Deeds Not Words!

This year marks the 100th anniversary for some women in Britain being allowed the right to vote. It was the start of a move towards general suffrage for women.
In marking this event, Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery was invited by prestigious arts organisation Artichoke to take part in their fantastic PROCESSIONS project. This will see 100 organisations from across the country parading 100 banners which celebrate the achievements of the Suffragettes. As part of this project the Museum has been hosting a series of printing and textile workshops involving women from across the borough, to design and produce their own Suffragette banner.
Textile and print artist Tracey Watson has been leading the workshops, demonstrating amazing print techniques to create our unique banner. As a finale, participants will be travelling with members of the Museum team to London on 10 June to parade the banner with other groups from across the country. Simelar events will also be taking place in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh on the same day.
We’re very pleased and proud to be taking part in such an important national event as well as representing the borough in the capital city.
For more information on the project visit http://www.processions.co.uk and watch out for further updates!

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A Collection of Favourite Recipes from Nuneaton

Recipe book published by Newdegate Press Ltd, Nuneaton


A slim, papery, brown book entitled ‘Collection of Favourite Recipes’ from our museum collections is packed with retro recipes with intriguing names and basic ingredients. The book was printed by Newdegate Press, Nuneaton and the majority of recipes contributed by Nuneaton people. Each recipe includes the name of its contributor and, in many cases, their address.

As a taster of our ‘Sweet or Savoury’ Hands on History session on Saturday 21 April, I’d like to share a few recipes that appear in the book.

Rather than scrambled eggs on toast, you might like to try ‘Tomato Scramble’ on toast.

If, like me, you enjoy citrus flavours, ‘Lemon Fluff’ may well appeal to your tastes.

Lemon Fluff recipe

My favourite recipe name in the collection is Funny Bread. Perhaps it’s the inclusion of treacle that makes the bread funny (or unusual) but I’d love to try it and see.

Funny Bread recipe

A dessert recipe deliciously named ‘Apple Amber’ sounds like an apple version of lemon meringue pie.

Apple Amber recipe

Join us in the White Gallery on Saturday 21 April between 11 am and 4 pm for our ‘Sweet or Savoury’ Hands on History session, when this book, and other cookery books and cookery related objects from our collections will be available to discover.

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A visit to Brampton Museum

On Monday 26 March members of the Museum team visited The Brampton Museum in Newcastle Under Lyme. In many respects this museum is similar to Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery as it has temporary exhibitions as well as more permanent exhibitions reflecting the history and diversity of the area. It is also set in the beautiful Brampton Park, which, as it was a lovely day we sat and had lunch!
Museum manager Teresa Mason made us most welcome and gave over some of her valuable time to discuss with our team some of the challenges and the opportunities that a small museum faces. We all felt that there was a good deal of common ground and we were able to exchange some really good ideas, thoughts and suggestions.
An exchange visit is planned for the Autumn so watch this space! Thank you Teresa and The Brampton Museum for an inspiring day!

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Cecil Knox VC

Today local hero Cecil Knox will have a plaque unveiled to him in Riversley Park.  Who was he and why is he being honoured?

Cecil was part of a large family the Knoxes, who owned the Haunchwood Brick and Tile Company.  He worked with them as an engineer.  When the First World War came he joined the Royal Engineers.  He was to go on to win the Victoria Cross.  The museum collections includes a copy of his citation explaining why he was awarded the medal.

Citation for Cecil Leonard Knox

His Majesty King George V presenting the Victoria Cross to Second Lieutenant C.L. Knox of the Chase, Nuneaton for his splendid bravery and devotion to duty on March 22nd 1918 in France.  Twelve bridges were entrusted to this office for demolition and all of them were successfully destroyed.  In the case of one steel girder bridge, the destruction of which he personally supervised, the time fuse failed to act.  Without hesitation Sc. Lieut. Knox ran to the bridge, under heavy rifle and machine gun fire, and when the enemy were actually on the bridge, he tore away the time fuse, to do which he had to get under the bridge.  This was an act of the highest devotion to duty, entailing the greatest risks, which, as a practical civil engineer, he fully realised.

Cecil Knox survived the First World War coming home to eventually take charge of the Haunchwood Brick and Tile Company.IMG_0832

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Safety First: Spiritual Protection

This month’s Hands on History session ‘Safety First’ considers objects from the museum collections that were created and used to keep people safe. Objects which have protected people from adversity including extreme weather conditions, poor sanitation, war and disease will be explored.

In this post, I’d like to look at two pieces we will share with our visitors on Saturday 17 March, both of which express human inclination to seek spiritual protection.

 

 

A Soldier – His Prayer postcard

 

The first of these is a postcard originally sent to a Mr R Rowley of 132 Bucks Hill, Nuneaton. The illustrated postcard has a poem on the front called, ‘A Soldier – His Prayer’. This poem emerged during the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War at the Battle of El Agheila in Libya.

 

Postcard addressed to Mr R Rowley, Nuneaton

 

During this battle,  Field Marshall Rommel of the German Afrika Corps advanced and forced the British Army into major retreat. The poem is reported to have fluttered into the hands of a soldier sheltering in a slit trench. It was written on a scrap of paper.

 

The opening lines of the poem reflect the soldier’s appeal for strength, companionship and protection from God:

‘Stay with me God. The night is dark, The night is cold; my little spark

Of courage dims. The night is long. Be with me God, and make me strong.’

The final lines of the poem similarly call to God for support and help in facing death:

‘Help me again when death is near,

To mock the haggard face of fear,

That when I fall, if fall I must,

My soul may triumph in the dust!’

This deeply emotive prayer-poem was first published in a collection entitled Poems from the Desert: Verses by Members of the Eighth Army in 1944.

The second object to contemplate embodies a wish for spiritual protection: a charm from our Islamic Treasures collection. The charm is a circular glass bead resembling an eye.

 

Evil eye charm

 

Charms of this type are referred to as evil eyes and their purpose is to protect their wearer or owner from the evil eye itself. The evil eye is a malevolent look, also referred to as a ‘death glance’, inflicted by one person onto another with the intention of causing them harm. The evil eye is especially attached to jealousy, wherein the purpose is to cause  injury or misfortune, to the envied person. Belief in the evil eye is widespread and appears in many cultures of the world. The evil eye is cited in Ancient Greek and Roman texts and is acknowledged throughout history.

 

Charm to avert the evil eye – to tie onto a lock of hair and dangle over a child’s forehead.

 

The evil eye charm from our collections is attached to a postcard on which it is written in ink:

‘Charm to avert the evil eye – to tie onto a lock of hair and dangle over a child’s forehead.’

This particular charm is therefore intended to provide spiritual protection for a child from the evil eye.

Drop in at Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery on Saturday 17 March, to discover more objects that have contributed to the protection of people, between 11 am and 4 pm.

 

 

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Collycroft & the Community Showcase!

Members of the Collycroft Residents Association have been busy in the Museum stores researching objects for our next Community Showcase. The group have had great fun exploring themes such as industry, education and geography in order to create their own exhibition within the  Showcase. The participants in this project have also found that by getting hands on with objects has also allowed them to share stories and memories which has led to some wonderfully entertaining workshops! It’s also been great for the Museum team to see how inspiring our collections can be and how enthusiastic people become when engaging with them.
You can see what our fantastic participants chose to exhibit when the next Community Showcase is revealed on Friday 23 March at 3pm.

If you would like to participate in our Community Showcase project, please contact Matt Johnson, Learning & Engagement Manager for more details.

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Reflections in a Secret Mirror

For February’s Hands on History session, ‘Looking Glass’, I have chosen several unique objects from our collections that incorporate mirrors in their designs.

A lovely one is this small enamel trinket box crafted in Bilston in Wolverhampton.

 

 

In the eighteenth century, throughout the West Midlands, decorative enamels were made in various locations. Bilston was the most prolific and well known place for enamel production, especially during the period from 1760 to 1790. Its thriving enamel industry was made up of many small, family run workshops.

 

 

The trinket box lid is decorated with a transfer of a travelling carpenter accompanied by his dog in a rural scene. The carpenter carries his tool basket hanging from an axe slung over his shoulder. He is smoking a pipe from which tiny plumes of smoke can be seen emerging.

This transfer would have been created from a metal transfer plate engraved by the artist. The attention to detail displayed by the transfer highlights what an intricate and delicate process engraving transfer plates was for the artists and craftsmen involved in the enamel trade.

 

 

Inside the trinket box, an oval mirror nestles within the lid. I particularly like this object because the mirror is hidden away like a secret mirror. What things might have been kept in this little container in the past? Perhaps, an item of jewellery or lock of a loved one’s hair.

 

 

In Georgian society decorative containers were very fashionable.  Snuff boxes, bonbonierres (for sweets) and especially, cosmetics cases were all popular. The inclusion of a mirror in our trinket box suggests that it’s use may have been cosmetic or vanity related. I wonder whose reflections the miniature oval mirror has contained over the years?

 

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