The Four Seasons

January’s Hands on History session reflects on the year ahead, taking as its theme the seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter. Each season will be represented by an amazing object from the collection!

Nineteenth century ice skates

Winter: nineteenth century ice skates

Symbolising winter is a pair of nineteenth century ice skates made of iron, which are unsurprisingly, very heavy. These ice skates would have been fitted to the boots or shoes of the wearer and have an adjustable mechanism to fit them correctly. This pair, made for an adult skater, are marked with an ‘L’ and ‘R’ for left and right and with the number 12 indicating their size.

Ice skating isn’t a new sport! At the bottom of a lake in Switzerland, a pair of ancient ice skates, thought to have been worn circa 3000 BC, were discovered. Made from the leg bones of large animals, these skates were tied to the feet of the wearer using leather straps laced through holes made in each end of the bone.

The word ‘skates’ originates from the Dutch word ‘schaats’. In Holland, skating dates back to the 1300s, where it was used as a means of transportation over the frozen canals. In the mid-seventeenth century, during his exile in Holland, King Charles II was captivated by ice skating. On his return, he helped introduce it to this country, where it soon became popular.

In England, the first artificial, mechanically refrigerated ice rink was built in 1876. It was situated near to the King’s Road in Chelsea, London and named The Glaciarium.

Please join us for a journey in objects through The Four Seasons on Saturday 21 January from 11 – 4pm in the Picture Gallery. Look forward to seeing you there!

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