collection. It may be very un-PC of me, but I agree with Reggie: specimens that would be long gone anyway are totally OK (and I envy him his squirrel, as I do your marvelous birds). Makes me think fondly of the gigantic bison that resided (and may still) at the Buffalo Museum of Science. As a child, I marveled at it, as well as the huge dioramas that were filled with stuffed things. Would that I could have experienced Potter's Museum. Sigh.

  40. Elizabeth Rose Stanton:
    Well, Elizabeth, words almost fail us [a most unusual occurrence] when we consider the bison! We can picture it now....standing at our hall door ready to greet guests and, no doubt, frighten away the unwelcome visitor. Perhaps the rather aptly named Buffalo Museum might wish to trade it in? We have a rather motley fox[complete with small bird in mouth] or a boar's head with which we could enter into negotiations!!!

    What, dear Elizabeth, do you think of our chances?!!!

  41. Your posts are always so interesting and informative. While taxidermy is not my cup of tea, your glass cases of birds are beautiful works of art. A glass case of a rat, well that would be another thing.

    Thank you for sharing your treasures with us.

  42. Starting Over...:
    Well, rest assured that we are in complete agreement over the rat. Indeed, a rat inside the house glass caged or otherwise would not, in our view, for a happy time make!!

    Thank you so much for your comment which really made us smile.

  43. I wonder if you have ever visited the Powell-Cotton Museum at Quex Park, nr. Birchington, Kent. It houses a collection of trophies gathered by the young Percy Powell-Cotton in the late 19th C from trips he made to the wildest areas of northern India,Tibet, & Africa. It contains huge dioramas of scenes of African and Asian animal life which are unequalled in the UK for their size and quality. Some of the scenery and backdrops were built by theatre set-dressers to provide the illusion of vast, wild landscapes. It is non PC today. However, the collection is of considerable importance to scholars from a range of different disciplines, physical anthropology, ecology, comparative anatomy, developmental biology and genetics................Rosemary

  44. Hello Jane and Lance... an unusual and fascinating post.
    I rather like your collection with the seagull and Australian collection being of particular interest. The Oz birds look very exotic. But it's the heron which wins the show for me. He's just so graceful! As you say, what a statement with which to welcome guests!

  45. Anonymous-Rosemary:
    No, we have not heard of Quex Park or the Powell-Cotton Museum, but this sounds exactly the kind of place which would interest us hugely. When we are next in England we shall certainly arrange to visit.

    The dioramas sound to be spectacular and must, we imagine, work particularly well in setting off the exhibits to great effect.

    We are thrilled that you have brought what sounds to be such a fantastic collection to our attention and cannot wait to investigate it for ourselves.

  46. Craig:
    We are so pleased that you like the collection. And, yes, the heron is a favourite of ours too. The size is impressive and the monochromatic tones are lovely. Sadly, not all our guests are equally impressed!!

  47. Dear Jane and Lance,
    How lovely to meet you and it's thanks to Edith for the introduction. Oh how I miss Edith and her wonderful posts. If you see her, say hello and tell her that I often think of her when I am in my garden.
    Regarding your glass domes, I actually LOVE them. We have always lived in old houses, our present one is late Victorian and we have been here for 26 years. When we first moved here it was very 'the thing' to decorate in the Victorian/Edwardian style and I was always on the look-out for glass domes with anything in them. I think that you have some fine specimens. I am probably in the minority of people that like them but, I do !!
    Thank you so much for your lovely comment and I look forward to getting to know you both. XXXX

  48. Jacqueline:
    We are, as you may imagine, delighted that you too like the birds in their cases and glass domes, and thank you so much for your very generous comment.

    How wonderful to have a late Victorian house, and one which you have been in for a long period of time. We do love the sense of continuity which comes through being in a house over many years. Before our move to Budapest [and Brighton] we lived and gardened in Herefordshire for just over 25 years.

    We are indeed in touch with Edith and will most certainly pass on your very good wishes. And we are so pleased to have discovered your own blog which is, well, perfect!

    We too will look forward to staying in touch. Thank you so much for becoming a Follower.

  49. Mmmm. I like Mr Heron and Mr Seagull. But I'm not too sure if I'd like to live with them. Funny to think those were once living creatures, flapping about the air and water.

    We see items like this at auctions, from time to time, and once my husband even bid on a large seagull in a case - but we lost out. I think I was relieved. :)

    Also just noticed your Budapest drawing room - it's a beautifully decorated space.

  50. Wendz:
    We quite understand where you are coming from and we are not at all sure that we would go out and buy any of them now. It is just that they have been part of our lives for so long, we have become attached. Yes, as you say, strange to think that they were once very much alive!

  51. I bet he does! He looks lovely where he is though.

    I love birds. I plan to do a post about them sometime soon!

    Thankyou so much for visiting my little blog and leaving such a beautiful comment. You have made my day!

    I am glad that you will visit again. I will visit you also - it sounds like you have a lot of fun getting out and about. I look forward to reading about your adventures.

    Stephie x

  52. Dear Jane and Lance, apologies for not visiting for a while I'm woefully behind on blog reading, just catching up now.

    I'm not big on anything dead. My friend is a huge taxidermy fan. He favours rather moth eaten Victorian furry animals with wonky eyes. Some of them are very funny.

    There's some of his collection here

    Your birds however are rather beautiful. I hope all's well with you both xx

  53. Stephie B:
    We are thrilled that you plan to post about birds, live ones we assume(!), and will much look forward to it.

    We are delighted to have found your blog and are so pleased to be in touch. Thank you for becoming a Follower.

    Yes, we do enjoy our lives divided between Brighton and Budapest. In this way there is always something happening!!

  54. Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted:
    No apologies are necessary or needed. We totally understand, even after such a short time, the difficulty of keeping up with everything and everybody. Blogging could so easily become a 24/7 occupation!

    Thank you so much for providing the link. We shall certainly follow it up. At present our animals are limited to a boar's head and a fox!!

  55. Well isn't this interesting? What a strange, yet beautiful collection! I personally prefer live birds, having two cockatoos at home. But this is surely the next best thing! And they don't scream or make a mess. :)

    Thank you for sharing this most wonderful post. I know that at the ROM, there is a large, very colorful collection of birds, right down to the tiny hummingbird.


  56. Thanks for your comment. I thought you had previously lived in the Marches area. We visited a garden near Leominster once (?Arrow) that I believe was designed by you? It's a lovely area. We used to live in Brighton in the late 60s, in a flat on the seafront near a huge hotel the name of which escapes me. Stuffed animals? Hm, not sure - but you certainly have some fine specimens! My other half has just written a book that might interest you - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fifty-Plants-Changed-Course-History/dp/0715338544. Enjoy your week. Abby

  57. Kasia:
    Like you, we much prefer birds to be alive but these, as you know, are long dead and at least we still have the pleasure of their vibrantly coloured feathers.

    Your own cockatoos sound wonderful and such fun to have. Perhaps you could post on them? We have very much missed your posts recently.

    The ROM sounds most interesting - just our kind of thing!!

  58. Vintage Tea Time:
    Yes, indeed, we were at Arrow Cottage for over twenty-five years. Now absolutely nothing remains of the garden [the entire two acres bulldozed] but we have never been back!

    How amazing that you once lived in Brighton. Our 'rooms', as we refer to them, are also on the seafront and, facing SW, we have the most wonderful sunsets.

    We have looked up Bill Laws' book which we should certainly find of interest. We shall seek it out when we next return to the UK. It is so good to be in touch with you, and we shall very much hope to welcome you here again.

  59. Hello Jane and Lance,

    You are right, this is not the taste of everybody. But, i like this kind of objets. Right now, I create a curiosity cabinet at my house.


  60. Maison de Lin:
    We are delighted that you like the taxidermy specimens too. Whatever one may think of them, one cannot help but admire the skill of their creators.

    Your cabinet of curiosities sounds wonderful. We hope that we shall be permitted a peek in due course!

    Enjoy your day!

  61. lovely birds. i love the way that the rooms are decorated! seems like very lovable interiors! birds are somehow so nice, in porcelain, in figures in every form..

  62. Akissfromthepast:
    How very kind. We are so pleased that you share our enthusiasm. And, as you say, birds are lovely whatever their form.

  63. I love the picture of the platform being extended. Rats, really?! I mean they ARE clever. But on tableaux?

  64. Hello Paula:
    Indeed, what popularity to require an extension to the railway station platform!

    Yes, one tableau did actually depict rats dressed as police and making a police raid - on what, exactly, we can no longer remember.

  65. I just love to read through your comments as well as your posts, so interesting and funny and your reply's so beautifully written. So sad about your work at Arrow Cottage being bulldosed, no wonder you haven't been back. Thankyou so much for your comments. I am on the lookout now for interesting carrier bags. So glad you are having fine weather, it's quite cold and windy here. Lots of love , Linda x

  66. Flowers on my table [again]:
    Linda, what a very kind and generous comment. And, we are so enjoying your blog too.

    We were, as you may imagine, rather surprised that anyone should wish to raise the complete garden to the ground. We reckon that this must have wiped a considerable sum from the value of the property since the whole place looks like a building site now.

    Your carrier bag idea is brilliant, but affording the items which come in the prettiest bags would,for us, be the challenge!

    Sorry to say, but wall to wall skies of blue here!!!

  67. Wow! I was briefly looking at these, and got distracted and closed the browser. I read your comments and came back--I thought they were framed art! Wow! There is a huge period Victorian display of stuffed birds from all over the world in a museum near by me. Centre Hill Mansion in Petersburg, VA. Check it out!

    ~Mikey @ Shabby French Cottage

  68. Mikey@ Shabby French Cottage:
    In a way, we suppose that our birds resemble framed art, and we rather like thinking of them in that way. The Museum you give details of sounds most interesting and we shall 'Google' it to find out more.

  69. Ha There! New Blog friends and followers. Thanks for dropping by. I have domes with birds at My Old Historic House. Love them. Please go back and look them up. I am so thrilled we found each other. Richard

  70. Well I understand the're not everybody's cup of tea but I have always had a facination with them and I think your seagull is lovely x

  71. Richard Cottrell:
    We are equally delighted to welcome you for we were so excited to have discovered your blog, and will certainly go back to My Old Historic House to look up your domes of birds. We find them fascinating, as we do much Victoriana.

    We shall look forward to staying in touch.

  72. The fishermans cottage:
    How really splendid that you are intrigued by them too. Yes,the seagull is one of our favourites, closely followed by the heron. Thank you so much.

  73. Just one glint of moonlight bouncing off the eye of your very alert-looking seagull would be enough to spook me in the middle of the night. So, I am happy to admire your collection from a distance.

    The taxidermists' art is not yet dead, however. Some years ago, our local museum was about to move into larger premisses. At about this time, the Curator's favorite horse died. She then took the unusual step of having it stuffed and added it to a tableau of the town's military history. Now, I call that macarbre. Strangely enough, very few visitors seem to be aware that this powerful looking creature was once the real thing.


  74. Anna at the Doll House:
    Anna,how we have laughed at your most amusing comment! Not, however, at the thought of the spooky seagull...we may just see him in a different light, so to speak, from now on!!

    As for the stuffed horse...well, in our very first post we made mention of Lord Berners [our role model in many ways] who had a 'Mad Boy'. For entertainment, the said 'Mad Boy' would ride a horse into the drawing room. That is how we should like to see a horse in our house rather than in a 'still life'!!!! But, come to think of it, perhaps you find that macabre too?!! We do hope not.

  75. Dear Jane and Lance,

    What an interesting collection of birds you have. I am not really sure whether I like them or not. I don't think I would want them in my house, but I can imagine the birds looking good in yours. When I look at the photo's of your interior, I think the birds fit in perfectly. They make your house unique and give it a special atmosphere.

    It reminds me of the butterflies my grandfather used to collect when he lived in the East Indies. Sadly his collection got lost in the second world war. He told me lots of stories about his hunts and these beautiful animals. They were very special to him.

    You asked me about the gardens we plan to visit. We are not really sure yet, but I think Christopher Lloyd's garden in Great Dixter is definetely one of them. I hope to visit Brigton too!

    Have a good weekend.

    Lieve groet, Madelief

  76. Madelief:
    We recognise that birds in shades are not to everyone's liking, but we think that you are right when you say that context is perhaps significant when considering the placement of anything which can be considered decorative. In a C19 apartment, surrounded by Victorian and Edwardian pieces, the birds, at least to us, seem quite at home.

    If you do visit Brighton, we suggest that you do not miss the Duncan Grant exhibition in the Museum and Art gallery where a very acceptable lunch can also be obtained. Great Dixter has never been a favourite with us, we are afraid to say. We are rather more Sissinghurst types!!

  77. An amazing collection of birds! Maybe I wouldn't like to keep them in my home but I would really find interesting to see them closely with my own eyes:)

  78. How interesting! I must admit that I do dislike the stuffed animal exhibits in natural history museums, however, nowadays we have the luxury of well-appointed zoos where the animals are kept humanely in natural enclosures approximating their native habitat and we alo have excellent documentaries to watch.
    In Victorian times a stuffed animal was often the only way one could see an animal from distant lands "up close" so to speak.

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  80. Sihirli Yazilar:
    We do so agree with you that not everyone would want to live with them. On the other hand, we do not mind although we do not have any in our bedroom so do not wake up to them!

  81. Nicholas V:
    Yes, as you say, one of the original purposes for stuffing animals and birds is, happily, no longer necessary.

    On the subject of zoos, the Budapest zoo is an outstanding example of Art Deco architecture and well worth seeing for the buildings alone.

  82. Ariel:
    We are so pleased to have discovered your blog and will look forward to finding out more about Bucharest which we very much hope to visit in the future. And thank you so much for your offer of assistance.

    We have been to the parts of Romania which border Hungary and like it very much.

  83. I await the tawse. Not only did I spell your name incorrectly, I stuck an apostrophe in too. So sorry will fix it when I get back to the computer this morning.

  84. Tabitha:
    As the only HATTATTs [four ts] in Britain, we take it personally!!

    It was so kind of you to provide the link which we much appreciate and do hope that you are having the most wonderful time.

  85. Used to see those on Cash in The Attic and marvel at them. Afraid the only stuffed bird that appeals to me is a turkey on the table!

  86. DearHelenHartman:
    We found this comment highly amusing.

    Yes, we love roast turkey too....and chestnut stuffing....and cranberry sauce.....and goose fat roast potatoes. Christmas will be here before we know it!!

  87. What an interesting collection! One of my friends, a biology professor, had those taxidermy birds standing around without a glass cover. To be honest, they made a bit of a strange impression.

  88. Olga:
    We must confess, Olga, that quite a number of our things tend to make a rather odd impresssion on other people. We are sure that we should like your biology professor.....but stuffed animals without their shades get terribly dusty!!

  89. what a fabulous collection, my friend was just given a little stuffed Finch which I think will be the begining of a collection......fabulous home too!!

  90. Young at Heart:
    We are so pleased that you like our birds too. One little Finch will surely lead to another!!

  91. Could not believe we have found another taxidermy lover,had to call my HB to tell & show him your post,so we are not the only 'odd' couple,relief.....ooops sorry no way do I mean you are odd!!
    We have around 36 birds,including my HB's favourite Bittern,he had to wait 4yrs before our taxidermist could find one that had died a natural death.
    Taxidermy is alive and well in the UK,but the modern ones use different preservative chemicals to the Victorian arsenic.It is quite legal,the taxidermists' have to be registered with DEFRA (formerly DOE)and all specimens must have died a natural causes,also they are all numbered.
    We had inherited some old specimens but they became infected with insects they were enclosed in glass domes but maybe not air-tight??
    My most loved one is my robin he flew into our window poor fellow and died,he now keeps me company on my kitchen window sill looking out at all his feather friends.

    Yes, you must see the collection at Quex park,also Norwich Castle & St Michael Mount Castle have some great collections. Ida

  92. Ida:
    How absolutely splendid all of this is and we are so thrilled to learn of your 'odd' collection. Magnificent!

    And how very interesting what you say about taxidermy in Britain today and the need to be registered with DEFRA [about whom we know much as our two cats had to be 'exported' as live animals when first we came to Hungary]. It is reassuring to know that the industry is properly monitored. Your robin sounds a delight.

    We shall certainly try to visit the places you recommend when next in the UK. Calke Abbey, we seem to recall, has many Victorian cases of birds and animals.

    Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to write.

  93. I think your collection of birds are lovely and historical, that being said, I wouldn't allow Mr.24 to hang his prized deer head in our lovely new living room...I just couldn't, he had done the deed himself (the deer's named 'Limpy', it needed to be done) and those big eyes staring out at me everyday would haunt me...if he was maybe 100 years old, that might be another story!
    Your birds truly are beautiful and colorful, they are a treasure...and I'm sure your seagull would much rather be gracing your entrance than having become a long forgotten dinner for some ancient assorted sea creatures!
    xo J~

  94. Hello again both

    You're right. These items are not to everyone's taste, and I don't think I would want one or more in my living room but they are strangely fascinating.

    My boys would love them, as they loved the Natural History Museum when we visited a couple of years ago.

  95. This was a fascinating post, Jane and Lance, thank you. There's a taxidermy show my husband and I enjoy watching; it's about a shop in Alaska and how they rise to whatever challenge the folks bring them. I believe the show is called "Stuffed in Alaska"...very interesting.

  96. 24 Corners:
    You are right! It is one thing to have birds and animals which are long dead, and which one never saw alive anyway, and quite another to have a 'Limpy' staring down at one. Like you, we should find the sad eyes, which we knew in life, very disturbing.

    We wonder where Mr. 24 has placed him?!!

  97. Bluestocking Mum:
    We do agree that they are not everyone's idea of home decoration and, as we have said to others, we are not entirely certain that we should go out and buy them today!

    But young people are, as you say, always fascinated by such things.

  98. Thistle Cove Farm:
    'Stuffed in Alaska' sounds most interesting, and a little odd, and is probably exactly the kind of thing we should find ourselves watching if we had a television.

    There is also, we have discovered, a taxidermy shop here in Budapest.

  99. Missing Edith's blog, so delighted to have found yours, like hers so full of unusual information and erudition! Belinda x

  100. Belinda @ Wild Acre:
    How very generous and kind of you! We too are delighted that you have found and followed us. Thank you.

    It was, in fact, Edith who encouraged us to start our blog.

  101. These are absolutely stunning!
    My brother brought me back a small stuffed bird from Deyrolle a few years back. I love it and it sits happy immortalized under a glass cloche in the vicinity and within sight of two caged but very much alive parakeets.
    To the naysayers who find the scenario morbid I would reply, but it's so very British!
    Soldier on in good health dear ones, Alcira


  102. Jane and Lance, thankyou so much for your comments. I have to say that when I open my e-mails and see that you have left me a message I get a bit giddy. Your remarks are so encouraging and helpful, so thankyou. Yes please I would love to see a post on your "pantry", how very exciting! You may certainly copy me on the artichokes, or indeed anything you fancy, I would consider it a great compliment. So glad the sun is beaming down on you, lots of love Linda x

  103. Alcira Molina-Ali:
    Hurrah! We of the lovers of stuffed birds must unite and stand firm. Yours from Deyrolle sounds perfect.

    And even more so is the thought of your two live Parakeets which must be such fun to have about - and very stylish too!

  104. Flowers on my table [again]:
    You are so very, very kind and generous, Linda, and what must now be said is that it is your interesting, varied and wonderfully presented blog which gives to us so much inspiration.

    It is lovely that we have found each other [and with the shared interest common to us both] and we look forward to many, many meetings up in the blogosphere.

    And the artichokes are, we must confess, already copied!!

  105. dear jane and lance,

    your comments to me just intrigue me no end. your manner of speech is so beautiful, and like edith's so spot on.

    i as a vegan cannot bear animal cruelty of any kind, but the fact that these are inherited and quite beautiful pieces make me like them quite a bit. in other words, i understand the collection.

    i also, just read the previous post and i'm so happy for the outcome. just yesterday i learned a very, very dear friend of mine has ovarian cancer and my world is spinning right now. such a struggle ahead.

    have a wonderful weekend you two.


  106. The Gardener's Cottage:
    We are thrilled to see that you have joined as a Follower and appreciate your comment and good wishes so very much.

    We recognise that taxidermy may pose some difficulties for people but these specimens are all long dead and the whole process is very strictly controlled these days.

    We are so very sorry to hear of the illness of your friend. In our own experience we know that good friends at these times are so incredibly valuable in terms of support. We are sure that you will be just the kind of friend that she needs and are thoughts are with you both.

  107. Dear Jane and Lance,

    Thank you so much for the positive feedback for my article. I am very glad that you like it.
    I read all your articles and it is very intresting and very detailed. I like it very much.

    I wish you a pleasant weekend,too!

  108. Ariel [again]:
    How lovely to hear from you. We find your posts fascinating as they cover such a wide and varied range of topics.

    You are most kind about our blog and we are delighted that we have found each other.

  109. Thank you for following my blog Jane and Lance Hattatt~
    this post is so interesting and too inspired me!! :D

    I hope you all have a great weekend~ see ya xx


  110. Oh, how glad I am that you found me which in turn enabled me to find you. I have at last been able to take some time and read your blog thoroughly and have found it so interesting. I am in awe of your knowledge and writings. If I can make my own even half as interesting I shall be proud!

    By the way, I love your birds. I have a mannequin with a dead mink around it's neck in my kitchen (which doesn't go down too well with some visitors)!!

    May Lance's remission remain so for many years.

  111. Gerald:
    We are so pleased that you have enjoyed the post and hope that we shall see you return again soon.

    Happy Weekend!

  112. Vintage Jane:
    Oh, Marina, we absolutely love the idea of the mannequin with the mink scarf in the kitchen However, should we do something similar [which we are now very tempted to do] it would have to be in another room as we are never to be seen in the kitchen.

    Thank you so much for all your good wishes. We have been so interested to read your most lively and engaging blog and shall return often.

  113. Dear Jane and Lance,

    What a wonderful and interesting post. It reminds me of years ago when a friend and I were traveling with our young daughter's (probably 2 or 3) and a woman told us about some animals at a shop that our children would surely enjoy...we had no idea what to expect. The collection was no where near as beautiful as yours, but a lesson for us all. I wish I could remember where we were at the time.

    Your profile is fascinating...what an interesting life you lead.


  114. Annie:
    We are so pleased that you have enjoyed the post and are thrilled to welcome you as a Follower.

    We know that as children we were facinated by taxidermy.....the more gruesome the better. But now, our tastes are for the less macabre.

    We think ourselves to be very fortunate dividing our time between Brighton and Budapest. Life is certainly never dull!!

  115. A very different thing from my china collection!

    Interesting and colourful, but surely rather unusual? Disdain? No, certainly not. That would be silly; a little eccentricity - even a lot - is always to be welcomed.

    I think you probably have a fair share of it.

  116. For its sheer size, does the heron freak you out a bit?

    I think I'm too queasy for such a hobby ...

  117. Such a marvelous story about Potters Museum, and your collection is wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing it!


  118. Love, love, love these! Especially the parrot- how fabulous!

  119. Friko:
    Mostly they have been inherited but having said that we really do like them and have to confess that the small canary, but many years ago now, was bought from an antique shop in Kenilworth.

    We shall say nothing of the fox and boar's head!

    Your china collection sounds most intriguing. A post, perhaps?

  120. Suze:
    Well, the heron is quite large.....but then it does, after all, make a statement!

    Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment.

  121. Jen of Country Weekend:
    Potter's Museum, visited so very many years ago, was, for a child, the most wonderful of places - full of intrigue.

    Perhaps today such a museum would stir up very different emotions.

  122. JWC:
    Clearly a man after our own heart. We are so pleased that you like them. Can one, we wonder, ever have too many?

  123. I had to laugh J&L...for we inherited a extraordinarily large duck, similar to your heron. It is stunning, with a beautiful hand painted scene in the background. Not only is it very large, it is very heavy and suits grand hunting rooms for which it was originally intended. It has been sitting in a crate in our garage thru three moves now. Last seen in Connecticut, it has missed gracing it's presence in Australia, New Zealand and England. Someday, we hope to have a home where it can come out and show it's true colours. :)

    Jeanne xx

  124. Jeanne:
    We should have your duck [the larger the better as far as we are concerned]out of the garage and into a prime position immediately. No matter if it looks a tiny bit out of place, we think that it would make a marvellous talking point.

    Whatever, it [the duck] is exceedingly well travelled but must be a nightmare to pack!

  125. Dear Jane & Lance...Limpy now resides in Mr. 24's office...which isn't in our home! Since it's his own business, he can put whatever he wants on the walls, so it's the perfect place for Limpy and they get to spend hours together every single day!
    xo J~

  126. 24 Corners:
    We are so pleased to hear that Limpy has, at last, found a good home!

  127. TCFO:
    This is most encouraging. Like you, we prefer them alive, but these, long dead, are quite fun!

  128. What an extraordinary collection. I am particularly attracted to the larger collection of birds from your dining room, which remind me of a Joseph Cornell shadowbox.

  129. Mark D. Ruffner:
    We are delighted that you like the bird collection, which has been part of our lives for many years now.

    As it happens, the case which you make particular mention of, was purchased on the pavement in the small town of Marlborough, Wiltshire, for the sum of £4. But that was a long time ago!!

  130. Hello, thank you for your help, unticking the stay signed in box seems to have done the trick.. phew! x

  131. The fishermans cottage:
    Thank you! We really have not done anything. It is such a worry when Blogger goes wrong!

  132. Well this was a most interesting post to read this afternoon. As a child, Grandma Dolly used to take me to a museum somewhere in Canada (not sure where). There was a huge stuffed moose as you entered that thrilled and terrified me.

  133. Dolly:
    Gosh, a stuffed Moose, now that really is a serious piece of taxidermy. We know what you mean about being intrigued and yet scared at the same time.......a usual state of affairs for us!!!!

  134. I would have loved that little museum. I'm a big fan of the charmingly macabre!

  135. Kim:
    The museum was an absolute Mecca for a small child where each case or tableau of stuffed animals and birds was even more thrilling than the last. All a bit macabre!


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