At home with an Edwardian Seamstress – a visit to Petworth Cottage Museum

Pet worth Cottage Museum

Tucked away among the Victorian Villas is the Petworth Cottage Museum, it was originally an Estate Cottage of the grand Petworth House – it has been restored to how it was back in the Edwardian period – around 1910 when seamstress, Mary Cummings rented the house.

Petworth Seamstress Cottage

You step into the garden and follow the path to the back of the house, into a lovely flower garden – the guide explained that Mary had an allotment so the garden was planted up with flowers.

You feel like a visitor at Peworth Seamstress cottage

I felt like a visitor stepping in to see an old friend, the attention to detail was delightful, even before we stepped inside, I relished the site of the mangle and the food safe hanging by the back door. We had to knock and were answered by a charming guide who happily answered my many questions.

scullery Petworth Cottage Museum

You step directly into the small scullery at the back, but it has the feel of a home rather than a museum and the tiny details abound for the visitor to discover.

scullery sink Petworth Cottage Museum

The lovely geraniums on the bright sunny window sill and the vegetables which have been left with the knife as if the lady of the house has just been interrupted by our arrival!

Petworth Cottage Museum

What a lovely eclectic mix of period items – you can just see the clothes horse with its drying sheets, the knives and the plate rack filled with mismatched crockery.

Petworth Cottage Museum

I love the soap dish with its scrubbing brush all ready to use

Petworth Cottage Museum

And the peg basket with wooden clothes pegs

towel on a roll Petworth Cottage Museum

I love the towel at the ready

medicine bottles Petworth Cottage Museum

The medicine cabinet is full of bottles and jars long before the NHS

kitchen Petworth Cottage Museum

There were all types of kitchen devices and gadgetry to feast on

Petworth Cottage Museum

Can you guess what this is?

egg separator Petworth Cottage Museum

an Egg Separator how useful is that?

Petworth Cottage Museum

Some of the devices include pamphlets and instructions

pantry Petworth Cottage Museum

To one side was a door, (that is Mr D escaping to the cellar) I marvelled at the use of space the shelves made use of every nook and cranny, and the preserves were all clearly labelled – I have always had a passion for pantries

Did you spot the green candle holder sitting on the jar?

Cellar Petworth Cottage Museum

The cellar was quite dark but the guide was able to light the original gas lamps and we were able to experience seeing by gas light. As it hissed we saw carpentry tools, a bicycle and a little paraffin heater. The light was not really bright but you could adjust it with the wick.  It was a bit eerie and I was glad to make our way back up the rickety stairs, where there were still wonders to see that I had missed on the climb down.

Parlour Petworth Cottage Museum

We were guided through the kitchen and into the parlour which was full of lots of details and objects including a pretty vase of flowers from the garden.

Games and amusements Petworth Cottage Museum

The Pollyphone was a very rare item it was cross between a music box and a gramophone there were many hand made items

canvass work Petworth Cottage Museum

Including this pretty canvas work cushion on one of the easy chairs by the fire

rag doll Petworth Cottage Museum

this sweet little rag doll had a seat of her own

peek into cupboards Petworth Cottage Museum

Open doors invited me to peek into cupboards (Mrs Cummings wasn’t looking!) the china here was beautiful is rare Petworth Cross China – locally made!

glowing range Petworth Cottage Museum

The range actually glowed, (it was lit by a red lamp) and it was lovely to see the little cakes ready to come out of the oven. There were several irons near the fire, because they lost then heat so quickly you would always have one warming up and one in use. Mrs Cummings must have done a lot of ironing, but then you need to when you sew!

Range Petworth Cottage Museum

What a huge kettle it must have been a huge effort to lift!

table laid for tea Petworth Cottage Museum

The table was all set for afternoon tea – with the sunshine flooding in it was all I could do to stop myself from taking a seat!

laid for tea Petworth Cottage Museum

I marvelled at the meticulous attention to detail as the kindly guide explained that the food items were all made by volunteers the cake and bread is made using salt rather than sugar so that it preserves it. Another small jar of flowers on the table really added to the beauty of the tea table and again helped me feel that I was visiting a home rather than a museum.

lace Petworth Cottage Museum

A sideboard drawer was slightly open to reveal a sumptuous collection of linen and lace.

stairs to the bedroom Petworth Cottage Museum

It was quite a little while before we headed upstairs but the guide did not hurry me

instead we talked about textiles and my interest in the museum because Mrs Cummings was a Seamstress.

Mrs Cunningham Petworth Cottage Museum

And here, at last is Mrs Cummings! Working away at her beautiful treadle sewing machine!

Petworth Cottage Museum

She is making a beautiful piece of delicate lace

Sewing room Petworth Cottage Museum

Again the details are captivating – sewing boxes, thread, darning tools

sewing supplies Petworth Cottage Museum

lace, buttons, pins and needles

shears and patterns Petworth Cottage Museum

her long shears hang on a hook just within reach

Seamstress Bill Petworth Cottage Museum

and an original bill for making a blouse! 6 shillings and 7 pence… not even Primark pay that!

needlework books Petworth Cottage Museum

pattern books and a needlework encyclopaedia

fashion magazine Petworth Cottage Museum

a Parisian Fashion Journal

crochet lace Petworth Cottage Museum

An example of filet crochet lace sits above the pattern book it came from. I am in awe of the skill of the maker, the stitches are so small. I was told many housewives earned extra incomes for their families by selling these lace items at markets -often by gaslight or candle light and I know now what that was like!

christening gown Petworth Cottage Museum

Unfortunately the mechanical age saw demand for home made lace decline, and the skills were almost lost but there are wonderful examples to see, like this beautiful Christening Gown.

crochet lace Petworth Cottage Museum

I have always wanted to try my hand at faggotting, the recent trend for lace on clothing means I have no excuse!

crochet lace pattern book Petworth Cottage Museum

I believe this is tatting – I saw examples of this at a textiles exhibition recently, one lady had been working on a piece for 5 years, but it was so beautiful and well worth the effort.

quilt Petworth Cottage Museum

This beautiful quilt was hanging on the back of a chair, the silk was so vivid after many years

knitting basket Petworth Cottage Museum

we headed to the bedroom and noticed a delightful knitting basket that I wanted to take home!

filet crochet bedspread Petworth Cottage Museum

The bedspread was also filet crochet, Mrs Cummings Pyjamas were laid out ready with another crochet pyjama case

pjs Petworth Cottage Museum

And a bed warmer all air the bed

bed warmer Petworth Cottage Museum

wash stand Petworth Cottage Museum

The wash stand, and the discrete bucket, (you saw the outhouse in the garden in the first picture)

alcove for a wardrobe Petworth Cottage Museum

hats and handbags

lace curtain Petworth Cottage Museum

little dressing table with curling irons

wash stand Petworth Cottage Museum

Such a pretty rose patterned dish and matching table runner in delicate cross stitch

filet lace Petworth Cottage Museum

What a beautiful lace panel along the fireplace. (I think they like Filet Crochet as much as I do!)

clothes Petworth Cottage Museum

no wardrobe just curtains and a towel rail but the clothes are neatly pressed

curtains Petworth Cottage Museum

The curtains matched at the window and they were so pretty I thought I would give you a closer peek at the pattern

bloomers Petworth Cottage Museum

And you thought French knickers were large! These were bloomers worn at the time! with the lovely guide holding them. She kindly brought many more textiles and lace to show me, when she discovered my passion for textiles

to the attic Petworth Cottage Museum

One more flight to the attic room past the wondrous wool coat

attic Petworth Cottage Museum

What a delightful room for a child – but that bed doesn’t look too comfortable

bedside reading Petworth Cottage Museum

there were some really lovely picture books

school slate Petworth Cottage Museum

as well as s school slate

crochet blanket Petworth Cottage Museum

I loved the round little crochet cover with its pretty lacy border which completes our little tour of the house.

If you are near Petworth do make a visit it really is a delightful place you can find more information about opening times here