Mantlepieces: What does your mantlepiece tell us about you?

BBC Radio Four link
Driving past Loch Laggan and through Lochaber, and by Loch Linnhe through Glencoe this morning on a personal photoshoot, I had the car radio tuned to BBC Four. Woman’s Hour was on. My attention was drawn to an item about mantlepieces, and what human beings choose to put on them.

I had assumed – as did the presenter before her research – that frequently their content would be symmetrically arranged, feature clocks and matched candlesticks – a hangover from the years when clocks were particularly valuable items, and candles on the mantlepiece in front of the reflecting mirror backing them, would help to light the room. However it seems that whilst symmetry is still favoured by the majority, it is by no means the norm to have them loaded with one’s most valuable possessions, but frequently items which trigger memories of past generations, holidays, or of countries you may have worked in, in the past.

Do we have any takers for a contribution of your mantlepiece(s) as of now, and perhaps an explanation of why what is on it, means enough to you, to be there? Accompanying photographs for those brave enough to submit them would be welcome!

Author: coldwaterjohn

CWJ travelled extensively with his family, having worked in eleven countries over thirty years. A keen photographer, holding a Private Pilot's Licence, he focuses mainly on landscape and aerial imagery. Having worked in the Middle East extensively he follows developments in that region with particular interest, and views with growing concern, the radicalisation flowing from Islamic fundamentalism, and the intolerance for opposing views, stemming from it.

22 thoughts on “Mantlepieces: What does your mantlepiece tell us about you?”

  1. Yes it has! The post shows clearly that you were the last to edit it. Actually, while we are a bit mean about space, for a post as short as this you don’t really need to put a more tag in!

  2. As soon as I’ve cleaned out the ash and polished the glass on the log-burner, John, I’ll post a photo.


  3. Boa, come to think of it, we never had one anywhere in the Middle East either, and nor did we line up mementoes on the airconditioning outlets!

  4. I have a spooky mantelpiece story. Some years ago a few months after my grandmother died, a friend of mine and I made a Day of the Dead altar on the mantel for November 1. We were living in my grandmother’s house. We decorated the mantel with photos of my dead granny and my friend’s recently deceased relatives. One evening I came home and the altar, according to my friend, had burst into flames while she was out of the room. Fortunately, my friend had been level headed enough and extinguished the flames with water from the kitchen. Only pictures of my dead granny’s favorite husband had burned. Another friend remarked that granny had just taken her husband and returned to wherever she had gone.

    I don’t put anything on the mantelpiece.

  5. CWJ

    Our air-con outlets are in the ceilings! Quite impossible to put anything on those!

    We have lots of bookshelves, and there are (too many) knick-knacks on the tops and on the shelves in front of the books. Every one is a gift from someone important – so, despite the dusting, I’m loathe to put them away.

    There is only one photo in the whole house. My daughter bought a picture frame and put a school photo of my grandson, aged about five, in it. He was then given the job of wrapping it for me for Christmas. She got a shock when I opened it. He had removed the ‘boring’ school photo and replaced it with one of him garlanded with flowers from a trip to Hawaii. It lives with all his other presents over the years.

  6. At the moment our mantelpiece in France has lots of fragile things on it, because year old granddaughter has just visited and many items had to be moved higher up. So she concentrated on pulling books and DVDs out of a bookcase instead. We’ll clear the mantelpiece next time we’re there. Don’t have a mantelpiece in England. Sorry.

  7. Two real fires and no mantelpiece with either. I don’t think the yanks do them, very rarely seen here.
    But the sideboard is full of decanters! (full)
    The piano has hideous Mexican antique pottery belonging to spousal unit.
    Weird Hindu and Buddhist temple embroideries bought back by the boy on his travels.
    Bits of rocks collected by me.
    Plus more bizarre bits and pieces all over the place and too many rugs.
    I am known to run the ‘OLde Curiosity Shoppe’, people tend to totter round the formal living room like it is a museum it has so many artefacts.

  8. Ducks ( x2 wooden) a central clock (wedding present) a growing orchid (in a pot, I mean … not cut in a vase) a small pottery container (gift) and at the moment a line of birthday cards!

  9. We have no mantelpiece; we have a hideous grille style fire guard with lots of junk piled on top!

  10. A little late, but to add not much to the survey – A candle with a water thingy above it where one adds nice smelly oils, a Spanish Horse statue which was a leaving pressie, a vase with fake orchids and a photo of a sadly missed dalmation! Frightfully dull and English!

  11. Reminds me of a funny.

    She said “What’s on the Telly?”

    I said “Dust!”

    …and then the fight started. 😀

  12. Having asked for photo contributions from braver souls, I should perhaps lead from the back by example! One is from the TV Den and study, and the other from a more formal drawing room.
    Both seem to follow the symmetrical pattern – I am wondering if our brains are pre-wired to prefer balance…

  13. Yes, balance is the thing, although I took this very bad photograph of one of my mantelpieces, and the angles are very odd, but it looks quite symmetrical in real life.

    Ducks courtesy of my daughter!

  14. I didn’t include the fireplace because it is er full of cobwebs and logs at the moment.

    I must remember to call the chimney sweep; it needs de-sooting before I burn the house down.

  15. Dept. of Michael Caine Knowledge: chimney sweeping in Scandinavia is a mandatory, twice-yearly, gumbint controlled activity, designed to stop people making ashes of themselves. 🙂

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