Ms Love dresses like a Victorian chamber maid. She speaks in a soft, girlish voice and says, ‘hhmm, yes’ alot. She is somewhere between 40 and 70 years old, it really is impossible to tell. She wears her hair up in Victorian kind of ‘onion’ bun and doesn’t wear a stitch of make up. And when she comes to open the gate for us she is very apologetic about the fact that the power is out.
Ms Love runs a museum from her house. Or rather, her house is a museum, a perfect replica of Victorian times. Right down to the whale boned corsets hanging in the closet and the calling cards at the door. Did I mention she lives in Auckland Park? The Auckland Park next to Melville, Joburg. Her front door not more than a kilometre from Campus Square. This absolute treasure of a time capsule, right there, a suburb or two away.
We arrive on Saturday morning to see her exhibition of wedding dresses from the last 150 years. Even though there is no power, she walks carrying a candle (it is an eerily fantastic sight, a Victorian chamber maid, carrying a candle through a darkened hallway lined by century old wallpaper) and the house it freeeezing cold (those Victorians weren’t as much about heat as they were about velvet curtains and well stocked libraries), the exhibition is an incredible collection of dresses and wedding paraphernalia. Made only better by Ms Love’s great knowledge of anything Victorian. “My mother’s honeymoon underwear was made out of parachute material. It was around the time of the war and they had no other fabrics so many wedding dresses and other garments were made of soldier’s parachutes”, she tells us.
The experience is absolutely spell binding, fascinating and creepy in a really wonderful kind of way. I cannot recommend her tours enough. The Wedding Dress Exhibition runs until 31 July 2011. Regular tours of the house are by appointment. Lindfield House Museum – 72 Richmond Avenue, Auckland Park (011) 726 2932.
Ooh, and afterwards she serves a full tea with jam and cream scones on her verandah in the sunshine. Ameezing.