Fairyopolis:  A Flower Fairies Journal ****

by Cicely Mary Barker

I’m joining Jain with my Edible Book Review at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.

 Fairyopolis is the secret fairy journal of Cicely Mary Barker, recorded during a magical summer of 1920 ~ a delightful book for the young at heart. . . complete with illustrations, bits of fairy relics hidden under postcards, photos & fold-outs~ along with a sample of fairy dust :)

This book inspired me to set a table and join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday as part of this Edible Review~ recreating a forest floor where fairies might be found.

Arriving at a friends’ summer home in Storrington, Sussex, England~ Cicely plans to paint and garden, surrounded by meadows filled wildflowers. On her arrival, she discovers this tranquil haven is surrounded by flower fairies. Cicely chronicles her discoveries, illustrating and compiling evidence of fairies in her journal. . . from tiny foot prints, to enchanting music; fairy wings~delicate and butterfly-like, to fairy dust. It is a summer that she opens herself up to a whole new world~ unseen but often imagined.

 Flower Fairies can be found in your garden, the meadow or forest tree tops & floors where they play and care for flowers and trees.

Only True Believers can see Flower Fairies:)

I set a table with my brown matelasse coverlet and sprinkled pinecones, acorns, moss & lichen, and various pods for a fairy-like forest floor. Leaf motif plates & napkins along with woven chargers add to the fall forest atmosphere~

 Suspend your disbelief and enter the Flower Fairies’ magical realm~ you can see Cicely’s beautifully illustrated fairies here.

While Flower Fairies follow a code and hold certain values in high esteem with one another, the more mischievous fairies are known to rain acorns, nuts & berries down on the heads of unsuspecting humans :)

 Tread gently there may be a fairy afoot ~

A sudden twittering of birds, when walking by a tree may be a warning signal to alert the fairies to your presence. Fairies do not like humans venturing too close to their homes and their feathered friends help by alerting them.

 Cicely remarks in her journal:  “Apparently fairies deplore being investigated by humans; they hate any kind of ‘prying’.”

Cicely Mary Barker was born in West Croydon, Surrey, a small town near London, England in 1895. As a child she suffered from epilepsy and as a result was physically frail and unable to attend school. Cicely’s father, an artist himself, encouraged her artistic talent, enrolling her at Croydon Art Society when she was thirteen years old and paying for a correspondence course, which she continued until 1919.

At the age of sixteen, she had her first work accepted for publication as a set of postcards, which prompted her to devote her career to painting.

Cicely was influenced by the popular interest in fairies which developed from the Victorian enthusiasm for fairy stories and the immense popularity of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in the early part of the 20th century. Published in 1923, her first book, Flower Fairies of the Spring, was well received by a post-industrial, war-weary public who were charmed by her vision of hope and innocence.

 She preferred to use real-life child models for her fairy paintings~ most models coming from the kindergarten her sister Dorothy ran in the back room of the home where they lived. She would have the child pose with the particular blossom, twig, or flower to accurately depict the texture and form of the plant, enlarging the flower to make it the same size at the child.

Always botanically accurate, Cicely’s flowers were painted from nature. If she could not find a flower close at hand, she enlisted the help of staff at Kew Gardens, who would often visit with specimens for her to paint.

“Many trees are significant to fairies. In particular Oak, Ash and Thorn.”

Bowls of Fairy Nectar~

Acorn cups brimming with morning dew :)


“Towards the end of my walk I came upon a mysterious-looking circle of long dark grass, dotted here and there with mushrooms. I believe it to be a fairy ring.”

Fairy Ring Marzipan Mushrooms, along with assorted leaf confections~

I ran across this beautiful box of confections at Home Goods, made in Italy just for the Flower Fairies~

“Fairies appreciate the following:  Sweet delicacies such as fruit, jam and cake. . .”

So combining fairy love for fruit & cake, I made an Applesauce Pear Cake with Caramel Sauce.

I found a Nordic Ware Harvest Basket Pan recently at Walmart~ on the Nordic Ware website it’s referred to as a Fancy Marianne Pan.

Applesauce Pear Cake

  • 1 fresh pear, peeled, chopped and mashed

  • 1/2 cup applesauce

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

  • 1 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 eggs

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 2 tsp. baking soda

  • 1 tsp. rum extract

Grease and flour pan; set aside. In large bowl, combine all cake ingredients; blend 2 minutes on medium speed, scraping bowl often. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 40- 45 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan; invert onto cooling rack.

Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1/2 dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 sugar

  • 1 tsp. rum extract

To make caramel sauce:  Combine all sauce ingredients in heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. cover and continue to boil for 1 minute. Uncover and boil for 3 to 4 more minutes without stirring. Cool slightly before drizzling over warm cake. Serve cake warm with seasonal fruit and whipped cream.

  Cicely Mary Barker’s unique blend of accuracy and fantasy establishes a popularity for the Flower Fairies books which endures to this day.

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday~

Jain at Food for Thought~

Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday~

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  45 comments for “Fairyopolis

  1. October 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Everything about this post is incredibly stunning. BRAVO! Love, A

  2. October 27, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Mary, this is absolutely beautiful from start to finish!

  3. October 27, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    i know at this point its just insulting to keep saying WE ARE TWINS, but i almost bot those dishes and wanted to see a table EXACTLY LIKE THIS!!! i love natural colors with the wonderful contrasts of purples, ambers and orgs, fabulous… and its a book tooooooooooo, YE~HAW I LOVE IT! ok i need to catch my breath, you know beautiful things make my heart race…

    “the more mischievous fairies are known to rain acorns, nuts & berries down on the heads of unsuspecting humans :-)”

    what an incredible vision you shared with us, honest, you still blow me away, 10 months of playing at food for thought and YOU STILL MAKE ME SHAKE MY HEAD IN ADMIRATION! you are endlessly talented~wait until monique sees this, she is the fairy queen…

    i dated a man from croydon, blush~

    i love your page embellishments, so pretty… the acorns, be still my heart i was playing with them in the garden yesterday, admiring their form …

    each shot gets better and better, you know i think this has to be your best one ever, but i say that every darn time, but i am truly taken in with you magic…

    i need to hit homegoods, those fairies are too cute for words!

    as if i wasn’t already smitten, CAKE TOO! prettiest ever… i need to hit walmart too, what a great pan! and the flavors sound incredible!

    oh mary, you made my afternoon, i came on to do a very minimal food for thought for saturday, seeing this has just made my day, you so get the joy wrapped up between books, food, art and photography, no wonder you were so busy this week, those fairies kept you busy sprinkling your magic fairy dust for us. LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! thanks as always for sharing and playing, you delight my senses so much!

  4. October 27, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Oops! Leaf plates are from Walmart, recently. Goblets from Hobby Lobby, a while ago. Twig chargers are from World Market, recently. Fairy Bird Feeder is ancient from my retail days :-)

  5. October 27, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Oh I have that beautiful book! My daughter gave it to me..You did it proud proud proud..

    Proud Mary:)

  6. October 27, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    The book sounds wonderful. I love your interpretation of the book. The table looks wonderful. I love all the tiny pumpkins. The cake looks wonderful. I would love dipping it in the caramel sauce.

  7. Happier Than A Pig in Mud
    October 27, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Wow, your setting is spectacular! You have truly created a fairy tale-Happy Halloween:@)

  8. October 27, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Your centerpiece is just beautiful and I love your tale of the fairy. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful table.

  9. October 27, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    I love your tables and this one I one of my favorites. I love the centerpiece and the floral plates are divine. thanks for sharing. Simply said, it’s stunning.

  10. October 27, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    What a beautiful fairy — and I love those salad plates — charming!

  11. Tess
    October 27, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Your table is just gorgeous!!!! Those dishes are beautiful and the gold glasses amazing. I had to look twice to see if the cake was real! Luscious!!!
    Happy Halloween!

  12. October 27, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Purple Chocolat Home has lots of resting spots for fairies. I need that marvelous book, and what about those treats for fairies, they are fantastic. Your table is just gorgeous. I just bought the purple salad plates and the cream ruffled plates too. Love how you used them. all of your naturals in the center feel like the fairie is the harvest fairy. Love everything, it speaks to the believer in me.

  13. October 27, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Mary, I think your table is absolutely gorgeous and wonderful in every way! Those flower fairies were very popular in my house when my daughter was little. I have some antique prints I purchased in England and we have all the books…and my daughter just suggested this week that I do a fairy table–but it would never have been this wonderful! It was quite clever to use the fairy feeder as your centerpiece and I really feel that those mischievous fairies could have showered down those acorns! Just beautiful!!!! Linda

  14. Carolyn
    October 27, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Oh my gosh Mary! When you go to bed tonight your home will be over run with Fairies, everyone attracted by that scrumptious Pear Cake. They will not be able to fly when they have devoured the treats from Home Goods.
    That book looks divine. Just love the drawings of the little girl with a butterfly for wings. I think I will have to get this one. I love a book with flaps,
    pockets and surprises around every page.
    The table setting is beautiful as well as bountiful. I was just looking at those chargers yesterday, love them too. Carolyn

  15. October 27, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Mary- I think you’ve really outdone yourself! What a gorgeous post this is! I love your fall tablesetting…truly spectacular! The recipe sounds delicious…of course, I would eat caramel sauce on old shoe leather! lol! Your blog is always a source of beauty and inspiration.

  16. October 27, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Absolutely magical as all things fairy should be. And, the fairies are going to love the cake, and I’m betting I will, too.

  17. October 28, 2010 at 12:02 am

    I could get lost in the amazing details of your beautiful tablescape. The Applesauce Pear Cake is one of the loveliest desserts that I’ve ever seen. Thank you so much for the recipe and for sharing your gorgeous design. Cherry Kay

  18. Mary Anne Komar
    October 28, 2010 at 2:09 am

    Such a sweet table set for the faerie folk themselves!!! So much day dreaming had to happen for this, were you sprinkled with pixie dust?
    simply delightful, thank you!

  19. October 28, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Absolutely stunning photography and displays! I’m visiting Tablescapes Thursdays for the first time, contemplating joining in and WOW – I’m blown away. I’m now following you and look forward to seeing future posts!

  20. October 28, 2010 at 8:26 am

    This is such an amazing table! The colors are so beautiful together and all the details you’ve included-wow!


  21. October 28, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Wow! Just, wow! What a magical post and a magical setting! I would love to stop in and just enjoy gazing at the gorgeous table you’ve set! Thanks, too, for the book review. My granddaughter will love this book! Thank you for visiting my table this week!

  22. October 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    This is so beautiful! Right down to the dessert! I absolutely love your dishes and the glasses with the design.

  23. October 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    What a wonderful post…your table is lovely and the cake looks divine!

  24. October 28, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Your table is beautiful! I will have to go and search out the book. It sounds wonderful. Thank you……

  25. October 28, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    This recipe sounds delish- I have everything but the cream. thanks for posting this :)

  26. October 28, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Beautiful post!! I’m anxious to read the book, as well as try the recipe for the cake. It’s gorgeous!

  27. October 28, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    I LOVE the way you have woven aspects of the book into this beautiful Fall tablescape. Your cake sounds scrumptious too.

    Thank you for this lovely post!

    Best wishes,

  28. October 28, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I think I love the last photo the best. The pear cake is amazing and what a beautiful post!

  29. Pondside
    October 28, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Just beautiful – every image and every word. I love the Flower Fairies – always have. It’s a world of enchantment – why would anyone think there aren’t fairies?

  30. October 28, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    This is one of the most wimsical, beautiful and yummy posts I have ever seen. Your table make me believe in faries! Only they could have inspired such a breathtaking and magical autumn table! I was totally captivated!!!! Your attention to detail and the mix of autumn elememts is just masterful!
    And your recipe came to my rescue. I am taking dinner to a friend who’s husband had a stay in the hospital and I’ll make your beautiful cake.! I have a flan pan that should work well.
    This has been the most delightful visit!

  31. Joni
    October 28, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    That was such a romp through your fairy forest. I think my girls had little — really small — flower fairy books — they were the cutest. Your table is beautiful — I love the salad plates and the generous fall fruits on the table. Your pear cake — with a caramel sauce is not only beautiful, but it sounds to die for. Very fun and whimsical. Joni

  32. October 29, 2010 at 1:18 am

    I’m breathless! First my eyes had a feast just admiring your beautiful table. I do have small fairies in my gardent (no, not real ones) and I never thought of using them on my table. Your arrangement with all the small pumpkins, cones and leaves is just magical. Then my eyes and taste buds were transported in a parallel world of caramel, cake and fruits. You are such a love for posting the recipe. I love the design of the cake pan. It makes the cake look very difficult to make! Thanks for sharing all these wonderful pictures. I was a nice escape. Now I’m getting ready to bake a cake because I have the exact cake pan…:)

  33. October 29, 2010 at 3:22 am

    wow, am i dreaming?! everything here looks so great, carefully crafted and well prepared…great job! :) the cakes looks so delicious…you’re amazing! happy halloween!

  34. October 29, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Unbelievable tablesetting but that cake, oh my. It looks fabulous. I have that pan and I think I need to try this recipe. Lovely presentation.

    Carolyn/A Southerners Notebook

  35. janet roseberger
    October 29, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Your table setting is beautiful! I love the idea of using a matelasse coverlet for the table. The applesauce pear cake looks delicious. Thank you for sharing.

  36. October 29, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Mary! You are an absolute delight. This table is amazing in every way. It has such a rich, opulent feel yet when you look at the individual pieces, it is made up of quite simple things. You have made me know I need to track this book down. And the food! Oh, my! You have created magic!

  37. Pat
    October 29, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Mary this was such a delightful post to look at and savor slowly. I read it three times and will go back to look at it again and again as I love the details you incorporate into each and every photo!
    I also own “Fairyopolis” because I’ve always liked Cicely Mary Barker’s drawings of flower fairies. Now I will have to search out that beautiful Maryianne pan ( no Walmart in NYC).
    It was such serendipity for you to find those lovely cookies with the Flower Fairy illustrations on the cover! I love Home Goods and all its constant surprises.
    Your really are so talented ..I think Victoria Magazine, or a similar publication, needs to seek you out to be their photo stylist!

    Have a good weekend,

  38. October 29, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Oh, I didn’t want this one to end! Every inch of this post is full of enchantment, Mary. The plates, the setting, those little candies, that wonderful journal, and ending it all with that oh so juicy cake full of delightful fruits and berries. Those mischievous fairies rained acorns down on the heads of unsuspecting guests dining on our terrace recently. Ouch!
    You’ve done it again. You are truly awesome! ~ Sarah

  39. October 29, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Wow, a feast for the eyes times 10!!! What a stunning tablescape – love the colors. And that cake… oh my! Amazing.

    Happy FF

  40. October 30, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I love fairies and you’ve created the perfect forest setting for them. I love your leaf plates and the stemmed goblets are beautiful.

  41. October 31, 2010 at 6:06 am

    I bought those same leaf plates!!! How pretty yours look, surrounded with all the natural elements. You’ve done a fabulous job of recreating the fairies forest floor.

    It was serendipity that you found that beautiful box of confections at just the right time but your homemade cake is incredible, Mary! What an interesting texture the pan gives to it & that caramel sauce….Oh, be still my ♥!!

  42. October 31, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    This is certainly a feast for the both the eyes and the imagination! What an unexpected pleasure to behold such a beautiful tablescape and all of the hidden and obvious treasures.

  43. August 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    OMGoodness, woman, you take my breath away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EACH and every table you do is more amazing than the last, how do you keep outdoing yourself???? (As you may have figured, I am going back through your blog trying to see every post). I shake my head in wonderment each time, but today, I feel magical! Fairies!!!! I never realized they are in people form and have magical powers! I love this!!!! Your creative talents know NO bounds!!!!! I am captivated by this amazing post, Mary! Thank you. XO, Pinky

  44. Marian Medine
    December 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I just love this post – am already thinking of trying to recreate this table for a fairy luncheon! Can you tell me where you found the fairy statue?
    Thanks so much,

  45. March 13, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Oh my, what a delectable blog, and full of delicious mystical things….a new fav! Blessings, Janice

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