Western Australia Colonial Furniture

March 23, 2015
Enderslea Farm Chittering Valley Ken and Sydney Clarke

There is an interesting collection of early Western Australia Colonial furniture at Enderslea Farm.
The farm itself was established in 1853 so pre Gold Rush furniture seemed the appropriate way to furnish.
Henry and Sarah Morley arrived in Perth on the Wanstead on January 30th 1830.They were servants to Colonel Latour but his plans immediately collapsed so Henry and Sarah Morley with their two young daughters were thrown to their own devices.
They did progress well but they always remained yeoman farmers and the simplicity of their lives is echoed in the simple georgian style of the furniture in their home.

Colonial Australian furniture is readily available but early Western Australian furniture less so. Also for collectors the same item, in Western Australia is much more expensive. Still there are many enthusiastic collectors and interesting collections. Tragically the fine collection of Michael and Rose Chaney was destroyed when their property of Wallcliff was destroyed in the bush fires at Margaret River a few years ago.
Georgian Style furniture remained popular long into the Victorian era. Probably for 2 reasons. First because Perth and its settlers remained on the outskirts of the United Kingdom style leaders and second because the main wood used for furniture was Jarrah. This is a particularly hard wood and wood workers and furniture makers would have found it very difficult to carve and shape. All the flourishes that High Victorian Style demanded was beyond the skill of most of the poorly trained workers in Western Australia throughout the 19th Century.
Another type of vintage furniture exists for collectors. This is called PACKING CASE or even DESPERATION furniture. Combining both recycled and purchased materials, considerable care and effort nonetheless went into many pieces of salvage furniture. Much of the furniture created was originally painted white or cream, the colour most commonly recommended in early settlers handbooks. Some home made packing case furniture was, until recently, still found even in comfortable middle-class country homes. While itis true that these pieces were generally made from poor materials as a response to necessity, they were not necessarily regarded as mere stopgaps, to be discarded as soon as circumstances allowed.
Many country people took considerable pride in their home-crafted furniture, a pride that was enhanced rather than diminished by an awareness of the genuine circumstances under which it had been produced. The value they placed on their own roles as resourceful settlers helps to explain the continual use of many such pieces long after they could have been retired.
As well as finer jarrah pieces there are some packing case pieces..even cotton reel pieces of furniture at Enderslea Farm.
I know I have to get some photos taken to make these pages more interesting to website visitors.

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