Battleaxe and a glass hoard somewhere in darkest East Sussex…

Battleaxe is still here, but isn’t telling you where… The place needs to remain a mystery. A hidden, more than slightly dilapidated collection of railway arches, approached down an overgrown path, containing at least 500 bulging banana boxes of ornamental glass, plus many, many hundreds of pieces lurking dustily on shelves. It all belongs to Andy McConnell of Antiques Road Show fame. He has decided that the time has come to sort/dispose of this hoard, collected/acquired over a lifetime.

Andy’s arches

So what on earth is Battleaxe doing there? Well, a few weeks ago Andy asked people he knew to help him with this massive project. There are about 15 people signed up, some of whom are local, some live miles away… It was all going to be very casual and easy-going. Andy said he’d talk about the pieces as they were  sorted. Well, those who know Battleaxe know that I am very fond of glass – especially mid-century Murano and Mdina. Just earlier on friend Shaun and his friend – sorry, I can’t type that Nordic O with the line through it – looked at my glass collection. I was quite embarrassed, it so needs a wash. I only tend to wash it all every couple of years,  and it is blutacked to its shelves to stop Digby the cat knocking anything over. (good household hint that from Battleaxe). Oh, do keep to the point. I also really like to learn, but above all else I love to organise and get things done. Andy, sez I to him before we started, I know how knowedgeable you are and how much you love to talk, so this project could take years….

The mystery glass hoarder…

Anyway, suffice it to say that Battleaxe, plus two others and Andy, went over to the mystery place this week, to get the job started. There was even more glass than I thought… more glass than you could ever believe. It all has to be washed – and all the pieces on the open shelves are very dirty indeed – each box carefully unpacked – all those pieces need washing as well…. and sorted into damaged to throw away, not saleable to go to charity, saleable either for Ebay/Etsy or the better pieces for auction. My colleagues were Tess, who knows lots about glass and is very energetic and enthusiastic, and Simon, a practical bloke who once worked for Burstow and Hewitt, the auctioneers. There was a bit of rushing about, shrieking and chaos initially, but we established a system, and Battleaxe soon decided to chill, switch off and muck in.  Andy looks at every piece before its fate is decided… and we quickly realised that he absolutely had to. I was filling a boxful for charity, and I’d hold something up to Andy and say ‘Charity? Come on, nobody is going to buy that, it’s like something off my Mum’s dressing table.’  90% of the time I’d get it right, but the other 10%? No… that’s eighteenth century. No… that’s a rare early Orrefors…  Not that my Mum had eighteenth century glass on her dressing table.

One of Andy’s great passions is decanters – he has written a book about them. There must be hundreds.  He showed us how to wash out their insides by shaking a cupful of soapy lead shot inside them. Very fiddly, and you have to be dead careful not too shake too hard… But who uses decanters these days, however beautiful? Mind you, in the novel I am writing the Bishop has a decanter of sherry on his ormulu sideboard… crikey you say what sort of tosh are you writing? Oh look, its OK, the black lesbian vicar swigs the lot without even bothering with a glass….

It turned out to be good fun, and very interesting. Sure, it will take a long time, and Andy is busy for several days in the week, but I’ll definitely go back for more. It fits into Battleaxe’s new approach to volunteering – getting things done while doing things I enjoy without having to take on massive responsibility or get stuck with the same things I did at work. Not sure about wet days or when the winter approaches though.

I wrote a post about Battleaxe’s visit to the Antiques Roadshow back in 2019. I took Andy one of my best Mdina vases to look at. Here is the post. Battleaxe and Philosopher have largely got bored of the Antiques Roadshow now. Rarely watch it, and anyway I can’t stand Fiona Bruce.

So, to finsih up, here’s an extremely unflattering selfie I took of the four of us. Battleaxe looks demented.


  1. Valerie Poore
    May 26, 2023 / 7:53 pm

    I’d say that is a really fascinating project. Good for you! It sounds fun as well, albeit a bit of a grubby job.

  2. Anne
    August 22, 2023 / 3:14 pm

    That’s an awful lot of bananas…….

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