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.

My Singer 338!

Well here it is my very first sewing machine, the one I got for my 21st birthday in 1966! I know it cost my Mam  a lot to buy it for me...