For three decades, an old teapot and kettle stand on display on a shelf in my dining room. Few people who see them fail to ask: What is with those old pots? I suppose they must stand out in their eyes, although I’m sure I don’t know why – I chose everything else in the room with them in mind.
When my husband and I married 32 years ago, my grand-aunt Stella from England wrote me and asked: What would you like for a wedding present? I answered that I loved brass and copper. Soon after, a package arrived from England, accompanied by a card from Stella telling us: “I have the perfect thing for you, and when I received your reply I immediately thought of these! I climbed a ladder up to my attic and found my parents’ teapot and my grandparents’ teakettle that I had put up there years ago”. Stella was 90 years old at that time! The teapot is copper, and the kettle is brass. She went on to tell me: “I used these through the years while I was growing up but packed them up and have had them in storage since I moved to my new house.” That was in 1953. “I never thought about them again, until I received your letter when I remembered them in an instant.” She added a lucky shilling to the pot, a good luck charm from her.
Through the years as my family have moved to new homes, the teapot and kettle always find their place in our dining room. On our children’s visits home, when we gather for coffee and tea together, it is sometimes still served from these old pots.
I have been amazed at the life stories that accompany the teapot and kettle. The first owners of the brass kettle since about 1845 were my great-great-grandparents – Eliza Jetson Cave and John Cockerill, who were Stella’s grandparents. John and Eliza gave the kettle to their youngest daughter, Catherine in 1892 and then in 1953, Catherine gave it to her niece, Stella. The first owners of the copper kettle since about 1890 were my great-grandparents – Mary Kendrick and Joseph Cockerill, who were Stella’s parents.
Over the years, I’ve often wondered: Should I polish them up? Is it the patina of over a hundred years that makes them unusual? Goodness knows; they have seen their share of polishing. The raised portions of the flowers embossed into the kettle are worn right through from polishings of the past. In the end, my husband and I always agree: No, we’ll leave them as they are. We like them like that.
I have traveled to almost every home the various owners over time – and, so also the pots – have lived. Amazingly, many of these homes still stand and are in use today. I have even enjoyed a cup of tea in some of them with cousins who happen to live there still.
We are lucky indeed to have been brought together, despite great time and distance, by something as unlikely as two old tin teapots.