Saddle Stones

The Staddle or Saddle Stone:  It is a low mushroom shaped stone arrangement of a conical bottom (cone like shape) with a flat or slightly domed shaped circular stone resting on top.

 Many times these stones were made of a single stone, but most often the merging of the two shapes.  They date from the 17th and 18th centuries and were developed through “need”.  They were practical foundation stones which kept wooden structures from rotting, with the cap also acting as a barrier to vermin trying to gain access to stores of hay, grain or game.

These two saddle stones were recently housed at our Architectural Antique Shop -RF ANTIQUES- but, because they are quite coveted by avid gardeners or those wanting to own a piece of history and something unusual, we do not keep them long in our courtyard!

Below you can see how the stones support a wooden structure.

7above picture is compliments of

Staddle stones:

They can be mainly found used as support devices in England, Galicia and Asturias (Northern Spain).ancient (CELTIC) graneries in ANCARES, Galicia (Spain):

These magical toadstool like stone structures, found in England and northern Spain, Image result for map images of NW Spain to the country of Franceoften times they make their way across the border into France — These functional stones (originating in medieval times) were used as agricultural building supports, holding up granaries, haystacks and beehives to  allow air circulation underneath.  Whether these were used in France as support systems or for grinding as the quern stone, leads us to believe because of Frances’ proximity to Spain they very well could have adapted the practice.


Below are bee hives being kept off the ground by the saddle stones.

Over time it was realized that original wooden structures used for support were not as long lived AND could not support weight as nicely as stone.  However, some (but not typically) staddles were also made of iron as shown below holding up a hayrick. (The Chiltern Open Air Museum [photo: A.Reeve])

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Many staddle or saddle stones are covered with lichen which adds to their value.

ANNIE SELKE'S PICK - Pair of Large 19th Century English Staddle Stones - $2400.:

picture from (pinterest)

As with hay carts, shapes of saddle stones are peculiar to counties and regions. Always carved from the local stone, the archetypal (very typical of a certain kind of person or thing) four-sided stone base with circular cap is common to the Cotswolds,Image result for images of staddle stones

however a conical base would indicate a staddle stone from Hampshire.Staddle Stone:

17th Century French Staddle Stones 1

Just looking at these “base supports” one can see its functionality:  the base stones taper towards the top with an overlapping cap stone placed above, making it almost impossible for a rodent to climb up and into the hay or grain stored above. The air could freely circulate beneath the stored crops and this helped to keep it dry.  A very simple, functional idea.

Granary sitting on staddle stones at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum.

The word staddle comes from the Old English word stathol or base. In German the word stadal means barn. In the US, staddle stones were used as boundary stones to mark corners of a property. Today, they can be placed in a woodland garden as a focal point, or as bollards along a road or to mark an entrance.

So charming and unusual !!

We hope you have enjoyed this post and learned something new!  When you visit our garden antique shop in Fairhope, Alabama or visit England, France or Spain and see these unusual mushroom shaped stone structures you will be very attune to what their original function was developed for!

above picture compliments of and some borrowed from , Pinterest.  All pictures utilized from an internet source is for sharing information only of this unusual antique.

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!







Easter Chocolate in France!

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Celebrating Easter in France is very much a part of the French culture, and many of the French Easter traditions directly relate back to the fact that much of the country (about ninety percent) considers itself Roman-Catholic. Whether they are truly practicing Roman Catholics or not, Easter is a major holiday celebrated by all.

The Easter-chocolate season begins weeks before the actual date. French people start celebrating it by exchanging chocolates with friends, family, and of course they do give a lot of chocolates to the children —  In Paris a traditional cake representing an Easter egg nest is prepared in many pâtisseries and when they appear in their windows we know that Easter is around the corner.

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One of the most wonderful things about Easter in France is the consumption of CHOCOLATE – as you read on you will see how  traditions tie in with religious connotations of Easter.

As I, you may have thought that France is only about its wine and cheese and specialty meats — you know, like escargo!  But, the French have a very strong obsession with CHOCOLATE.  This little Chocolate Obsession reaches it peaks at Easter.  There are more than 300 chocolate (patisserie/chocolatier) shops across Paris alone.

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The origins of chocolate in France dates back to 1615, when France’s King Louis XIII married Anne of Austria, daughter of the Spanish king. She was the one who brought hot chocolate to the French court. So it’s now almost 400 years when chocolate is in France.

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The relationship French people have with Chocolate may have started with a cup of hot chocolate, but it’s one relationship that has stood the test of time.  The French today incorporate chocolate into mealtime at some point during the day and often times it starts with breakfast!  Croissants or pain au chocolate are choices high on the list – sweet breakfasts are popular in France as you would rarely, if ever, see scrambled eggs and bacon being eaten!!

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A tid bit is that this buttery croissant originated in 17th-Century in Vienna, Austria.  And it was Queen Marie-Antoinette, originally from Vienna, who introduced the Austrian pastry to the French Court during the 18th Century.

And while we know Marie Antoinette probably didn’t say, “Let them eat eggs”, or even “Let them eat cake”, we do know that the croissant she did eat as a comfort food that reminded her of her homeland.  That original Austrian bread has evolved into the famous French croissant as we know it today.

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And of course, the French love their chocolate desserts!  The most famous French chocolate desserts are chocolate mousses, crepes with chocolate, eclairs, and chococlate tarts , and we cannot forget about chocolate macarons.

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So, celebrating Easter in France is exceptional as it comes to chocolate eating!!  For this festive time, many pâtisseries-chocolateries are performing the real art creating chocolate edible pieces in different shapes with the French traditional ones being:   Easter bunnies, Image result for images of bunniwa made of chocolate

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Easter Bells,

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Easter Hens and little Easter Fish called “Fritures de Pâques’(those are small fish-shaped chocolates and is the symbol of Christianity).

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Bells and fish are unique to French Easter customs, but why are eggs?  The egg is a symbol of life and renewal close to catholic beliefs of the resurrection of Christ.   It was forbidden to eat eggs during Lent.  In French tradition the eggs are brought by the Easter Bells on their way back  from Rome.

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The Chocolate Fish?  Image result for images of chocolate fish in franceApril Fools Day occurs around the time of Easter. In France, the tradition is that children play a trick on as many adults as possible by sticking paper fish onto their backs and running away. They have a great day and every time that they manage to trick a grown-up they run away shouting out “Poisson d´avrill“ which means “April fish“.

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The chocolate Easter bunny in France?  It starts with a tradition of Germanic and Nordic origin and was initiated in the Alsace region of France which eventually spread over the country.

Children create nests with leaves, moss or grass which they place in the garden, hoping that during the night they would be filled up with multi-coloured (and chocolate) eggs. Unlike elsewhere in France, the bells are not the chosen ones to distribute the eggs. Because of the GERMAN influence in this area, this important task is given to the Easter Hare (der Osterhase). On the night before Easter, the Easter Hare either puts the baskets filled with eggs and treats in the children’s nest or hides them somewhere in the house or garden.

Image result for images of easter baskets hidden in the gardenWhen they wake up on Easter morning, the children go on an exciting egg and basket hunt!

Influences from different countries well over 400 years ago have evolved within the country of France and similarities are shared here in the US.

It is again a connection that we have with France!

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Happy Easter – Joyeuses Paques

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

images for this post are from the internet/pinterest/ and elsewhere – they are used for informational purposes only related to this post

The French Formal Garden

The French formal garden, also called the jardin à la française, is a style of garden based on symmetry and the principle of imposing order on nature.

The entrance to the garden begins the journey.

FIVE of the most famous and beautiful gardens in France

  • Monet’s Garden – in Giverny France (an old province of Normandy)
  • The Gardens of Versailles – in Versailles France
  • Château de Villandry – in the Loire Valley of France – formal gardens with a maze
  • Jardin des Tuileries – found right in the heart of Paris – 1st arrondissment
  • Bagatelle Gardens – in Paris in the 16th arrondissement

This post will focus only on Versailles ‘ gardens – an abbreviated nod to the  importance of  gardens,  fountains and sculptures.

The Entrance to Versailles and its Gardens

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Below you see the grande scale to which Versailles was envisioned circa 1789

1920s Leconte Map of Versailles Gardens | 1664 Franse tuin: koppeling landschaft & macht, symmetrie, Axialität/allignment -> intimidatie, structuur, natuur wordt 'aangepast' machtspel, 'touwtjes in de hand', onderwerping en dominatie:

Versailles was originally a country village with great hunting; today, however, it is a suburb of Paris, some 16 kilometers (10 miles) southwest of the French capital.

The palace was built to impress. “Versailles is a mirage, a sumptuous and theatrical entertainment. It is also a manifestation of glory and power imposed to a great extent by art, luxury, and magnificence.”

The Garden of Versailles is spread across 1,976 acres, and is one of the biggest gardens in the world. 210,000 flowers and 200,000 trees are planted annually in The Garden of Versailles. In 1979, the gardens along with the château were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

It is the most acclaimed example of formal French garden design, and is famous for its geometrically aligned terraces, tree-lined paths, ponds and canals.

The palace….Related image was chock full of paintings and sculptures, ornately designed rooms.  As well, Louis XIV attached a supreme importance to water effects.   He wanted fountains within a series of gardens, created in a formal style, that contained sculptures as well as pressurized fountains capable of launching water high into the air.

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The marvel of the gardens of Versailles – then as now – is the fountains. It has 50 spectacular fountains with 620 jets, which were installed to entertain the guests. A lot of these fountains still use the same hydraulics network, which was built by the Royal Family.

Fountains at Versailles are elaborate, well working for the 1600’s and very large in scale as seen below.


The Fountains of Versailles in the Time of Louis XIV: Buffet d'Eau (Chatelain):


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 RF Antiques carries French imported stone fountains in all shapes and sizes.  You can incorporate one of our fountains into your home landscape, to provide a water feature that creates a soothing atmosphere and brings much beauty just as King Louis XIV wanted for Versailles — but, on a less grand scale!

Fountains are significant at Versailles, but so are garden statues.  At RF Antiques we find that they can stand alone or live side by side very easily.

Statues can be used as pool surrounds, but they do not have to shoot water in order to bring interest and beauty to the area.  French imported statues such as the ones we offer at RF Antiques, are very often used in the garden and introduce French formality and interest.

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Below are closeup views of some of the statues we carry – very similar to the gold ones above & below found in fountains at Versailles.


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Below, one of the Four Seasons Fountains at Versailles

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RF Antiques, our antique garden and architectural shop  carries French sculptures depicting the Four Seasons, as well as, other statues, Greek Olive jars (all of which can be made into a water feature), French Olive jars and Anduze pots –fabulously received around a pool or in the garden area.

Greek Olive Jar and Anduze Pot

Anduze Pots in various sizes which are great for plantings – in particular orange and kumquat trees (shrubs).


French Olive jars & garden statue

The grounds of Versailles contain an orangerie, a large edifice for cultivating trees and protecting them during the winter. Image result for orangerie versaillesThe orangerie has large windows, a vaulted ceiling and covers nearly 7.5 acres. Orange trees from Portugal, Spain and Italy, lemon trees, oleander, palm and pomegranate trees, some more than 200 years old, are all housed in the Orangery during the winter and spread out across the gardens in summer.

The gardens at Versailles are lined with trees planted in boxes. The boxes were created for Louis the XIV’s orange tree collection by Andre Le Notre, the original designer of the Versailles Gardens.

 But, while the boxes are special to Versailles it is noted that many of the French use other type vessels for their trees as well:  such as, Anduze Pots and the French and Greek Olive Jars.

citrus tree in anduze pot:

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Any of these beautifully shaped vessels would enhance the garden area.  And, now that spring and summer are upon us it’s a good time to be thinking about updating and enhancing your garden and pool area.

 Gardens of Versailles

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While you see the wild flowers blooming as nature dictates you can also see the parallel alignment with the structure and order of the hedges, sculptured trees and flowers contained in urns.  Hence the importance of maintaining the formal order of the garden.

The gardens of Versailles Palace in France:

The bushes within the Versailles gardens are a perfect example of trying to “tame” nature and carefully adorned with statues that are used as water features.

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Beautifully sculpted garden urn filled with sculpted flowers adorns a pedestal in Versailles (seen below), and is quite similar to what we carry at our antique garden shop.

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Garden urns in the best of French design are found in our outdoor courtyard.

These planters would look wonderful atop a pedestal (which we also carry) filled with flowers, ferns and ivy left to drape down the side.

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Call us if you are interested in our fountains, garden statues, French or Greek Olive jars or Anduze pots. We can ship anywhere in the United States  251-928-8336

To see more of our selection and click on FOUNTAINS or GARDEN ANTIQUES

We have fountains in all different shapes, styles and sizes and a large selection of jars/vessels found under Garden Antiques.

A good readThe Sun King's Garden : Louis XIV, Andre Le Notre and the Creation of the Gardens of Versailles

The Sun King’s Garden : Louis XIV, Andre Le Notre and the Creation of the Gardens of Versailles

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!





Pictures are my own and others are from Pinterest photos  and from Emmanuel Lattes of national geographic



Un reino de otro mundo en las maravillosas fromageries de la capital francesa: Getting to know French cheeses: 1st – GENUINE Brie

France is famously known for having more cheeses than there are days in the year. Some are very widespread and available in every supermarket, some are regionally specific, and others are local to a village or community only.

From east to west, from north to south, France’s diverse cuisine has delighted more than one curious palate. One element of French cooking exists above all others as the crème de la crème of French gastronomy: cheese.  In France, at meal time, the cheese course is typically served after the main course and before dessert and is called the plateau de fromage.

These are the French cheeses you have to taste at least once in your life.

Continue reading “CHEESES OF FRANCE”

French Prayer Chair


Antique Prie Dieu with Needlepoint

A priedieu (French: literally, “pray [to] God”, plural priedieux) is a type of prayer desk primarily intended for private devotional use, but may also be found in churches. … The priedieu appears not to have received its present name until the early 17th century.  It is intended to be knelt on where one can place a book or their elbows for prayer.

Continue reading “French Prayer Chair”