Archive for keys

Left holding the Keys

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, DESIGN, HISTORY, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA with tags , , , , on April 2, 2010 by echostains

medieval casket key

I love old keys.  We even found a massive one in the cellar of our house, and we’ve no idea what lock it was supposed to fit.  The previous owners said that the owners before them said it belonged to the house.  It must have belonged to a massive door which we can’t find….

Alice tries the Golden key

I was always intrigued by the key that Alice finds in Wonderland.  Keys are always symbolically linked with finding the way into other worlds or secret places.   When we lose our keys – we lose the keys to our worlds!  Dramatic? Of course!

the secret garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

When a key appears in a story, you just know it’s going to be a good tale.  I’m thinking of Alice in Wonderland, The Secret garden’ and ‘The Golden Key by the Brothers Grimm to name a few.

Keys have been around a long time.  Just look at this Roman key.  The Romans learnt how to cast from the Greeks but the Egyptians had locks too.  Keys are associated with locked towers (usually with maidens waiting to be rescued), treasure chests, rites of passage (key to the door when you are 21 years of age) and prison.

a chatelaine

In Medieval times the Chatelaine was a very important memeber of the household.  She was the lady of the house (castle) who held all the keys.  She wore her keys on what is known as a Chatelain – an ornamental appendage attached to the girdle of the woman.  the keys to the wine, the cellars, caskets, as well as handy household items like scissors, thimbles etc.  these were all attached by small individual chains to each items.

Edmund Blair Leighton 'The Keys'

Keys are  associated with freedom or captivity of course and have provided many TV programmes involving rescue and escape .  But they  also have been used in paintings too.  Edmund Blair Leighton  (b.London 1853 -22) an English painter of historical scenes painted ‘The Keys’.  I don’t know why there isn’t more information about this Victorian artist.  His subject matter and his style is most Pre Raphaelite.  He did a wealth of paintings – all very beautiful, see them all HERE


Wonderful and interesting Roman keys here

Roman locks here

Gorgeous treasure hunting keys here

information about chatelaines here

John Tenniel gallery here

The Secret Garden, read it here