Greenway's cabinet of curiosities

The cupboards in the Winter Dining Room at Greenway are filled with collections

We're highlighting curiosities of Greenway's collection throughout the year and inviting you to respond creatively to them. Perhaps an object suggests a character to you, a subtle plot, or a poem?

Greenway's curious collection

Traditionally a cabinet of curiosities might have contained curious objects from around the world, items from nature, and other intrigues. We have searched the collection at Greenway for things that are usually hidden away, and each month are bringing them into focus. In the Winter Dining Room each month's items will form the centre of a display in our 'cabinet of curiosities' and will feature here on the website along with a writing prompt.



A writing box at Greenway
A writing box on display at Greenway
A writing box at Greenway

Let's start with this delightful writing box, to inspire you to get your pens and paper at the ready.

Writing prompt for the month: consider a character associated with this box. It could be the person who made it, the person who commissioned it, the person it was made for, a person who was interested in buying it. Write a short description of this person, and a paragraph of their thoughts when they first saw the finished box. 

Find out more about the writing box by clicking here


The shell image usually hangs to the left of the fireplace
The Morning Room at Greenway
The shell image usually hangs to the left of the fireplace

In honour of Valentine's Day, February's curious collection item is a shell picture with a heart at its centre. It is usually found hanging in the Morning Room, but for this month is the centre of the exhibition in the Winter Dining Room. It's one of a pair of shell pictures, circa 1800. Similar pictures are thought to have been produced in shipping ports, for sailors to buy to bring home for their sweethearts. 

Writing prompt for the month: what do you think is special about Greenway? Could you write a love letter or poem to it, or choose another special place and dedicate your love letter to that? What is your special place like? Why do you love it? How does it make you feel?

See the shell picture in more detail by clicking here


This teapot is the centre of a display
A teapot on display at Greenway
This teapot is the centre of a display

In March, with Mother’s Day is in our thoughts, the exhibition is reflecting on afternoon tea and the celebration of spring. The object of the month is this cobalt blue ceramic teapot with gilt edging. Decorated with a white oval spring flower design. There’s nothing like a nice teapot to get a good brew,  and they are especially good for sharing. 

Writing tip for the month: would you like to write a poem or a reflection on taking tea or about your favourite spring flower? This can be an exercise in detail, where you consider all the senses. How does it smell? Be precise about size, colour and shape. Where is the flower found? What vessel is the tea in, and how does it sound, look and taste?

Take a look at the teapot by clicking here


The umbrella with egg-shaped handle is part of the cabinet of curiosities for April
A selections of umbrellas and walking sticks at Greenway
The umbrella with egg-shaped handle is part of the cabinet of curiosities for April

The Easter holidays are the focus of the cabinet during April. We've spotted quite a few egg-shapes in the collection around the house, and have chosen the object of the month as it ties in with both Easter and April showers. This umbrella has an decorative egg at the end of its handle made from tigers eye. 

Writing tip for the month: think about the hand that holds this unusual umbrella handle. You could write a short character description of one or two paragraphs, or a poem about April showers. 

Find out more about the umbrella by clicking here


May and beyond

You'll soon be able to see here what the key item will be, and find out about the writing prompt for the month. Throughout the year, the curious collection's key items will be listed here before they go on display, so please do check back to find out what's coming up.