Protecting our heritage

Protecting our heritage

The members of the Household Consumers’ League recently visited the Lindfield Victorian Museum, leaving more than just intrigued after a Victorian tea and tour by owner Katharine Love.

On hearing Katharine’s story and her concerns about the home’s future, they felt the need to raise these concerns at their monthly meeting in Bedfordview on Wednesday last week.

“This museum is an astonishing collection of Victorian memorabilia housed in the old family home of Katharine, which is still her residence today,” explained HCL committee member Ina Loizides.

Chloe Eilertsen, HCL chairperson, explained this walk-in museum was like a time capsule, in that Katharine utilised the home, fully stocked with Victorian items, from crockery to linen, to ornaments and books, as her own. “She goes to sleep each night in a bed in one of the rooms, kitted with Victorian bedding,” she told members at the meeting. Who knows but maybe she wakes up to have breakfast in the dining room, which has everything available – including the finishing touches, like an authentic Victorian butter dish and fish knife, Chloe added.
There is a Victorian library in her home in which you can recline in a genuine antique chair, and page through some of history’s finest literary masterpieces. It is filled with old, collectors’ pieces, pages yellowed with time but still in pristine condition.

Chloe described the larger-than-life children’s rooms, all of which were decorated and equipped as though a little child might enter at any moment. Teddies, train sets, toys, and timeless Victorian pieces awaken the imagination of visitors, and the cupboards can be opened to show a full range of children’s clothes, as well as shoes – even socks.
“The doll house is one of the rooms is about half the size of a room in length and breadth and is unlike anything we have today.”

Tame TIMES has also visited the home. It is as though Katharine and the entire house, with all its contents, have been transported in a time machine into modern-day Braamfontein. Katherine once related a story how the house had once been broken into, and the thieves had left with just the TV and radio, and modern appliances, not realising the value of the furniture and other items in the house.

The security around the house has since been strengthened, with electric fencing and other installations, but Katherine’s concern is now how the house, recognised as a Heritage Site, will continue into the future, as she hasn’t got any children of her own to pass on her inheritance.

Chloe raised the issue with the members, who provided different suggestions as to how this ‘living’ Victorian relic could be preserved for generations to come. “A major concern however, faces the future of the museum, as no South African museum seems interested in taking it over after her death. The ideal would be for the entire contents to be shipped to the UK for preservation.”

“It is a part of our heritage, but also significant to Britain’s heritage,” said Ina. “Someone would have to care for it as Katharine does. At the moment, she lives in the house and when visitors come to see the museum, she dresses up as a Victorian maid to assist the visitors. Often she is accompanied by her neighbour, who dresses up as a butler. This is a completely unique treasure from our past, and should be celebrated by all South Africans.”
Suggestions to help with this rather serious situation would be appreciated and can be forwarded to Katherine at 011 726 2932 or lindfieldhousemuseum@outlook.com. The Household Consumers’ League committee can also be contacted about this matter at loizides@b2einternet.co.za