Marjorie Quennell

Yesterday was my least favourite day of the year when, as an annual ritual, I try to tidy my study.   But there are occasional rewards, including this year the re-emergence of a small book which my brother kindly gave me – I think for Christmas – entitled London Craftsman:  A Guide to Museums having Relics of Old Trades, published in 1939 by London Transport priced at 6d.   Marjorie Quennell was co-author with her husband Charles of the four-volume  A History of Everyday Things which pioneered the study of ordinary domestic objects and, in 1935, the year of her husband’s death, she was appointed as the first curator of the Geffrye Museum (she lived on after the war until 1972).   Her book was advertised as ‘a tour of London’ in which ‘She shows you where to see the things that London craftsmen used to make, and the tools with which they made them’.   The museums include the London Museum, then housed in Lancaster House (and had a 6d. entrance fee mid-week), the Horniman Museum, which had a section of bygones, and the Bethnal Green Museum, which was described as ‘very popular’ and had a special display of Spitalfields silk.

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Described as a ‘Model of a Mahogany Staircase’ in the V&A:

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Roubiliac’s lay figure in the London Museum:

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