Category Archives: 13

Spring 2018 Roars in Like a Royal Lion

While the Northeast is battling fallen trees and pounding wind and rain, Charleston is astir with the sights and scents of Spring.  Escape! Do whatever you can! Come quick!  Bright yellow bursts of Lady Banks Rose, Carolina Jasmine, and points of snapdragons are in my garden along with the smiling faces dancing in the wind of the pansies, poppies, and  johnny jump ups that bounced back from the rare winter ice and snow along with mounds of cilantro and lettuces for salads. It seems our wintry blast has given us the beginnings of a spectacular spring that is satisfying the color deprived eyes to behold.

Did my citrus survive? All my friends want to know who depend on gifts of my homemade calamondin marmalade.  While I lost a satsuma orange tree in the back garden that had produced the most prolific crop of its life, my two calamondin orange trees are showing green stems and the first hint of leaves to come.  The grapefruit tree is in a new coat of tender green leaves, which is a surprise because grapefruit are the least cold tolerant.  That is why I planted it closest to the house. Last night I saw what took my breath away in the back garden.  I actually thought  someone had put little wispy white lights on my persimmon tree on every to-the-sky reaching branch. It was the clusters of new leaves catching the full moon light, a magical moment from the Light of Heaven. When you come on my tour, ask me to show you these behind the scenes treasures of mine.

Another treasure recently acquired is an American mahogany secretary-desk-linen press.  While it doesn’t produce fruit, it does fit into my tour and has the added bonus of hiding my daily used books and linens.  It is the kind with thirteen panes of glass on each of the two doors.  Thomas Chippendale designed such secretary desks, which then were made by cabinet makers on both sides of the Atlantic.  While Chippendale did not have our Thirteen Colonies in mind, the design in time came to be associated with celebrating America’s Thirteen Colonies, Great Britain’s most valuable possessions, when the sun never set on the British Empire, and then our Liberty.  I had gone to one of my favorite antique shops to buy a wedding present, having felt compelled to go at that moment, though out of my way. I found the silver wine coaster wedding present and was reading the write up on the secretary desk, not really considering buying it, when I heard a voice behind me saying, “You know, you really should buy that piece.”  “Who is this brazen salesman?” I thought as I whisked around.  It was Jeff Miller, our minister at St. Philips, the Billy Graham of Charleston!  How much more clear a direction can you get than that?  Come and see! It is a practical, utilitarian piece made back when furniture was also a work of art.

Charleston was a haven for such creativity of skilled craftsmen: cabinet makers, silversmiths, iron workers, all vying with each other as to who could come up with the most pleasing design.  The subtle inlay and crotchet mahogany  and valanced pigeon holes show the skill of an artist who loved his work.  I think it must have been the desk of the lady of the house with it having slides on the bottom half for linens.

What tidbit of history thrills me most to have recently learned?   I have been quoting our state motto for years without knowing how it came to be ours.  Dum spiro spero.  While I breath, I hope. There is a narrowing ring within the ring of Charlestonians with whom I enjoy talking history who are the keepers of The Knowledge.  Vic Brandt, who came to my father’s 88th birthday dinner party and gave wonderful toasts, told me the origin of our State of South Carolina motto.  It was the motto of our namesake, King Charles I.  He wrote it all his life in the front page of his books along with his name.

If only while he breathed and hoped he had called British Parliament to meet, King Charles I may have managed to keep his head.  As it was, for this offense, Parliament, under the rule of Oliver Cromwell, said, “Off with his head!” As King Charles I was bound as a common criminal and led to the gallows, he objected to this undignified treatment.  His chaplain said, “Do you not see that this is the last likeness to our Lord and Savior Jesus, who like you was treated as a common criminal?”  With that word, Charles I went quietly to his death.

Our guys, who were given Carolina,  the eight lords proprietors, were on his side.  These eight lords risked their own lives and properties to REESTABLISH the monarchy after it had been abolished in a very memorable way.  Cromwell had the head of King Charles I stuck on one of the spokes of the Houses of Parliament.  When Oliver Cromwell died of natural causes and his son Richard Cromwell proved ineffectual, these eight lords got together to reestablish the monarchy, searching high and low for the king’s son, Charles 11, who had been chased like a fox by the hounds all over Great Britain by the Puritans. He had found refuge in France where he was raised like a member of the court of France and as a Catholic, the only option, when France was burning French Huguenots at the stake. To be king of England, Charles II had to give up Catholicism and become Anglican, which became The Church of England.  In appreciation, Charles II gave these eight lords this land from where I write, called Carolina, which was North and South Carolina, Georgia, and large parts of Florida. By the way, Charles II also stuck Cromwell’s head on the spokes of the Houses of Parliament with the difference being Cromwell had been dead for quite some time.

Thus began the reign of the Merry Monarch during whose reign we were established. This period in England is known as The Restoration Period, when England was restored to herself.  The history of Great Britain is that of being a monarchy. Artwork and literature and theater life came out of the Restoration Period.  Ask to see our Hogarth etching original from the copper plate.  I gave it to our daughter, Olivia, for her 21st birthday because she had studied the Restoration Period that  summer at Oxford University.  As theaters reopened in London that had been closed during the Puritan era, we here in Charles Town built the first theater in America, the Dock Street Theater, then “little more than a barn at the corner of Church and the Streete which leadeth to the Docks.”  Adam style woodwork from the Thomas Radcliffe House was recycled into its drawing rooms in the 1930s making it a more elegant drawing card for theater life today. Search out what is playing for your visit and order tickets now, especially if coming later during the Spoleto Festival in late May and early June.

June and I do the tours as you call for reservations on weekdays only as we take you to private houses and gardens of hospitable friends who love us.  We are blessed to share the blessings with those of you who appreciate the sacrificial spirit of hospitality still alive in America. We look forward to hearing from you.  Thank you for reading.  It is a fascinating history we have here.  I can’t wait to show you what I am writing about.  Laura Wichmann Hipp 843-708-2228

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 13, Antiques Shop Til We Drop Tour, Calamondin Marmalade, Charleston Food and Wine Festival, Charleston in spring, Charleston Wine and Food Festival, Easter in Charleston, Festival of Houses, for foodies, Founding Fathers, Gardening, Uncategorized

The Acorn Motif, and other American Symbols of Thankfulness and Hospitality

Another year older, another year deeper in debt, in debt to my mother and father, Marianne and Fred Wichmann for my life; to The One who gave me breath and an added year to my purpose here on earth; to The One  who teaches me to “so number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom”.

I am blessed with the exclusive privilege of taking my tours into the home of the doctor who delivered me over a half century ago.  It is an Antebellum home in the Greek Revival style. There, in the Antebellum arch over wide pocket doors, is carved the Acorn Motif, under which you can imagine ladies in hoop skirts in the 1850’s-60’s. This house was the home of a signer of the Ordinance of Secession, Wm. Pinckney Schingler. Miraculously his two houses in Charleston survived both the War Between the States and the Great Conflagration of 1861 that went right through this block.

Why the Acorn?  This year my eye focused on this motif being repeated all around Charleston.  Most noticeably it is in the Edmondston-Alston House at 21 East Battery, where I got my training from my college days and after graduation where I was the second in charge of this museum house open to the public. Into focus came a 19th century photograph of High Battery that is blown up at my husband’s Yacht Club that I have seen repeatedly.  This time I noticed in the photo that the posts of the Battery Wall had Acorn Finials. My friend through a series of miracles bought a house on lower King a few doors down from my mother’s.  There on her first morning I found that her brick columns are ornamented with the SAME Acorns I had seen in the 19th century Battery Wall photo, acorns that no longer exist atop the posts of the Battery wall. Why is this exciting to me? Because of the symbolism.  Our Founding Fathers were wanting to carry on a message encrypted if you will in the everyday world around them SO THAT WE WOULD REMEMBER.

What was the symbolism?

I tell you on location as we stand under the arch where the Acorn wood carvings are.  I don’t want to spoil it for you by telling you now, though it is tempting.  The sublime simplicity is a story worth telling and worth hearing with the history that puts it in context.  It takes the whole tour to “get it”.  This unveiling of symbolism with quotes from primary sources is why I was an English major and history minor. I quote the literary people and Founding Fathers and patriarchs who were more eloquent than I, whose words are worth repeating in the power and beauty of the spoken word  as we gaze at the magnificent architecture of a bygone era.

The number THIRTEEN is an American symbol as well as the Acorn.  There is nothing unlucky for us in this number for of course we were founded as Thirteen Colonies.  The Founding Fathers were very tuned in to the number thirteen.  It contained the key to America’s success, to how we could be united across a continent, bigger than powerful countries of Europe put together.  Where did the key lie in the number thirteen?  “Though I speak with the tongue of men and of angels yet have not love, I am a noisy gong and clanging cymbal.” I Corinthians chapter 13. The number Thirteen is repeated on our one dollar bill in Thirteen stars and more.  Look with a magnifying glass.  Where do we see this number Thirteen in Charleston?  One of the most popular pieces of furniture that all my relatives have in their Charleston houses is the secretary desk with two glass doors.  Each door is a Chippendale design with Thirteen panes. It is for a moment in the recent film, War Room. Though designed by Thomas Chippendale in England, it became a popular adopted American favorite and symbol.

George Washington warned in his Farewell Address of what Revelation chapter 13 warns of as well, another Thirteen, of which more Biblically literate past generations would have been familiar. “It is the nature of government to expand.  It must be kept under many checks and balances.” Revelation 13 warns of the day when government has grown so large that the earth has a One World Government, in order to have, as our present president says, “a level playing field.”

Because my eyes and ears are trained to look for symbolism as an English major and daughter of an English major and as one who was trained by an excellent Bible teacher from 9th grade on, I see and hear symbolism everywhere for myself, like an epiphany. Symbolism is in dreams and on the news. It is very simple once you see it. Why did the terrorists attack in Paris happen last Friday? It was chosen to be date to remember but also to point as a warning to America.  It happened on November 13.  The Thirteen points to America, which started with 13 colonies.  How did they choose the particular band concert?  They liked the name. Eagle and Death were in it.  America is the Eagle.  Our enemies want death to America and to our Judaeo-Christian Civilization.  They want us in retreat, the Lion, Great Britain, with the Great Eagle, plucked feather by feather, until naked and ineffectual, as the prophet Daniel foresaw in his visions where KINGDOMS RISE AND FALL.

Why the airplane bomb in the soda can?  What did the soda can say?  Shweppes? Gold?  Pineapple? Our enemies want to “sweep” their enemies out of their way, to make the value of our economy or “gold” drop, and they want our Judaeo-Christian open-door hospitality to blow up in our faces, represented by the pineapple, the symbol of hospitality.  Hospitality IS our gold, our way of life, our identity. If we stop being hospitable to strangers, we will lose the magic that makes this country great.  Our enemies can take away everything, our comfort and ease, our heat and air by the grid, but they can never take our free will.  We have the power to choose our own Attitude toward them and to strangers.  Never underestimate the Power of Free Will.

My mother was naturally shy and in the bombings of WWll did not do any entertaining growing up. Doing the tours and bringing them to her garden for tea was a big step of hospitality for her.  I inherited a plaque from her which says,

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2.

There is a remnant in every tribe, every tongue, and every nation that has ears to hear and eyes to see.  WE have the Good News they need.  These troubled times call for being “wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.” “The price of Liberty is eternal vigilance.”

Why else might the word pineapple  have been the choice of the can pictured by those who claimed to have been responsible for the Russian bound plane? I wonder if it was meant to bring a shudder to one particular person.  Where do pineapples grow? Where is our president from?  Where did World War II start for America? We must humble ourselves and ask protection for all leaders in authority as well as those brave enough to run for the presidential office. Let us not deceive ourselves. These acts of terrorism are the implements of war and world domination through intimidation. “Are we disposed to be of the number of those who have eyes but see not, and having ears hear not the things that so nearly concern our temporal salvation?  Let us know the whole truth,”said  Patrick Henry.

Our 17 year old dreamed the night before the thirteenth that evil was after her in the form of a robot.  It was a long nightmare saved by the ending where she was cornered with no escape.  She and I in the dream started singing Amazing Grace.  Soon the whole world was singing with us and the evil was rendered null and void. These are not the things I say on the tour, but “the times, they are a changin.” Writing gives me more space to share thoughts. We all want some answers and direction. “The lamp of experience must guide our feet. We judge the future by the past,” said Patrick Henry. Thomas Jefferson bought a copy of the Koran to understand the Muslim religion and laws to see why Barbary Coast pirates targeted us. The second half of their holy book reveals their orders, to kill the infidels, the Christians and Jews, wherever you find them. We study history and art and literature to understand our present state; otherwise, “The people perish for lack of knowledge.”

For small tours of 2-4 people call June at 843-577-5896.  For small groups of 5 or more call me, Laura, at 843-708-2228.  We are excited about the history and the choice properties we are privileged to share because the Spirit of Hospitality is still alive in The Holy City of Charleston. We remember who we are, from generation to generation. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave.  May the circle be unbroken, I show you in the Guilloche pattern of architecture.    Laura Wichmann Hipp

Leave a comment

Filed under 13, Acorn motif, Antebellum Charleston, breaking routine, Eagle, entertaining, Founding Fathers, Greek Revival, King St., Manners in Charleston, Mother-Daughter Tour, museum houses before or after private tour, pineapple, Shemitah