Being Inspired

One of the many gifts that Elizabeth has bequeathed to us is the desire to make a collection of “little things” such as cousin Mary makes in The Scent of Water.

I have a collection myself, some inherited, some given as gifts, others found by browsing second hand and junk shops. They don’t live together, but have found their own niches in our home.

This little cat came from my husband’s childhood home, and is currently, like most cats , enjoying a patch of sunshine. A bronze boxing hare stands on the frame of an ink drawing of a Hare caught hiding in a Welsh cwm. An owl blinks down from a beam.

After my last post, Jana Jopson got in touch with a selection of photos and stories about her own collection, so that she could share them with other readers and collectors.

The following is taken from her email to the group:

“The collection is a work in progress, some arrive as gifts and some I find.  I imagine it will continue to evolve.  It lives in a glass-fronted bookcase on the shelf with all of my Elizabeth Goudge books and warms my heart whenever I see it.

The top shelf holds small rabbits, the smallest being made of brass and only 3/4 of an inch in length.  I appreciate rabbits of all sorts, in nature, story, and myth.

  • Second shelf includes a handmade clay squirrel (winsome and devious creatures!), a bluebird of happiness, and a sea turtle (another animal that has my admiration).
  • The bottom shelf has a figure of collie dog because I couldn’t find a Shetland Sheepdog (I’ve been companion to three), and a wild duck figure purchased for me by my father at an outdoor fair decades ago
My kindred spirit friend and I once saw a tiny coach-and-six with an elegant woman inside in a display cabinet at an antiques shop.  When we went back the next time, it was gone and we still say one of us should have purchased it.  I have had tiny tea sets but they have gone into shadow box creations rather than my tiny things collection, but I do watch for one made of blue glass.”
I wonder if we will be able to see some of her intriguing “shadow box creations” they sound wonderful.
I know very little about Elizabeth’s collection, beyond knowing that they still exist. Some pieces may have come from Guernsey where her Mother lived, like this exquisite silver writing desk, which currently belongs to the family of the late poet Anne Lewis-Smith who was Elizabeth’s neighbour in Dog Lane.
The value of any collection for me and I suspect for others who collect too, is the connections and tales the objects tell.
If you too collect and would like to share, we would love to know about your favourite “little things.”






  1. These are lovely and I confess to an addiction also. Just last week I bought a tiny Inuit polar bear (ivory) and also a jade pig. Will probably give them away in christmas stockings.

    • How lovely to read all this. I have “little things” in my glass vitrine here in Berlin and scattered throughout the flat: small animals, glasses, shells etc. They all have a meaning for me and most were given to me.

  2. A few small animals are scattered about my house…. birds and a rabbit made of resin and porcelain. And a shepardess of course. 🙂 I’ve yet to collect some glass things, but it’s a wonderful idea!

    So glad to see a new post here! I’ve started an “Elizabeth Goudge Book Club” account on Instagram (by that long name), if anyone is interested in joining in! Love to have you.

      • Hello Rose

        I recently discovered Elizabeth Goudge and also live in South Africa; am wondering if we are perhaps in the same area: Howick, KZN?


  3. Hallo Penelope,

    That’s great – unfortunately I live in Plettenberg Bay, not exactly commuting distance, but if you are ever in the Garden Route area it would be lovely to meet you.

    Elizabeth Goudge came into my life when I was seven (I’m now 78) through an aunt who always gave me wonderful books on my birthday and at Christmas. I guess E.G has been quite an influence in my life – I always return to her work when I am in need of comfort and upliftment.


  4. Elizabeth first showed me the Little Things in 1958 on one of my regular visits to Rose Cottage. She was obviously very attached to these small and in themselves unremarkable objects because of their deep association with her past life and her family. I recognised their significance when The Scent of Water was published in 1963. By that time I was married and my wife Sally was expecting our first child, and she too noticed the special status Elizabeth attached to these simple yet attractive mementos. Later, we too started our collection, and our Little Things now occupy an entire glass-fronted Edwardian display cabinet. In there is a small pomander masquerading as a pottery hedgehog, still perfumed 47 years after it arrived for our little son Richard who was gravely ill. It came, not directly from Elisabeth but at her behest, from her close friend Sister Mary Agnes of the Order of Poor Clares. It was accompanied by a blessing and a prayer for Richard. This was typical of the love Elisabeth had for her fortunate friends. The hedgehog occupies pride of place among our Little Things.

    Peter and Sally Aknai

    • How lovely to read the gift Elizabeth gave via her friend to Peter and his wife. I have only just read that comment, but it touched me.

  5. I was first inspired to collect ‘little things’ when visiting church jumble sales with my mother in the 1950s.
    When I read The Scent of Water and many other EG works in my 20s I realised what a wonderful writer she was.
    I still collect ‘little things’, my house is full of them and each tells a story. However they are now mostly from charity shops or antique markets. One of my favourites is a silver baby’s rattle with a bone teething ring.

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