Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Willow Pattern

I have lots of Willow pattern stuff, I’m a sucker for it!

I can’t remember the first time I saw the design but I remember the first time I saw a Welsh dresser with the Willow pattern crockery on it. My aunt and uncle got a new council house way back in the ‘fifties and the first time I went to see it, I fell in love with their Welsh dresser.

When we bought our first home I knew I had to have one and had to collect the Willow pattern crockery to go with it. The first time my mother in law saw the dresser she said, “It’s old and looks second hand. Why didn’t you buy teak?” In the ‘sixties teak, chrome and glass were the latest trends. Everyone had them but I really disliked them! So trying to be polite I told her I preferred old fashioned furniture and that teak wasn’t my cup of tea. I’ve never regretted it, it’s still there, looking a little bit the worse for wear after nearly forty years. Just wish I could have bought the Ercol dresser but it was too big for the dining room we had then and much too expensive.

I looked at the different dinner services available to go with the dresser and there were two I liked, both in the traditional blue and white. Spode's Blue Italian was lovely and so was Wedgewood’s Willow. I decided on the Wedgewood, I preferred the Willow design, it was better known and I thought would be available to buy for years to come. They advertised that all their dinner services would be produced for fifteen years.

I gradually bought the Wedgewood Willow dinner service and decided that I wanted the pleasure of using it everyday. My Mam always had china she didn’t use. I suppose they didn’t have much before and after the War so they had to be very careful about their possessions. They never knew if they could replace them. She died before she was fifty and never had the pleasure of using it. So we used our Willow for about five years. Then, in their wisdom Wedgewood withdrew the design. Apart from the dinner plates (which I had lots of) I stopped using the service as I knew I wouldn’t be able to replace anything I broke.

Well it’s been sitting on and in the dresser for years and I think it’s time I started to use it again. My daughter and daughter in law don’t like traditional stuff so no point in keeping it for them. I might as well get the pleasure out of using it even if I break something. There’s always eBay!

I love the story of the Willow Pattern and I found a poem about it:

The Willow Pattern Poem

My Willow ware plate has a story,
Pictorial, painted in blue
From the land of tea and the tea plant
And the little brown man with a queue.

Whatever the food you serve, daughter
Romance enters into the feast,
If you only pay heed to the legend,
On the old china plate from the East.

Koong Shee was a mandarin’s daughter
And Chang was her lover, ah me,
or surely her father’s accountant
Might never wed pretty Koong Shee.

So Chang was expelled from the compound,
The lover’s alliance to break,
And pretty Koong Shee was imprisoned
In a little blue house by the lake.

The Doughty old mandarin reasoned
It was time that his daughter should wed,
And the groom of his choosing should banish,
That silly romance from her head.

In symbols the dress she should wear,
Her headband of scarlet lay waiting,
She should ride in a gold wedding chair.

He was busily plotting and planning,
When a message was brought him one day,
Young Chang had invaded the palace,
And taken his sweetheart away.

They were over the bridge when he saw them,
They were passing the big willow tree,
And a boat at the edge of the water,
Stood waiting for Chang and Koong Shee.

The furious mandarin followed,
The groom with revenge in his eyes,
But the little boat danced on the water
And travelled away with the prize.

But vengeance pursued to their shelter
And burned the pagoda, they say
From out of the flames rose the lovers
A pair of doves winging away.

They flew toward the western heaven
The pretty Koong Shee and her Chang
Or so says the famous old legend
From the land of the Yangtze Kiang.

I wouldn’t be one to deny it,
For the little blue dove and her mate
Forever are flying together
Across my Willow ware plate.


  1. My mother -in-law had Blue Willow and my sister-in law got it. love the Teapot.

  2. I have one piece of Willow ware - a small platter.
    I have an entire set of Royal Doulton "Kathleen", but my true love is stoneware.

    Charming poem, Winifred.


  3. Oh use it!!! It was made to be used and loved and cherished...a lovely story.

  4. My absolute favourite pattern, and I think I'm addicted to buying it ;)
    You are correct, about how beautifully it stands out on the old dark wood of a Welsh Dresser, it's a s if they were made for each other...
    Use it, I say..your wheetabix will taste better ;)

  5. Hhm just had a funny message saying the coment was undeliverable, and returned...
    But then I look up, and see it is posted...hmmm gremilins again ?

  6. I totally agree with your theory of using your china for everyday! The Blue Willow is beautiful and I loved the story behind it.

  7. I am a big fan of Wedgewood too and collected the Clio decorative range for years.I love Willow, that blue has always been a fave of mine.

  8. Your Welsh dresser is great...I can see why you liked/like it so. And blue and white dish patterns always cause me to turn my head. One of our first sets of dishs was a blue & white print stoneware. We used it for years. And wore it out eventually. Still, some of it is on display in the kitchen. An old and valued friend.

  9. Yes, I forgot to say, I enjoyed your poem too.

  10. I would use it often. It is very pretty. I have one odd place setting of it, and can't remember why I have it, or why I didn't continue it. I have always loved it. I also like your cabinet.

  11. I agree. It's meant to be used. Doesn't do you any good when you're no longer here, does it? Use it every day-especially that teapot.

  12. Both the dresser and the Willow are lovely Winifred. Enjoy using it - if you do break a piece you will almost certainly be able to replace it. A x

  13. Oh, I love the Blue Willow as well, and have a set. I don't use it very often, but love to see them displayed in my cabinet.

    That poem is charming.

    I enjoyed your post, Winifred. Have a great weekend.



  14. Willow ware is a favorite of mine. I actually love collectables and vintage things. Ours is the last generation and we will not be passing our family things to the next generation. They do not want Grandmother and Great Grandmother's lovely things. It breaks my heart. I tell everyone my home is decorated in early attic.

  15. I agree with Gaynor, use it! I have a beautiful set of porcelain dinnerware from Japan (Fukagawa) that my first husband purchased for me. I didn't realize what good taste he had. I was afraid to use it for years. "Crazy".
    I have broken a couple of pieces but it is a set for twelve. It is white with a platinum band, goes well with just about any plate that has white in it. Not that I have to worry I haven't had a sit-down dinner for more than 8 in years.

    My daughter just the other day asked me not to give her any of my dinnerware or collectables. "She said clutter" because she likes contemporary furniture and not a lot of stuff that has to dusted.

    I guess she is the smart one because it is a pain having to dust all my nicknacks. I guess when I move next I will be having a big garage sale!

  16. Lovely Willow ware. Very nice poem. Sorry I ahven't been around much lately, been very busy and I have found as I get older, it takes me longer to get one job accomplished. Right now supper/dinner is waiting for me to get it started. We usually eat around 5:15 or so. Have a great rest of the week.

  17. I'm sorry to hear your daughter and daughter in law are not fond of such a collection. They would have made a wonderful heirloom. Perhaps your grand daughter will enjoy them. Your service ware reminds me of some of the patterns I've seen while visiting the Niagra on the Lake area near where I live. I am sure it was a generational hand me down full of wonderful history. And I'm a sucker for any quality piece of wood furniture. We have a marvelous Mennonite community who handcraft all of their pieces. Pricey, but worth it.

  18. I have always been fascinated with the Willow pattern. Also, I hate chrome and teak.

    I had my mammo today.

    ~hippo hugs~

  19. I love the blue willow pattern and never knew why. I've picked up a few pieces here and there from yard sales, antique shops and goodwill shops. I collect teapots and teacups. I loved the poem. I knew there had to be some story!

  20. Gday Winifred. Love the willow pattern dinner ware. Its meant to be used and give pleasure while eating from it.
    OOOOHHH love the Welsh dresser just perfect for your dinner ware..

  21. I'm following your TV Addict blog (I'm the first, even though there's no post!) I just KNOW it's going to be good!


  22. Winnifred, I have a little Honest Scrap Award for you over at my blog. Come by and pick it up if you want to!

  23. Hi, love the name of your blog, I am a fellow procrastinator. At least you have done a blog - I've been p'g about that for years!

    I have a willow teapot that was my Nana's, and she used it for years, then it sat unused for 20 years till I took it out and started using it again 5 years ago. I loved every cup of tea I made in it as it always made me think of Nana, who died 13 years ago. And, it just seemed to make the best tea!
    Sadly, the cord of the vacuum got wrapped around it when my husband was vacuuming the kitchen about 6 months ago, and it shattered. I was pretty upset about it, but he superglued it back together very carefully and though it's unusable, it now sits on the kitchen windowsill and I see it every day and still think of Nana.
    So use it and love it I say, the monetary value of the stuff to me is nothing compared to the memories it evokes....and there's always superglue!


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