Sydney’s old houses and buildings conceal objects used in the belief that they would protect their occupants from harm. This is the result of extensive research by the heritage writer Ian Evans, well known for his many books and articles on restoring old houses. The objects which have been found concealed in many old buildings throughout Australia include: • Dried cats
• Old shoes
• Items of clothing, including hats, jackets, gloves and lace collars
• Domestic artefacts, often including childrens’ toys, ornaments and books
Ian Evans will be in in Sydney in March and would like to hear from people who have found interesting objects in their houses or other buildings. He can be reached on 0419 794 610 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The practice of concealing objects as protective talismans is well known in the UK where many hundreds of old shoes, dead cats and other objects have been found in buildings in recent years. The custom came to Australia during the 18th and 19th centuries but went unnoticed until Ian Evans began his research in 2004.
He believes that it was the last manifestation of ancient British folk magic beliefs, carried out in the hope that it would protect the occupants of houses from evil.
Ritual objects in old buildings are usually identified by the fact that they are in sealed voids and in locations where accidental loss or placement is most unlikely. They are commonly found during building renovations. The practice was highly secret. Although it was widespread in Australia it appears never to have been recorded in historical documents and was thus overlooked by historians.
Books by Ian Evans include Colour Schemes for Old Australian Houses, The Federation House – A Restoration Guide and Caring for Old Houses. Issued by The Flannel Flower Press
PO Box 591
Mullumbimby NSW 2482
Phone/fax 02 6684 7677
14th March 2009
Sydney Mechanics School of Arts
280 Pitt Street, Sydney (Go to Map)