What’s New at WDS – July 22, 2020

Everyday Living at WDS

Everything is coming up gorgeous at WDS! The first phlox blossoms are in bloom – just a few now but within the next few weeks they will add tremendous color to the garden. Be sure to check out the hollyhock in the photos below, it’s incredible! Better yet, stop by and see this continuously unfolding splendor in person; the garden is open every day from dawn to dusk. Be sure to bring, and wear, your face mask and stay socially distanced.

Collections A-Z – “N” is for Nipper

By the late 1600s, West Indian sugar began playing a major role in the imperial economies of Britain, France, Holland and Spain. The toil of untold thousands of enslaved Africans produced a flood of this sweetener which was rapidly finding growing acceptance on both sides of the Atlantic. Sugar produced from cane could take one of two forms: liquid (molasses, rum); and solid (brown and refined white sugars).

Refined white sugar was poured into cone-shaped molds to create what are called sugar loaves. Wrapped in paper for shipment and sale, the cones would be broken up into smaller pieces in the kitchen for various domestic uses. Among the specialized tools that might be found in an 18th-century kitchen were a mortar and pestle (see last week’s entry) for producing granulated sugar from chunks broken off the loaf, and sugar nippers, iron, scissors-like devices designed to carefully break off small lumps of sugar for use in tea or cooking.

The Deane kitchen includes a pair of 18th-century nippers, likely of English origin. Nippers came in various sizes and degrees of sophistication based on decorative designs cast or etched on the pivot point. This example bears decoration in the form of a floral motif. So, think of these nippers next time your sugar has turned into a solid lump!

Around the Grounds

If these brownstone steps look familiar it may be because you’ve sat on one of them while they were used as benches in the front courtyard! This week in “Around the Grounds,” Dick shows us how these “new” brownstone steps—weighing about 1200 lbs each!—were built into the stone wall of the new addition, connecting the path leading from the sundial under the locust tree to the west entrance. We believe these stones were brought up from Portland, CT in the 18th or 19th century. In the third photos we see the stonework which was dry laid by masons around the Webb privy near the WDS Colonial Revival Garden. We are so fortunate to have master craftsmen working on this project!