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A life in antiques - Nautical delights

PUBLISHED: 13:58 14 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:11 20 February 2013

The nautical collection together

The nautical collection together

While Surrey may not have its own coastline, our leafy county still has a grand nautical tradition to uphold. ALISON HOUGHAM, owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, set out on a voyage of discovery to find a few boat worthy treasures


While Surrey may not have its own coastline, our leafy county still has a grand nautical tradition to uphold. ALISON HOUGHAM, owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, set out on a voyage of discovery to find a few boat worthy treasures



Having visited Hatchlands Park last autumn, a beautiful 18th century home in East Clandon, the memory of their nautically themed interior, designed by the famous designer Robert Adam, has remained with me and I felt inspired to seek out a nautical collection for us here at The Packhouse in Farnham.

Being positioned so close to the coast, we are often a keen port of call for many seafaring folk on the look out for boat worthy treasures. So when I came across my latest trio of delights I felt as proud (albeit on a somewhat simpler level) as Christopher Columbus must have done discovering America!


Finding original pieces that still have a genuine use in today's home, either as working objet d'art or simply as decorative accessories, is not as commonplace as you might imagine. So the ship's Morse lamp, telescope and binoculars that we discovered are superb examples of classic memorabilia being preserved for future generations.
The ship's Morse lamp originally came from an English vessel and dates back, we believe, to the 1940's. It is in fabulous condition, with all parts working including the Morse shutter system. The fittings and casement have been stripped back to reveal the original iron and brass detail and it has been converted to take a 240v bulb. Supported now by a new aluminium stand, the piece is a beacon of inspiration and I wonder what this large eye-like lamp has indeed seen in the course of its working life.


Eye, eye sailor...!

From the shores of England to Far Eastern waters, our Japanese binoculars dated back to the 1920's and would have been used as the optic on top of military survey equipment. They have been fully restored, including the lenses, and provide a striking yet functional antique with which to watch ships at sea; or even to observe the view from the heights of my hot air balloon! The paint has all been removed to reveal brass and aluminium casing. No iron or steel would have been used in the original construction, as this would have affected the compasses that were used to check and programme orientation, prior to use. They have been mounted on a tripod, dating back to the 1940's, made by Carl Ziess, who still make high quality lenses today, notably for Canon and Sony cameras.
Finally, my favourite find within the trio is a 19th Century table telescope. It is presented on its original tripod and is embossed with the maker's signature and stamp - JH Dallinger. The metal is nickel coated brass, and the lens, still in perfect condition, is a true find. The piece would originally have been used by a gentleman of considerable standing, as optics of this kind were incredibly expensive and the preserve of the rich, famous or professional only. It is a beautiful piece to look at, as well as look through, and one cannot help imagining a true Mr Darcy type figure using this piece with poise and flamboyance.


Bon voyage...

These seaworthy pieces are wonderful finds for anyone with a nautical leaning and would grace many a home with grandeur and elegance. They have unearthed a heady desire to experience new adventures at sea - although I am not so sure my wobbly sea legs would agree! From one old captain, I wish you all bon voyage and look forward to my next instalment with you.





Alison Hougham lives in a renovated Victorian ground floor apartment near Farnham. When not at home or at The Packhouse, which is also in Farnham, you will often see her over the Surrey Hills piloting her hot air balloon.

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