Jody Stew­art,

Janet Horner’s life­long col­lec­tions are lov­ingly dis­played in her East Sus­sex home, which, at this time of year, comes into its own with pa­per dec­o­ra­tions, fo­liage and fairy lights

Homes and Antiques Magazine - - WELCOME - pho­tographed ‘Salut­ing the Sea­son’

Jody first started tak­ing pho­to­graphs at the age of 13, when land­scapes were his sub­ject of choice, but in­te­ri­ors soon caught his eye. Dur­ing the 10 years he has been work­ing, his work has ap­peared in myr­iad na­tional and in­ter­na­tional ti­tles.

‘My favourite tra­di­tion is def­i­nitely the Christ­mas tree. I al­ways take my nephew Chris­tian to choose one, then we spend the day dec­o­rat­ing it.’

Janet Horner’s house in East Sus­sex is a vivid record of her life as an artist, col­lec­tor and dealer in tex­tiles. In 2011, when she de­cided to look for a town­house within walk­ing dis­tance of shops, she did her re­search, found a ter­race of Vic­to­rian houses that met her re­quire­ments and walked down the road to put le!ers through the door of each house. Then an es­tate agent called and said that if no one over the next two days o"ered the ask­ing price for the end house in the ter­race, the owner was sim­ply not go­ing to sell. ‘So I o"ered the ask­ing price,’ says Janet.

Once she had moved in, there was quite a to- do list be­fore she could think about where to ac­com­mo­date her many an­tiques, pur­chased from salesrooms and auc­tions over more than 50 years. The col­lec­tion be­gan in the 1950s when Janet and her late hus­band, Cedric, were art stu­dents in Leeds. On a pre- Christ­mas walk they found, ‘a clock­work aero­plane with pi­lot that had nose- dived into the snow,’ says Janet. ‘ We couldn’t imag­ine how it had got there, but we car­ried it o" and, a #er that, when­ever we saw a toy we liked for its vis­ual ap­peal we bought it. Lots came from jum­ble sales, while some were bought brand new. The $ rst pair of mo­tor­bikes came from a toy shop and we started col­lect­ing ones that dated from the 1920s to the 1960s; ev­ery­thing from a Lam­bre! a scooter to a Schuco rac­ing car that plays a tune when the steer­ing wheel is turned. Most of the toys are clock­work but we also added space toys and ro­bots as they ap­peared on the scene.’

Janet’s three chil­dren, Peter, Ben and Polly, grew up learn­ing how to play with th­ese spe­cial toys with care. ‘ It was a rainy day’s treat for us to take them down, dust them and all play with them to­gether.’ To­day, her four grand­sons are sim­i­larly en­ter­tained. The vast col­lec­tion is now dis­played in glass-fronted cup­boards in the snug.

Her jum­ble sale and auc­tion habit also nur­tured a col­lec­tion of Vic­to­rian gar­ments, from pe!icoats to chris­ten­ing gowns. ‘ I had them hang­ing in a win­dow in­stead of a blind,’ she ex­plains. ‘A friend said, “You could sell that sort of thing.” It took a while to re­alise he was right.

Then I used to go out with a friend in the 1960s, push­ing our ba­bies in prams, and we’d pick up beaded dresses and art deco Bake­lite and brooches.’

By the 1970s, Janet was sell­ing ! rst to deal­ers, then from her own stalls. Her ta­lent as a self-taught dress­maker is only re­vealed in pass­ing when she de­scribes how she sewed bias- cut dresses out of silk scarves and coats out of che­nille table­cloths that she sold in Lon­don’s Cam­den Pas­sage then Covent Gar­den. ‘ I still wear a 1920s long bouclé jacket in black with Ja­panese em­broi­dery that I bought in those early days,’ she says.

Bit by bit, Janet also be­gan buy­ing in­ter­est­ing pieces and be­came known as a dealer in tex­tiles and dec­o­ra­tive an­tiques with a pres­ence at pres­ti­gious fairs, from Kens­ing­ton Bro­cante to Ard­ingly and Ne­wark. Spe­cial buys from auc­tions and other deal­ers in­clude her si"ing room cur­tains with che­nille em­broi­dered pan­els dat­ing from the late 19th cen­tury and thought to be a de­sign by CFA Voy­sey. An­other favourite ac­qui­si­tion is a de­sign for fab­ric by French artist Raoul Dufy, reprinted in the 1980s. ‘ I recog­nised the de­sign as a Dufy and couldn’t bear to cut it up, so I made a blind with it for the kitchen win­dow so that I can en­joy his skill as a pa"ern­maker ev­ery time I wash up.’

There is scarcely an item in the house that doesn’t have a story to tell and, for Janet, that is the joy of liv­ing here. In her bed­room she points to the 1920s shoes on the man­tel that her artist daugh­ter, Polly, wore at her wed­ding. While on the hall wall it is the pic­ture of the fam­ily’s Christ­mas tree by Cedric that il­lus­trates many of the dec­o­ra­tions that still come out each year. Ev­ery Christ­mas, helped by Polly, Janet con­jures up the sea­sonal magic of their col­lec­tive past with paper­chains and lanterns, baubles and can­dles, to en­hance rooms that are al­ready scenes of ex­tra­or­di­nary vis­ual largesse. This is a house where dec­o­ra­tive # air is a non-stop back­drop that merely goes into over­drive as it salutes the sea­son.

ABOVE FROM LEFT Clock­work mo­tor­bikes form a core part of the col­lec­tion; the main cab­i­net that holds Janet’s hoard of clock­work toys was dis­cov­ered 20 years ago on the pave­ment out­side a chemist’s shop, wait­ing to be col­lected for dis­posal.

ABOVE FROMLEFT Paper­chains in­tro­duce Christ­mas into the sit­ting room. The 1860s wing chair is cov­ered in vin­tage French tea towel fab­ric. Cur­tains dat­ing from the 1890s are thought to be in a CFA Voy­sey de­sign; a se­lec­tion of old toys share their own set of shelves.

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