Introduction from the auction catalogue, courtesy of Cottees Auctions Limited.
Thelma Shepley was only 5 foot 2 inches in her stockinged feet. She was born at home in West Derby, Liverpool and was made of resilient stuff despite being quite seriously ill as a child and one year, aged 7, hospitalized and at home for 12 months with pleurisy and double pneumonia. Throughout her life Thelma did not have the best of health but was a little fighter and it demonstrated itself in many ways: marrying, having a family to include 3 children by the age of 28 and supporting her husband in his international marketing career – even emigrating to Canada for 5 years in the 1960s. Thelma’s love of tiles started before leaving for Toronto and she would pick them up in antique shops in the Maidstone area. This idle interest turned into a passionate hobby when the family returned to the Surrey area in January 1971. Living south of Guildford and in this same area for the rest of their lives, Thelma and Stewart Shepley would spend many weekends indulging Thelma’s growing interest and deep love of all thing’s tiles. These were not only sought out and purchased from antique shops and markets in Dorking, Shalford, Guildford, Horsham and Haslemere but also in London and the East Midlands. Thelma was not averse to persuading workmen to let her take whole fireplaces from skips where they had discarded them at a time when properties were refurbed, and ‘original’ features extinguished in the desire in vogue for modernity. Thelma sought out what took her fancy. She collected Dutch Tiles but mainly Victorian and Edwardian. She became extremely knowledgeable and was a member of the Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society. Thelma delighted in grouping her tiles in ways that pleased the eye on the walls of the family home. She knew their worth but strove to please the viewer and the eye. Her 3 children and 4 grandchildren will delight in knowing what Mum and Nana took so much pleasure from, can be treasured and enjoyed by others in the future.
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