Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Royal Albert Old Country Roses

As a young girl I lived in a rural community and was fortunate to spend several years next door to this very lovely lady:

I apologize for the photo quality - it was taken well before the digital age. A mother of five and retired nurse by profession, she often kept my older brother and I while my parents were out. We were all so fond of each other that we often referred to her as "aunt" despite our lacking genealogical relation. I spent summers playing with her visiting grandchildren and from her I learned many things form quilting to butchering a chicken to milking cows and shearing sheep...or is it sheering? Anyway, she could make a mean fried chicken and was a joyful spirit in my life - I can still hear her buoyant laugh and I spent hours upon hours with her during the five years I lived next door. She is in my hall of fame of gracious women who unwittingly helped to shape me into who I would ultimately become. I will forever be grateful for our years together.  She had two sets of dishes that stand out in my mind - one of them being Royal Albert Old Country Roses by Royal Doulton. At 8 years old I fell in love with British finery before I even knew what it was. I would spend hours drooling through the glass of her china cabinet looking at each piece of china, wishing I could touch it and at the same time being terrified at the thought of damaging a piece. I decided then that I would one day have that same china pattern. As the saying goes "you bring about what you think about" and true to the adage, I am the giddy owner of eight place settings and numerous serving pieces from Royal Doulton's Royal Albert Old Country Roses. 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the pattern and I look forward to adding many more pieces throughout the coming years. With all of my offspring, I'll need at least four more place settings, don't you think? 

When I became engaged to the Music Man we, like most couples, found ourselves at a major department store trotting around with a sales clerk scanning items for our registry. There was no question in my mind that Old Country Roses would be our china pattern so I was a bit surprised when my husband-to-be hesitated at the choice. Let me insert here that I lack any semblance of a know, that inborn trait that normal human beings possess where they stop and think about their words in that instant before they speak....I don't do that. I am somewhat of a blunt instrument, a bit outspoken and, well...I run a little hot (this temper has convinced me, along with my love of potatoes, that I must have a few Irish genes swimming around my DNA - at least, this is the story I'm sticking to). Needless to say, the Music Man's mild hesitation was met with a quick declaration that I would choose the china over him. What can I say? I tend to use a bazooka when a fly swatter would do. He married me anyway and took the china as part of the package. Now, he's in love with the pattern as much as I and we happily set our 2012 holiday table with it for the first time in forever. It was wonderful. 

Royal Doulton's Royal Albert China was first designed by Harold Holdcroft in 1962. While there are over 100 Royal Albert designs, Old Country Roses remains the most successful pattern - a testament to its timeless elegance and beauty.