Digging up big parts of the garden to add a small orchard, shrubs and flowers for all round colour have been given a added frisson of interest by finds of pottery sherds and glass. As an activity, collecting these fragments it is very far from anything resembling archaeology, as deposition is almost completely random, and unearthing them is a far from delicate process, but these finds are still something of a link between the property and its past, and have charm. I have already posted about two 19th Century bottles, one from the J.F. Edisbury Co. pharmacy in Wrexham and another from the Chester Lion Brewery, but two weeks ago we found something completely new.
I decided to dig out a perennial flower border that was full of lovely plants but hopelessly infested with coarse and deep-rooted couch grass, the roots of which snap when one tries to pull them out, and go on to fight many other days. Having dug out and potted up the plants, I was left with a ghastly bare bed that looked as though the gophers had been at it, but it was then ready to be prepared for a useful life. My gardener Joe began to turn it over, digging in fertilizer, and this little object turned up during that process.
This is a tiny male head, about 4cm tall, in white ceramic, completely hollow, with a seam line running along both sides. The face seems child-like, the hair very curly, and the hat slightly out of place on such a young head. The overall effect is slightly humorous. The best guess proffered so far amongst those I have asked is that it was designed as a support for a pie crust. Apparently white figurines of this size with flat-topped hats and hollow interiors were produced in the early 20th Century for this purpose and were not uncommon.
It seems like a plausible explanation. I’ve had a hunt around the part of the garden where he was found, but so far have not found the rest of him. It seems likely that if the head was chucked into the garden, the rest of him would have been thrown nearby, so we will keep an eye or two open.
For other objects in the series,
see the History in Garden Objects page