What is a tray cloth?

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swintons mum

My mother kept everything…and I mean everything. This used to be a source of great embarrassment, but now I am grateful.

Each week, I will upload something from Mum’s drawer – bits and pieces from Warrnambool’s past.

This week is a receipt from George Swinton and Sons Furnishings, which still forms part of the Swinton’s complex in Timor St, Warrnambool.

I am not sure, however, if they still sell tray cloths.

Does anyone remember what a tray cloth was used for?


8 thoughts on “What is a tray cloth?”

  1. Perhaps they have gone the way of the antimacassar – the lacey thing our nans used to have over the back of armchairs to protect them from the Brylcreem or California Poppy hair oil (or whatever it was they used).

    1. So that’s what antimacassars were for! The Brylcreem – of course. Those Mad Men days had their drawbacks.

  2. What is a tray cloth? Here is an answer from one reader:

    A tray cloth was used to protect the surface of the wooden service tray usually when afternoon tea was served (made it look prettier too) or when taking meals to an invalid to keep the plates stable on a slippery surface. So old fashioned, but so quaint.

    Today we use Sorbent paper towels!!

      1. I think you will find that some people still do! And still cover their dining tables and furniture, can’t see the point really.

  3. I love Mum’s Drawer! It’s about time we started celebrating the hoarder. My own Mum was a dedicated collector (she felt the term hoarder was a bit common). Her detailed diaries, letters, and cards she saved give us precious insight into her world. And the wadrobes (yes, more than one) full of beautifully preserved clothes, all with their own stories – like the raw silk coat dress worn to a garden party at Buckingham Palace in the 60s – bring her memories to life. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in the drawer next week!

    1. What wonderful memories here Lucy! So glad that Mum’s Drawer has inspired you to share them. And I am all in favour of ‘hoarder’ being replaced with ‘dedicated collector’! Ha! It is much more sophisticated.

  4. I think I must have a similar collection, doilies, tablecloths, tray cloths, kitchen utensils, handkerchiefs, including a handkerchief bag, purses, buckles, cards and the list goes on. There is no way I could dispose of anything.

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