Thursday, March 17


To say I'm ridiculously sentimental would be
a gross understatement.

Keeping family treasures and mementos is acceptable
but how do I justify an irrational penchant for
the mundane things unknown people have written?

Ordinary people. Ordinary things.
Shopping lists. Comments in the margin of completed recipes.
Thankyou notes. Diary entries. Postcards.
Inscriptions on the back of photographs.

So when I found this Guest House Visitors Book
at Shepton Fleamarket last year
I knew fate had placed us together-
true love across a crowded stall!

With leather-bound spine, faded board covers
stitched pages and and marbled fly leaf,
the front is simply inscribed
(my fingers linger over the gold blocked letters as I type!)
and the inner page is dated 1928

She ran a Guest House; People left a comment.
A moment in life captured forever

Some struggling with the inkiness of the pen
some neat no-nonsense comments, some expert calligraphy,
politeness, gushiness. . .

what was the significance of the leaf pressed
twixt two pages?

did "Anita" stay the weekend?
(and was she wearing her best gowns furs mantles and lingerie)?

Many visitors returned year after year on the same dates,
a testament to both extreme comfort and routine!

some lodged during the working week
and went "home" at weekends

but every comment praised comfort
kindness and attention to detail.

These were unsettled years leading to the start of WW2
and the Guest House finally shut it's doors
at the end of November 1940

did He get his call-up papers?
did She feel she couldn't manage alone,
lighting the fires. . .cooking breakfast
(how did Wartime rationing work away from home)?

The world had changed irrevicably since
those heady days of opening the front door
and opening The Book!

Part of me wants to know what happened next.

Part of me doesn't. . .


sue15cat said...

It's like being allowed a glimpse into someone elses life.

Real can't beat it.

Sue xx

Hesta Nesta said...

What an absolute treasure of a find, a real snapshot of times past and the seemingly carefree days before the onset of World War Two when everything changed for those a way it is so romantic and poignant, and also sad at the same time because what happened to all those people? A lovely thing to treasure Elaine, I don't think this one needs any justification....definitely a keeper.
Jo xx

Sherri B. said...

That is a treasure indeed! I wonder why we get so sentimental about these type of things? Hubby and I came across a Pay Book ledger from the early 1900's, it was fascinating but we couldn't justify the high price they were asking (and probably won't get) at the thrift store. Have fun looking through your great find.

Alix said...

You could weave a work of fiction round it! What a great find!

Vintage Tea Time said...

Yes, as Alix says, it would make a good story or afternoon radio play - 'Today's play is adapted from the Booker Prize winning story by Elaine, 'The Visitors Book'.....! A lovely bit of social history. Abby x

Rose H (UK) said...

I'm with you, I'd have got it too. I love things like that....just think how delighted some of the family members would be to find a comment Gt Aunt Ethel left after a weeks holiday! Certainly a treasure and gone to the right home, though I am just a little envious.

I agree totally with Alix and Vintage Tea Time - what fascinating tales could be written through comments left in that book.

Rose H

Janet said...

I just love things like this- my imagination runs away with me at times ! your too I expect !

Autumn Mist said...

It was only when you mentioned the war that it suddenly came into perspective. What a wonderful thing to have. I am after one of the original Girl Guide handbooks, (for similar, very nostalgic reasons) if you ever see one, give me a shout.

Country Cottage Chic said...

What a treasure! You are not alone in loving these fleeting glimpses of times gone by.


Menopausal musing said...

.... and how did it get so far south from its origin?.......... what tales it could tell...........

two bones and a bagle said...

How delightful today I purchased an old photo album for 64p with quite a few old photos and postcards in - none with names but I have already had so much pleasure looking through them and wondering who they were, what they did, where they lived etc. My friend beat me to a hand written recipe book (good job I love her) written in 1920 with beautiful writing, very Art Deco style titles in red and black ink a little work of art and including lots of recipes including some for medicines and a lotion to curl your hair. I just love these little gems from times gone by.

VintageWantsNotNeeds said...

What a wonderful find from a bygone time. I love anything historical being a bit of an old duffer myself. I have been researching my family tree for years and always get so excited when I find out something new about a person even though I never knew them. Hubby once had to stop me from taking a pot from the top of a greatgrandparents grave. He pointed out that it could be classed as grave robbing or theft at the very least as he prised it from my fingers....but exceitement overcame me as we had spent months looking for this particular grave with nothing more than a photograph.

Annie said...

Hi Elaine, what a fascinating find. Like you I love old ephemera and like nothing better than deciphering the handwriting on the back of old postcards or letters and reading handwritten notes in books.
Ann x

sandiart said...

I love that book, my mum gave me her bible and she has put orchids and feathers etc in it, they are very old and I love it.
x Sandi

OhSoVintage said...

What a wonderful piece of social history. Were there and Mr and Mrs Smiths??

Sylvia said...

What a treasure you've found, Elaine !
It must be so exciting reading this guest book and wondering at those people. I have the same feeling with vintage photos, love this post ...
Nice weekend,

My Spotty Pony said...

94 Newlands Road, Newcastle (9th photo) is the road behind where I grew up. The houses were built around 1920 so would have been fairly new back then.
We used to have days out there on the beach when I was little and I still like to go and walk along the coast in the summer, it was and still is a wonderful holiday destination and not changed much since the 1920's I imagine. A lovely book to have... I am slightly green in colour! Abby x

Terry said...

Who could resist that gorgeous marbled fly leaf?

Kim said...

Oh, Wow, Kit's mum...what a find! Oooh I would love to hop across the pond and sit with you and read this treasure!I understand your penchant extremely well. After all...we are all bloggers and readin'n writn is what we love and what we do!

gillyflower said...

Its fascinating! I think the everyday finds are far more intesting as they reflect everyday life that we can relate to in osme way, even if life has changed somewhat since then.That little card of Anitas is so sweet and of its time - gowns, furs, mantles and lingerie - sounds so luxurious and refined, and conjures up all sorts of wonderful visions of a different way of life!
have a great weekend

gillyflower said...

Sorry about the typos - should've checked!!!

Gena said...

I share your sentimental streak Elaine! it is beautiful,I once found the most poignant love letter at a house clearance,sent during wartime,I could not ever part with it.xx

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