“Whenever I get the chance on a holiday weekend at our flat in Brighton, I slip away to explore one of those fascinating treasure houses that you can find all jumbled together in the old part of town.
I never cross the threshold without a rising sense of excitement. What shall I find? What touching relic of the past is waiting for me there?
The power that treasures of the past have of conjuring up people of another age enthralls me. I hold in the palm of my hand a silver snuff box two hundred years old, and I think of it’s first owner so many years ago, and I begin to wonder…
What was he like, the man who first bought this trinket? Was he a dandy- lounging so elegantly against the wall of some scented salon, taking his pinch of snuff with long white fingers?
Or was he some merchant worried about trade, taking his snuff the way a modern businessman smokes his cigarettes- to relieve the tensions of his work?
One of my most treasured possessions is a pair of delicately worked stockings that once belonged to Queen Victoria.
I imagine her young and happy, dancing at a ball with Prince Albert, her dainty white stockings decorously covered by her full crinoline. What little feet she must have had!
And yet, though intimate, personal belongings like these stockings, that snuff box, can bring people of years ago vividly to life for us. I never look at them without thinking how far away from us they really are , and what a great gulf of time and experience separates us from our ancestors.
Their world was different from ours- quieter, more leisured, moving at a slower pace. Their problems were utterly different from the ones that face ordinary men and women in this hurrying, turbulent, jet-age of ours.”
Anna Neagle, Woman Magazine, June 20th, 1959.