Should you or should you not subscribe to the ceremony that is Valentine’s Day, might the question of its origins have cropped into your consciousness for at least a fleeting moment on 14th February’s past? 

Though it is recognised as a day of romantic celebration across countries far and wide, recounting its hazy history is not a story that many can narrate with the matched ease that we might for calendar events such as Bonfire Night. This is perhaps partly due to the lack of a sole Saint Valentine figure to whom we can look. Indeed there are said to have been three saints named Valentine – or Valentinus – within the Catholic Church. The tales tied to all three are markedly mysterious, yet they are united by a shared narrative of figures who were sympathetic, heroic and most crucially, romantic. Much-recited stories include clandestine weddings held by Saint Valentine,  and another such Saint Valentine who when imprisoned fell in love with the daughter of his captor and wrote to her before his death, signing it, from your Valentine. It is an expression widely used in Valentine’s cards to this day.

While the history of Valentine’s Day has no clear, single figure to whom it is dedicated, many believe there is a reason for it falling in February each year. Herein, lies the link with Ancient Rome and its pagan fertility festival, Lupercalia, which took place at the ides of February, and resulted in the union of man and woman. It is said that the Christian church offered a version of the festival, placing a Saint Valentine’s feast in the middle of this, the shortest month. As time passed and Christiany prevailed, Lupercalia was outlawed and at the close of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius pronounced 14th February as Saint Valentine’s Day.

Much later did the heady, romantic rituals become intertwined with 14th February. During the Middle Ages in both France and England, the view was held that the date signalled the beginning of mating season for many birds, which encouraged nations to associate Saint Valentine’s Day with love, fertility and romance. This was reiterated in English poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem, Parliament of Foules, “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day, whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.” 

With the rise and fall of each new century, Valentine’s Day celebrations became all the more amorous in countries including Canada, Australia, France, America and Great Britain, amongst others. By the middle point of the 18th century, it was quite common for friends and lovers to exchange tokens and hand-written notes of affection, regardless of class. Advancements in printing technology allowed Valentine’s Day cards to soar in popularity in the 1900s, thus the power of the written word cemented it as a day for arduous expressions of love and deep devotion. 

While the history and Saint Valentine figure continue to be shrouded in mystery with scholars disputing that fact is, in effect fiction, there is no question that somewhere, somehow and thanks to a certain someone, love and the 14th February became one. To part ways they never have, and we very much hope never will.

For gifting inspiration, peruse our collection here. 

 

Are you about to set upon springtime ridding and reorganisation rituals? Is a closet calling out to be decluttered, or perhaps a utility room wishing for storage that is easily and always in reach? Enter then, ever so calmly and ever so quietly, two companions that will aid you in achieving both. 

Unsung heroes, the hook and rail duo will affix to hallway walls to hold onto keys, a dog lead, and hats bobble-topped or wide-rimmed – depending on the season. Similarly, the wall space above the kitchen sink or stove is ripe for a rail with utensils, bundles of fresh herbs, pots, pans and wooden-handled scrubbing brushes dangling from S-shaped hooks. 

In tandem do they come, both hook and rail thrive independently too. A hook is not simply for the backs of doors for towels, coats and robes, but an entity from which mirrors can be hung or even the dust pan and brush. Similarly, rails ask not always for a wall, but may be fitted to the end of a run of cabinetry for tea cloths to rest, idly but gladly.

See the Full Hardware Collection here.

 

Now that winter’s unrelenting downpours have momentarily ceased – even if just for a handful of days – it gives rise to a perspective of brightness over bleakness. Observe closely as shoots and buds begin to sprout, as morning light starts to show its mellower side, and as the hour for lambs frolicking and wagging their tails in nearby fields draws ever closer. 

It is at this time – the first month of a new year and when the first sightings of spring are spotted – that we reflect on how the home is a habitat for new beginnings too. 

Might you prefer to reinvest in what you already call your own, casting belongings in a fresh light to encourage you to fall in love with them all over again? Cushions relocated from sitting room sofa to bedspread, pantry jars emptied of grains and pulses to be refilled with bath salts and cotton balls, and candlesticks placed into a new context, be it a window ledge or hearth rather than on the kitchen table, can feel as though a never-before-seen character has been newly welcomed to the nest. 

For it is when you take hold of items truly timeless in nature that you open up the opportunity of appreciating them time, and time, again. 

Peruse our promise of timelessness here.

 

Once December’s dashing and prancing is all but complete, allow not a dampened sense of spirit to take hold in January’s five long weeks. See this as a time to reset, stepping back, slowing down, taking stock, counting blessings, restoring fully, and remerging only when your pace is a steady one.

Named so after Janus, the Roman god of fresh beginnings and transitions, January presents the most natural invitation to turn over a new leaf. Blossom then beautifully 2020, gently teasing you out of winter’s grip to sway serenely into spring, which stirs as we speak – out of sight, though certainly not out of mind.

Have and hold in your home therefore those possessions of ease and simplicity. Objects that call out to be gazed at for more than a fleeting moment and whose tactility reminds you to savour the small things. For these are what encapsulate January’s much overlooked ability to enrich the everyday.

 

The plates have been cleared, the figgy pudding devoured, the gifts unwrapped and the carols sung. In the days of Christmas past, recoup gently before the desire to host once more takes hold and New Year’s Eve comes into plain sight. 

In response to the question that so many of you wrote in to ask us – what will we be serving our guests for 2019’s closing act? – let us present our delectable seasonal Negroni. Spiced with star anise, scented with orange rind, garnished with burnt rosemary, and served in the fair hands of our Clara flared glasses, it is an apéritif aspiring to toast to a year been and (almost) gone.

In the place of the much-expected gin measure, this cocktail introduces English sparkling wine (or Prosecco, though we favour keeping things local wherever possible). To lighten its heady concoction, pour your choice of fizz to the top of the glass and you might perhaps be able to enjoy more than just one. 

 

Ingredients

Per serving

25ml Campari

25ml sweet vermouth 

25ml English sparkling wine

1 star anise

1 shaving of orange rind

1-2 fresh rosemary sprigs 

1 large ice cube 

 

Steps for serving 

1. Decant all three, equally-measured liquids into a cocktail shaker. Tumble vigorously for a few moments to combine.

2. Place a single, large ice cube (for these chill the cocktail best without quickly diluting) in the Clara glass and slowly pour the Negroni blend on top. 

3. Drop a star anise into the glass followed by the orange rind. Before adding the rosemary, light it at one end so that it begins to char, and then delicately place it into the liquid. It should naturally extinguish itself and remain slightly smouldering so that you enjoy a richer fragrance as you sip. You may wish to add a second sprig for a stronger botanical note. 

 

To watch our winter Negroni being made and served, we invite you to watch our short, festive film. And from all of us at Rowen & Wren, we wish you the happiest of new years. 

 

Throughout the festive period, our deliveries will be slightly slower than usual while our warehouse team are at home with loved ones for Christmas. 

So, simply note that should you place an order between 23rd December–2nd January, it will sit safely and patiently until everyone returns. The moment that it is on its way to you, our couriers will contact you to inform you of your delivery date. 

Our care team will also return on 2nd January should you have any questions or need a helping hand. You may reach them on 01276 451 077 or enquiries@rowenandwren.co.uk.

Wishing you the merriest of Christmases. 

 

Now that the prospect draws ever closer of bestowing upon the dining table turkey and its respective trimmings, attention should deservedly be paid to dressing for the occasion. Here, we refer not to guest attire but to spreading festive cheer to tabletop decoration so that food and flourishes perform the most enchanting ensemble.

Come forth candlelit centrepieces to draw everybody in, behold glassware to mark the occasion most handsomely, and dedicate generous time and creative attention to the many which ways to present what emerges from the stove. For the truest of festive feasts begins with what you see first and taste moments later…

Browse our Gather and Feast Collection here. 

 

At this point of the year, promotions present themselves each way you turn. But at Rowen & Wren, we have always instead favoured donating as opposed to discounting when Black Friday happens upon us.

Each year, we choose to donate a portion of sales made on Black Friday to a charity close to our hearts. This, we feel, is a more worthy cause and a more kind-hearted agenda, so that together, we can give back.

Should you decide to purchase anything from us tomorrow, Friday 29th November, know that 10% will be gifted to The Honey Pot – a young carers charity local
to the home of Rowen & Wren.

We can but hope that our contribution will be some source of support in giving a child a chance at childhood.

Is there not something deeply enriching about stepping back for a moment to be nothing but recognisant of our lot? To be thoughtful and to be thankful about what life has brought our way, to appreciate the minutiae and the major in our circumstances, to eat, drink and be merry much before Christmastime descends in full fervour?

Over the oceans do those live who come together to celebrate the holiday that is Thanksgiving. Whether your home is found here or it is more a case of you paying homage to a cherished cultural norm, we are firm advocators of opening our minds and hearts to true expressions and reflections of gratitude.

So come forth 28th November – an occasion to surround yourself with the finest of food and the dearest of fellows and a shared sense of appreciation for all and sundry.

 

CHRISTMASTIME DELIVERIES – A BRIEF NOTE

For those whose attention is turning in the direction of gifting and decorating for the forthcoming festivities, know that you we have made our Christmas delivery cut-off date as late as we possibly can.

You will have until midday on Friday 20th December to make up your mind and we pledge to still be able to deliver it to you in time for the night before Christmas. For last-moment furniture however, festive delivery dates are unique to your postcode. Simply speak to our care team to see when is the latest we could deliver to your home address.

Begin browsing our Christmas Collection here.

From the ashes of Bonfire Night does a sense of magic rise. By now, mindsets have moulded, ready to warmly greet winter’s presence. By now, thoughts of candied peel and spice-dusted wines tempt, rather than rush us before we’re ready to bid adieu to autumn. By now, carolling and Christmas card writing is a pastime to anticipate merrily. For it is when Christmas moves slowly onto the horizon that we appreciate it most.


Browse our Christmastime Collection here. 

‘To have and to hold’. Such phrasing rushes to mind whenever we create a new piece for our hardware collection. Be it a cabinet pull or a hallway hook, to overlook a home’s staples is to overlook an opportunity in quiet beauty.

Take note that such beauty is not purely visual. The smoothed contours of a door’s handle traced by palms and fingertips, the serene glide of S-hooks as they are drawn down the length of a rail, the sublimely satisfying pegging-into-place of towels and robes over a helpful hook – there’s beauty to be found in the most fleeting of motions.

It is with this level of slow thought and fastidious detail that our new hardware collection was sculpted.

It is now that every piece comes into full view.

See the full hardware collection here. 

Autumn is here to be savoured. In the blink of an eye, the golden haze, the russet leaves, and the orange strewn pumpkin patches fade from view to be displaced by winter’s formidable form. 

Take hold of every moment that autumn presents. Crunch fallen leaves, collect conkers, and tonight, go forth and carve a pumpkin, or two. 

See our Autumnal Collection here. 

Does a product not become all the more beautiful when the story behind it is a happy one? A tale of integrity, honesty, heart and soul? For us, the answer here is a resounding yes, and it is why when curating our collections, we gather close only those pieces with such beauty radiating from within.The materials and the maker contribute just as greatly to your home’s tapestry.

It is, therefore, with the utmost pleasure that we share the wares of British ceramicist, Rebecca Williams. What was once a peaceful pastime has become an enriching vocation that sees her in her pottery workshop, hands deftly sculpting, fingers rhythmically guiding from-the-earth clay into her homely, hand-made ceramics.

To pass hands over one of her potter’s wheel pieces is to cherish a true labour of love.

View our short, studio film here.

Like a moth to a flame are we drawn to the gratifyingly humble and at once comforting kitchen table. Whether laden with fresh-from-the-toaster crumpets and a still-whistling teapot at sunrise, or a trivet topped with a casserole pot and bowls waiting to be filled come supper, it beckons always with a promise of nourishment and delectable delights.  Even when laid bare, the memory of meals eaten upon it and the anticipation of feasts to follow around it make the kitchen table a sight to savour.

 Underestimate not, therefore, the pleasures to be had in dressing it at each opportune moment all autumn long. Tuck cutlery into linen pockets for the simplest of suppers, reach for a tablecloth even for a briefest of breakfasts, and let there always be a matchbox just an arm’s stretch away for bathing your tabletop in the gentlest of glows for any mealtime repose.

 

For us, and we should suspect for many of you too, the enjoyment of a meal comes not only from the food itself but from the setting in which we dine and the care that goes into preparing each delicious dish. Whether it’s a last minute, rustic picnic, or a spectacular Sunday roast with all the trimmings, each and every element of any considered repast benefits from a mindful approach to preparation, cooking and presentation.

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” – Thich Nhat Hanh”

In savouring, blissful moments present themselves that we wish never to curtail, and the seasons elongate as our senses become heightened to the subtle changes in our ingredients. Cooking and setting the table have become increasingly conscious practices and one of our greatest inspirations for each is the Our Food Stories blog.

The two talented women that write and run it, food stylist Laura Muthesius and photographer Nora Eisermann, combine their perfectly attuned skills to lure us into a world of unique recipes set against magical backdrops.

Their work combines an ever-present love of design with a powerful passion for food. Their revered recipes leave us wistfully pondering what we’re going to make for dinner tomorrow. And their tales from afar have us dreaming of where we should wander for our next adventure.

What we adore most is the fact that just as much thought, care and attention to detail goes into their table settings as into the food itself. There is a story to be told with each individual recipe and the considered styling helps bring that story to life for their guests.

Laura and Nora’s food-first storytelling goes beyond their own kitchen and follows them around the world to some beautiful destinations where they always “search for the most charming houses with a kitchen”. They say, “cooking with local ingredients is how we get to know the food in another country” – we can’t think of a better way to truly understand the individuality of a place.

Whether you’re looking for some dining table styling advice, food-first travel inspiration or you’re simply looking to spend more time in the kitchen experimenting with seasonal ingredients, we know you will feel taken care of by @ourfoodstories.