Thursday, 10 October 2013

Pineapples

Do you remember I suggested looking out for pineapples? 


Did you find any?  Well, I said that I would explain all, and today is the day!

Remember this dish?


Regular readers will know all about my love affair with "my" house, Basildon Park and the guided tours that I am lucky enough to be able to give whilst working there.  One of the things that I love to point out and talk about is pineapples.


You are probably thinking that I am crazy right now, but I'm not!  I promise.


In "ye olden days of yore" pineapples were a very rare and expensive thing.  If you could afford a pineapple you were really something.  Uber wealthy.  Either you had enough money to buy one, or you had enough money to build a pineapple pit in your gardens and have your gardeners grow one for you.  Either way you needed plenty of cash.


So, if you had a pineapple, you would show it off for all you (and the pineapple!) were worth.  You wanted as many people as possible to see your pineapple.  It wasn't just a case of picking one from the garden and eating it. 


Oh no.  You would display it, you would invite guests for dinner and place it in the middle of the table, and show it off and make sure that everyone knew it was there.  There is no way you would just eat it, you would keep it for as long as possible to make sure that lots of people saw it first.


You might have had a special dish to show it off.  This is a pineapple dish which is on display at Basildon Park.


You would cut the pineapple into pieces, insert a wooden dowel (rod) into the hole and then put the pineapple back together using the dowel for support and put the whole thing out on display.  Then after dinner you could disassemble the whole thing and actually eat the pineapple.


If you were not quite as rich, you could rent a pineapple for the evening.  There is no way that you would actually eat this pineapple, but you could display one as though you were rich enough to have purchased it.  Can you imagine renting fruit now!


Pineapples also have another purpose in architectural symbolism.  They are considered to be a symbol of welcome.  I think this comes from the whole idea of displaying the pineapple.


So you often see them in architectural details in buildings.  Here you can see some that are on top of some curtain pelmets.


The place you see them quite often is on gateposts.


In America you sometimes see them used as actual fruit in part of welcome displays, but not really here in England.  They are more likely to be stone.


They were also very fashionable in the 1950's and 60's and were often made into ice buckets and other pineapply ornaments!


So, starting looking out for pineapples, you will see them all over the place.  Please don't curse me though when you find yourself looking out for them, and don't expect to be able to rent one for the day from your supermarket - they won't take it back you know!


Happy pineapple hunting and eating.


Don't forget to share with me where you have seen pineapples!

Amy

Basildon Park know that I exist because I volunteer with them, but that is all. I am just sharing this with you because Basildon Park is part of what I do and love.  The ice bucket and brass pineapples were photographed at Pineapple Retro, who know I exist, but I don't gain anything from this!

14 comments:

  1. That is so interesting! I laughed at the thought of renting fruit, what a bizarre idea! So glad we live in more informal times now, imagine getting all stressed out because you didn't have the right sort of fruit in the house. The only fruit people would ever get to see in my home is the stuff turning wrinkly in the fruit bowl.

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    1. At least yours is real fruit, in my bowl right now I have two plastic apples and a pen!

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  2. Loved reading your interesting pineapple post! I shall start looking out for them today wherever I go!
    Helen x

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    1. As you can see from all of my photos, once you start looking you will see a lot! Have fun hunting. xx

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  3. I have the exact same brass pineapple! Bought it in an op shop in London years ago.

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    1. Make sure you hang on to it, apparently they sell for quite a lot!

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  4. Fascinating, I'd have never guessed what the dish was used for.

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    1. When I do tours I always ask the group what they think it is, I have had some very odd answers!!

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  5. I love the idea of renting the pineapple - I'll be telling my local greengrocer that little nugget later today! I found a bunch of ram's heads at a friend's very old home full of marvellous antiques - they were on the fireplace surround, on pillars for lamps...such fun to spot! Chrissie x

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    1. I would love to see the greengrocers face if you ask to rent a pineapple! Glad that you are having fun spotting little details. It is amazing what you find when you start to look, isn't it. Amy xx

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  6. That was really interesting to read. I have seen lots of of pineapple designs in Colonial American historic sites. I had no idea about the renting, that's fascinating.

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    1. There are some lovely pineapples in some of the Colonial sites aren't there Jennifer, they really knew how to display them! xx

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  7. Wow I haven't seen so many examples of pineapples all in one go! The pineapple dish is so lovely, it must be wonderful working in Basildon House. There used to be two pineapples carved out of Portland stone and located on pillars on the edge of the town to welcome visitors.
    Sarah x

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    1. Working at Basildon Park is lovely! I have been working on gathering all these pictures for a while now, and it wasn't until I started actually writing the post that I realised how many I had. As I said, once you start looking it is amazing how many you see. The pineapples on pillars are exactly the sort of thing that I was referring to, so you know what I mean. Thanks for visiting my blog, hope to see you again. xx

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