I came across this doll’s tea-set in the back of a high cupboard the other day, whilst rummaging around for something else. It belonged to my great Aunty Gwen, who passed away some years ago aged ninety.
The teapot and milk jug are different to the rest of the set; they’re painted with little violets and are from Czechoslovakia. The delicate cups and saucers are bedecked with roses and marked ‘Bavaria’. It’s amazing that this fragile little tea set has survived in such excellent condition; no chips or cracks and only one of the ten saucers missing.
So well organised, Aunty Gwen carefully packaged up her valuable things, labelled them, and gifted them to loved ones well before her death, and the inevitable free-for-all that follows. I was lucky to be entrusted with this cherished childhood treasure. Our wedding present from her was a set of silver teaspoons in their original velvet-lined box, given as a wedding gift to her parents, my great-grandparents, in 1911. I feel so honoured that she trusted me to keep these things safe.
My Aunty Gwen was a very proper maiden aunt; born in 1914, my Grandpa’s younger sister. A domestic science teacher and the family historian, she scrupulously recorded family details and safely kept family photographs and belongings. She was softly spoken, gentle, somewhat naïve of the modern world, adored by all, and gently teased by some cheekier family members (mostly my Dad, her eldest nephew.)
Always at my grandparents’ house for family events, Aunty Gwen is now buried with them in their woodland grave. My abiding memories are of afternoon tea with all the generations together, served properly with porcelain and silver, a nice slice of home-made cake, and a game of Scrabble.
In honour of Aunty Gwen, and just because I discovered her long-forgotten doll’s tea-set, I baked my version of my granny’s favourite tea-time treat, lemon drizzle cake. I’ve adapted a Jamie Oliver recipe and made it gluten free.