Guess the Object

Each Monday throughout 2017, starting on 2nd January, we are posting a photo of an item in the collection on our Facebook and Twitter pages for you to guess the object. Each Saturday we will reveal what the object is and tell you a little bit more about it here on our website.

Follow us on social media to join in!

 

 

Week 42

Netting Tools

suitcase of netting needles

With these netting needles, cord or string and a lot of patience you have everything you need to make your own garden nets! The same principle of looping and knotting is used to make nets for all purposes, and is a technique that has been perfected over thousands of years.

Week 41

Lucas Bicycle Lamp

Lucas bicycle lamp

Marketed as part of the Lucas “King of the Road” cyclealities range of products, this is a 1920s carbide bicycle lamp.  A carbide lamp has a container with two compartments: one is filled with calcium carbide crystals, the other with water. When the water drips onto the calcium carbide it produces acetylene creating a bright white light. Joseph Lucas Ltd. of Birmingham, were famous for their cyclealities - or cycling accessories. Joseph Lucas started manufacturing hand-lamps and lanterns in 1870 and first produced his “King of the Road” lamps for bicycles in 1878.

Week 40

Grotto Fragment

grotto fragment & teahouse photo

This is a fragment from the grotto that used to stand on St. Ann's Hill, Chertsey. It is lump of cement with shells and quartz crystals embedded in it. The grotto formed the lower storey of a teahouse which was built in 1794 for the owner of the Hill, Charles James Fox.

Charles James Fox was Britain’s first Foreign Secretary and he and his wife, Elizabeth, lived on St. Ann’s Hill from 1781. They loved the Hill and developed the thirty acres of land with pathways, planting of exotic species of trees and shrubs, and adding small buildings such as a summer house and the teahouse and grotto. This became a favourite place for Charles and Elizabeth to take tea and entertain friends. The teahouse was a two-storey building which was open on the north, east and south sides. The interior of the ground floor, the grotto, was decorated with spar, tufa and shells which were brought down from the ceiling to imitate stalactites in a cave. The first floor, reached by a curved stairway on the west wall, opened up onto a small room with a fireplace and a balcony overlooking the newly landscaped gardens. The tearoom was still in reasonable condition in the 1930s, as shown in the photograph, but since then has unfortunately been reduced to a ruin by vandalism.

Grottos, which are natural or made-made caves, were very popular in Ancient Greece and Rome. With a resurgence in all things classical in the 18th century they became a very popular addition to fashionable gardens of the time.

Week 39

Rhyton

South Italian Greek Rhyton

This is a South Italian Greek rhyton or drinking horn dating to the 6th century BC. Rhyta were formed in the shape of animal heads, most commonly bulls, rams or deer, like this one.

These types of vessels were very common in Puglia, the region that forms the “heel” of the boot of Italy. The name rhyton, comes from the Greek rhysis meaning a stream. This is because early examples of these vessels have holes in the animal’s snout so that the wine flowed straight through. Later examples were designed as cups rather than spouts.

 

Week 38

Silk Fan

Circular fan, 1830

This 19th century silk and brass cockade fan folds out to full circle of green silk which is sewn onto brass sticks. It comes with a brass rod holder which can be attached to the rail of a theatre box or maybe a carriage, allowing the owner to easily pick up and put down the fan. The fan case has `May 2 1830' hand written on the inside of the lid.

Fans are as old as hot weather. The first must have been made from any suitable material that came to hand. As hunter-gatherers became food producers, fans were also used to separate wheat from chaff, and to keep fires burning effectively. At the same time, beautiful ceremonial fans, often made from ostrich plumes, were being produced in Ancient Egypt. The Romans also used fans for various purposes, and early Christians included them in the ritual of mass to keep flies from the Host. By the 14th century decorated fans were being used more generally. Beautiful jewelled feather fans appear frequently in 16th century portraits, and it was during this period that the folding fan, which originated in the Far East, started to appear in the West.

The advent of the folding fan in Western Europe coincided with the beginning of trade with the Orient. A new and sumptuous world of decorated goods was revealed to the West, and a fashion for all things Chinese took hold, reaching its peak in the 18th century. It was not long before high quality folding fans of exquisite design were being made here in the West. In the 17th and 18th centuries, strict rules governed their manufacture. Each section of the fan had to be produced by a different craftsman.

By the 18th century fans were carried as basic accessories by a large proportion of the female population. Fans could be amusing, topical, political, cheap or expensive, and this trend extended into the 19th and early 20th centuries. Different materials such as lace and silk were utilised, and exquisite, highly ornate fans co-existed with mass-produced printed ones. Fans were an excellent means of displaying wealth, elegance and taste. Equally, the shape and size of a fan lent itself to advertising, the dissemination of political slogans, and the commemoration of key events. Today fans are less commonly found in the West where they have lost their fashionable status. Widespread use is once again confined to the Far East, where they continue to fulfill their original purpose of keeping people cool. However, fans are frequently purchased by Western tourists hunting for attractive, lightweight souvenirs which epitomise the elegance of oriental design.

Week 37

Gin Trap

gin trap

This gin trap was used to catch small animals such as rabbit . It has been illegal to use such items since 1958 as they cause the animal untold suffering. The name is thought to come from ’engine’ a word often used to describe any mechanical item.

Gin traps have been around since the 16th century  and are simple, effective and dangerous. They consist of a pair of jaws with a spring and trigger mechanism. The jaws are opened and left in wait for the unsuspecting prey which would step on the plate, trigger the spring which would snap the jaws shut around its leg. Traps of this kind were also manufactured on a larger scale, large enough to trap a person. Man-traps were outlawed in 1827.

 

Week 36

Shop Till

This is a wooden Gledhill shop till from Ethel Taylor’s greengrocers, Chertsey. George H Gledhill originally ran a millinery business in Yorkshire. In 1886 he invented an automatic cash till and cash displayer to assist with his work. His invention was so successful that by 1892 he had moved premises and was solely making tills, expanding further so that eventually he was running three factories, two in Halifax and one in Huddersfield. In 1912 the firm bought  Frank Brooks time recording business to form Gledhill-Brook Time Recorders Ltd which was a great success. Factory workers up and down the land started their day ‘punching in’ at a Gledhill-Brook time recorder. As with many companies, during the Great War, they turned over production to help the war effort, developing a bomb-release mechanism for the Royal Flying Corp (later the RAF). Similarly during the Second World War they made military equipment including tanks and torpedoes. The company continued to trade until the mid 1970s.

Ethel Taylor’s grocers and florist shop at 8 London Street was run by the Taylor family from at least 1915 to its closure in 2010.

 

Week 35

Pair of Clogs

This is a pair of women’s clogs dating from c.1720-1740. They are made of leather with shaped sockets to keep the heels in place, and wool-lined leather straps that fasten across the front and would have been secured with a buckle. Clogs provided some protection for shoes when walking through muddy or dusty streets, preventing shoe heels from digging into the ground. Pattens were also worn at this time. They were similar in design to clogs, but gave greater protection as they had an iron ring or four-lobed hoop fixed to the sole, raising the wearer further above the dirt.

In the Olive Matthews Collection is a pair of silk brocade shoes (1735-1745) which are the same size as the clogs and similar in style and fabric, although not an exact match. Olive Matthews purchased the shoes from the Caledonian Road Market in London for half a crown. She was delighted when she found the clogs several weeks later at the same market.

 

Week 34

Powder Flask

This is a late 19th or early 20th century powder flask used by users of muzzle-loading guns to store gunpowder in whilst out shooting. They come in various shapes but this flattened pear shape, or poire-poudre (powder pear) is the most common. At the neck of the flask there is a measuring device to ensure an accurate amount of gunpowder is dispensed each time.

 

Week 33

Bourdaloue

This is an 18th century bourdaloue or boat shaped chamber pot. It was specifically designed to be used by ladies wearing the full skirts, petticoats and hoops that were fashionable at the time. Not to be mistaken for a gravy or sauce boat, the bourdaloue is shaped so that it is easily squeezed between the thighs, discretely hidden under all the clothing! Consider a typical 18th century lady with the wide skirts held out by layers upon layers of petticoat. It would have been very difficult to easily and discretely answer the call of nature. In an age before knickers or bloomers had been invented this was a handy thing to have around.

The origins of the name are unclear, presumably a “lost in translation” name from French. However, myth has it that it was named after the 17th French priest Louis Bourdaloue (1632-1704), renowned for his extremely long sermons which were so long that ladies would need to use a bourdaloue. A mistranslation from the French or a way of the English taking the …. mickey? You decide!

Week 32

Thatcher's Needle

This is a 19th century thatcher’s needle which was used to stitch cord, soaked in tar to give it extra strength and longevity, around the thatching material and onto the rafter or roof battens.

In Britain, thatching, or the use of straw or grasses for roofing, dates back to the Bronze Age when people lived in round houses    with wattle and daub walls. These wooden and mud built dwellings were unable to take the weight of a heavy roof, and thatch was by far the lightest material available at the time. It was also readily available and easily replaced. Whilst grand buildings of stone construction might use tiles, the majority of buildings would have been thatched right up until the 19th century. With improvements in transportation during the late 18th and early 19th centuries it was possible to move heavier building materials greater distances, and so Welsh slate became the fashion. This coincided with the use of combine harvesters which made the wheat straw unusable for thatch. The impracticalities of a straw roof in an urban setting combined with cheaper alternatives meant that thatching fell out of favour.

 

Week 31

Pathéscope Cine Projector

This 9.5mm Pathéscope "Ace" hand turned cine projector, launched in November 1935 it was designed to be a portable high quality way to show home cinema. It was the must-have Christmas present that year, with Pathéscope also selling a small projection screen for 4s 6d and a range of films including Mickey Mouse cartoons.

The projector originally sold for 37s 6d and was made in Britain, a proud boast given that previous Pathéscope had been designed and manufactured in France. It weighed 4.5lbs and could produce a good quality picture up to 24 inches (60cm) wide.

The original “Ace” was phased out during 1939 and when it was re-advertised in at the end of the 1940s it had been changed significantly.

 

Week 30

Vagrants' Plate

This is a vagrants' plate from the old Chertsey workhouse. In return for a roof over their heads and basic food the people consigned to the workhouse had a number of tasks to undertake. A vagrant would queue up each night to be admitted and would leave the following morning – once they had completed their tasks as payment for the overnight stay. A vagrant would be given a certain weight of rocks to break down into smaller pieces. When all the rocks were small enough to pass through this grille they would be allowed to leave.

In medieval times monasteries such as Chertsey Abbey were the main source of relief for the poor, sick or infirm in the area. With their dissolution in the 16th century there was no-one to help, and so the Act for the Relief of the Poor was passed in 1597 which introduced a compulsory tax. Each parish was responsible for taking care of its elderly and helpless population, and by the 18th century they were empowered to build workhouses. Between the passing of the Workhouse Act of 1723 and 1776 over 2,000 workhouses were built throughout England. The Chertsey Workhouse was built in 1726 on the site that is now Chertsey Station.

When the parishes from Walton-on-Thames to Windlesham, which included Chobham and Horsell) were joined under the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, the building of new, larger workhouses was encouraged. The old workhouse was sold off and a new one was built in Ottershaw in 1837 to replace the smaller parish workhouses. It was built in what was then known as Spinney Road, now Union Road, by Benjamin Butler of Chertsey to a design by Sampson Kempthorne, architect to the Poor Law Commissioners. It cost the princely sum of £4,277. The main block contained male and female ‘paupers’ quarters’ with a dining room behind, with wings for younger men and women and a separate infirmary. Later on more land along Spinney Road was bought, and a new infirmary, laundry, workshops, porter’s lodge, tramps’ ward and a school (behind the present Brook Hall) were erected. At the time of the 1871 census there were 177 male and 102 female ‘paupers’, including six with babies and 38 scholars. People who were considered to be “quiet ‘mental defectives’” were also admitted.

In 1920 the Poor Law Unions, with their Guardians, were abolished, and the Poor Law Institute was renamed Murray House and converted into a home for the ‘mentally handicapped’, with close links to Botleys Park.    

Week 29

Glove Stretchers

These 19th century glove stretchers were a must have in Victorian society. They were used to restore the shape of the fingers of gloves after they had been laundered. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries ladies were not properly dressed if they were not wearing gloves. Long, short, day, evening, gloves were an important dress accessory. Traditionally stretchers were made of rosewood, boxwood or ebony, although examples of ivory or bone stretchers can also be found. 

Week 28

Nutmeg Grater

This is an acorn shaped, 18th century nutmeg grater made of wood and ivory.

The spice nutmeg as many uses, both culinary and medicinal, and was highly prized for many centuries. The 1st century Roman writer Pliny details the use of nutmeg and other spices as incense, burned in the streets of Rome. The tree, Myristica fragrans, is native to the Banda Islands of Indonesia and yields two spices: nutmeg and mace. In the 6th century nutmeg were traded by Arab dealers who introduced it to Europe. Whoever controlled the Banda Islands controlled the nutmeg and mace trade. Limiting access to it increased its value, and so by the 14th century a pound of nutmeg was worth the same as three sheep. Of course, the spices were traded illegally by smugglers - as were the plants and so by the 18th century the trees could be found in British run Malaysia and French run Mauritius.

Nutmeg seeds are very hard and so are normally grated into cooking. It is the main spice used in pumpkin pie and is a vital ingredient in mulled wine!

Week 27

Tea Caddy

This is an early 19th century octagonal, black and gold lacquer tea caddy. Its two interior compartments are lined with beaten tin/lead alloy known as “tea pewter”.

Tea first came to Britain from China in the middle of the 17th century. Queen Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705), wife of Charles II and (for a brief time) Chertsey resident, is credited with the introduction of tea drinking to Britain. It was imported from abroad and as such was a valuable commodity, so much so that if you were lucky enough to be able to afford to buy it you kept it locked away in a tea caddy. The term caddy derives from “kati”, a Malay word for the unit of weight that tea was sold in. 

As demand for tea increased during the 18th and 19th centuries caddies became a fashionable, popular household item, but by the end of the 19th century tea could be bought pre-packaged and so there was no longer the need for fancy caddies.

 

Week 26

American Flag

This American flag was presented to Chertsey Town F.C. in 1982 by Reston Shamrock Soccer Team, Virginia, USA. It comes with a letter of thanks from Coach Kramer and a certificate of authentication. The letter reads:

This certifies that the American flag presented to you today was flown over the United States Capitol, in Washington D.C. on July 9, 1982. The Reston Shamrock Soccer Team requested that this flag be flown over the Capitol specifically for the Chertsey Football Club, and is presented to you as a symbol of our appreciation for all of your efforts on our behalf in making our European tour a complete success.

We are very grateful for all the kindness and hospitality you extended to us during our stay in Surrey, and for the many times you and your host families went out of your way to make our stay in England even more pleasant. The time you have spent planning for and participating in our trip is sincerely appreciated and perhaps in the near future we, the Reston Shamrocks, will have the opportunity to return the favour and host the Chertsey Football Club in America.

 

Week 25

Feeding Bottle

This is a blue Stafford torpedo-shaped ceramic feeding bottle, c.1855. Milk was poured into the large circular hole to fill the feeder, and a cork or rag was used to close it off.

Feeding bottles were commonly used during the 18th and 19th century. In an age where somewhere in the region of 5% of births resulted in maternal mortality, there were many children who needed to be bottle fed. However, the milk given to the child was often contaminated, and the shape of the feeders made cleaning difficult. Bacteria could build up in the traces of milk left behind causing sickness and even death to the baby. 

 

Week 24

Meerschaum Pipe

This is a 19th century Meerschaum pipe with a carved bone goat decoration and an amber mouthpiece.

The pipe is made of a soft white clay called sepiolite, more commonly known as Meerschaum from the German meaning foam of the sea. It is a very light substance and can float on water – hence the name. Meerschaum in its natural state is very soft and can be easily carved to make pipe bowls. It is then dried so that it hardens and is polished. It was first used to make pipes in the early 18th century and was much prized as it gave what many felt was a superior smoke!

Week 23

Pecking Hens

This is a wooden pecking hen toy, probably from Russia, dating to the early part of the 20th century. They were traditionally made by peasant farmers during the cold winter months, and then sold across Europe. The hens have jointed necks so that they can move easily. Their feet are attached to a paddle and the beak is attached to a piece of string. Each string threads through the paddle and is then attached to a large wooden ball. When the paddle is moved from side to side the strings are pulled making the hens peck up and down. The idea of a pecking bird toy is much older than this example, and can be traced back to Ancient Greece.

Week 22

Toy Till

This is a 1950s toy shop till made by Marks & Spencer. It is made of tin and has a very pleasing ring when the drawer opens!

Shop tills, or cash registers, were first invented by bar owner James Ritty in Dayton, Ohio. Ritty was worried that his employees were being dishonest and pocketing his profits. He, and his brother John, got the idea from a tool used to measure the number of times a steam ship propeller turned. Their first attempt was completed in 1879, and in 1883 they patented the Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier!

Tills had bells fitted to the drawer which would sound whenever it was opened. This alerted the shop owner that someone was accessing the money. At a time of rapid commercialisation more and more shops were opening, and extra staff was needed to work the shop floor and serve customers. It was therefore often necessary to employ people outside of the family circle, causing owners great concerns over honesty. It is said that this is one of the reason that goods were given odd prices. So, for example, if something was sold for 8¾d (8 pence & 3 farthings) then the customer would give the cashier 9d and would expect ¼d, or one farthing, in change. Therefore, the cashier would have to enter the sale through the till to open the drawer which would mean that dishonesty was not an option!

Week 21

Wooden Peg Doll

These are wooden peg dolls which belonged to May Weston when she was a little girl in the early part of the 20th century. They are roughly made toys with jointed limbs held in place by wooden pegs: hence the name. This style of doll dates back to the late-18th century when they were first made in Val Gardena, a valley high up in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy.

Not the most attractive of dolls, they were also known as Plain Janes, Wooden Bettys or Penny Gretchens. However, they were very popular with children of varying class and wealth. The Museum of London has a number of these types of dolls that were owned by Queen Victoria.

Week 20

Flat Iron

This is a Victorian flat iron which would have been heated on a range or stove and then used to eliminate creases in household linen and clothes.

 

For over a thousand years people have been heating metal to smooth fabric. In China and the East pans filled with hot coals were pressed over material, whereas in Europe stones and glass weights were used. Roman linen was flattened in a screw press, a practice that continued into the 20th century, and it wasn’t until the late Middle Ages that blacksmiths started to fashion iron to make, well, irons!

 

A flat iron such as this would not have stayed hot for long and so a laundry maid would have to have lots in use at any one time – the epitome of having many irons in the fire! Over time different types of irons were developed for different jobs. Frills and pleats would have been nigh on impossible to achieve with this type of iron, and so each task had an iron just right of the job.

 

This very physical way of ironing continued until the invention of the electric iron in the late 19th century.

Week 19

Butter Pats

This is a pair of 19th century wooden butter pats, but their design and use dates back much further than that. These types of paddles were used to scoop the butter out of the churn and slap and shape it into a block. These butter hands, as they were sometimes called, were used in grocery shops well into the 20th century when butter was cut to size in front of the customer, to their requirements, rather than being sold in pre packaged, standard sized blocks.

It is likely that humans have been making and consuming butter ever since cows and sheep were first domesticated, but without refrigeration, it was always a luxury item. During the early middle ages it was the preserve of royalty and nobles, and as such only appears as an ingredient in less than 3% of recipes. However, by the mid-15th century it featured in over half.

Week 18

Gas Mask

This is a Second World War army gas mask. Masks of this time often only had windows on the eyes due to the glass being brittle; however, after the invention of polycarbonate, gas masks were made with full face windows.

In 1939, at the start of the Second World War, every British civilian was given a gas mask. Babies had special gas masks which enveloped the whole infant, although these only given out if an emergency arose. Children’s gas masks were brightly coloured with big round eyes glass which made them look like an animal, earning them the nickname “Mickey Mouse”. This was a deliberate design feature in an attempt by the government to make the masks seem less scary.

It was very difficult to breathe when wearing a gas mask and the smell of rubber often made people feel sick. Therefore people were reluctant to wear them , and so propaganda was used to make sure people remembered to carry their mask with them. Hefty fines were issued to anyone caught without a gas mask.

Week 17

Cast Iron Finial

This is a cast iron decorative finial in the shape of a pineapple, made at the Herring’s foundry in Chertsey in the 19th century. Originally it would have adorned the top of some railings or maybe a building.

William Anthony Herring (1830-1903) was the third generation of the Herring family to run their successful ironmonger and foundry business in Chertsey.  His grandfather Anthony Herring founded the business by 1814 and his father, William, expanded the firm in its Gogmore Lane location.  The family lived at Burley Orchard, which still survives today.

William Anthony joined the family business as a partner in 1867.  The period that followed was the heyday of the Herring’s business, and by 1871 the firm employed a workforce of over 130 men. He acquired 117 Guildford Street as an additional showroom in 1886.  The property behind the shop comprised the foundry, a drawing office, pattern shop and machine room.

Under William Anthony Herring’s leadership the business thrived.  He was an able manager and displayed a genuine concern for his workforce, which he illustrated by reducing their working hours.  He was a prominent and philanthropic member of the Chertsey Society contributing to a number of public causes.  He gave to the All Saints Church building fund and provided St Peter’s Church with its heating and tower clock. 

After William Anthony Herring’s death in 1901, the foundry continued under the management of executors for a further 28 years.  From 1929 the business changed hands a number of times until it finally closed in 1982.

Week 16

"Lazy Tong" Douter

This Victorian steel, rivetted, extendable scissor-like contraption was used to snuff out candles!

Week 15

Pewter Cruet

This 14th century pewter cruet is sadly missing its original lid, although the hinge fitting is still intact, and as a result we may never know what was stored inside it. It was discovered in the Abbey River in the 1970s which gives us clue to its use.

In medieval Britain these small pewter jugs or cruets were most commonly ecclesiastical items. They held the sacrament for the celebration of the Mass. On the lid would have been the letter A, for aqua or water, or the letter V for vinum, or wine.

It was in the 14th century that Chertsey Abbey was at its height, under the auspices of Abbot John de Rutherwyk (1307-1346). It was during his time in charge that the abbey was developed and new lands added. Rutherwyk was responsible for the digging of the moats around the vegetable gardens, which are still visible today, as well as the fishponds. He had drains dug, improved the water supply to the Abbey, built roads, bridges, windmills and wells.

Maybe this cruet, along with its missing pair, was used by John de Rutherwyk, the Abbey’s “second founder”? 

Week 14

Knife Cleaner

This is a knife cleaner dating to the early part of the 20th century. Before the invention of stainless steel, or rustless steel as it was originally called, just before the First World War, keeping your cutlery clean was a tiresome activity. Acidic food caused steel knives and forks to become dull and rust, and polishing them was a laborious business.  In 1844 George Kent was awarded a patent for his rotary knife cleaning machine, and by the end of the century he had sold over 100,000. The knives are placed into the slots in the edge of the drum, the handle turned and the rows of bristles and leather strips inside would brush and polish the blades.  

The Kent’s Knife-Cleaner was available in many different sizes able to clean three knives at a time up to nine, but they were not cheap. The largest cleaner went on sale in 1844 for £3 18s which is the equivalent of £2,000 today.

Week 13

Fireman's Helmet

This brass Chertsey Fire Brigade helmet has a detachable brass badge, and was given to the museum with a pair of brass epaulettes.

In the mid 19th century firefighters wore leather helmets for protection against ash and falling debris, but in the late 1860s they were replaced with metal ones.

The brass Merryweather-style helmet was based on the headwear of French Sapeurs-pompiers and was first introduced into Britain in 1868. It remained in use until 1936-1938 when it was replaced by helmets made of compressed cork and rubber. These were much more practical than the heavy brass helmets, and much safer. As more and more homes had electricity it wasn't wise to wear conductive, metal helmets.

Week 12

Spats

These are a pair of spats or short gaiters made of buff coloured wool. They were donated to the museum by Mr Johnston who ran a gentleman’s outfitters at 5 High Street, Addlestone, from 1910 until he retired in the mid-1960s.

Spatterdashes, or spats for short, were primarily worn by men in the late 19th century to protect their shoes and socks from mud and rain. As time progressed into the early part of the 20th century they became a fashion item associated with the wealthy and well-to-do, as immortalised in Irving Berlin’s classic, Puttin’ on the Ritz

Have you seen the well-to-do
Up on Lenox Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare
With their noses in the air
High hats and arrowed collars 
White spats and fifteen dollars
Spending every dime
For a wonderful time

If you're blue and you don't know where to go to
Why don't you go where harlem sits
Puttin' on the Ritz

Spats fell out of favour in the mid 1930s but their demise had started almost a decade before when, in 1926, King George V appeared at the opening of the Chelsea Flower Show without them. Rumour has it that as soon as spectators registered the omission they too discarded their spats, which could be found littering shrubbery across the Show! There was also a practical reason for their loss of popularity; with cleaner streets there was no longer a need for them.

Week 11

Roman Strainer sherd

This pottery sherd dates to the 1st century AD and is from a carinated (rounded base with inward sloping sides) bowl rim with a spout and strainer. It was recovered from the Thames near Magna Carta Island in the late 1990s during dredging work.

Bowls such as this were in use in Britain before the Roman occupation, but they tended to be in bronzework, whereas the earliest ceramic examples date from c.30AD. These bowls were initially used to strain local drinks such as beers.

Archaeological evidence from the Roman fort at Vindolanda, on Hadrian’s Wall, shows that the soldiers stationed there drank a lot of ale! Military accounts written on wooden tablets have been unearthed there, and at other forts along the defence, which give details of the ceruese (beer) the soldiers bought from local brewers.

Week 10

Fire Mark

This is a copper fire mark of the Norwich Union Fire Insurance Society which was established in 1797.

In 1666 the Great Fire of London resulted in disastrous losses to buildings and possessions, and at the time there were no insurance companies.  By the end of that century the Fire Office (which became the Phoenix Fire Officer), the Friendly Society and the Amicable Contributors for Insuring Loss by Fire (latterly the Hand in Hand) had established themselves in business. During the 18th century and onwards to the present day, many more insurance companies were formed to mitigate against all sorts of losses.

At a time, in the 18th century, when house building was often unplanned and rather haphazard, buildings often had no street number. Therefore, it was necessary for insurance companies to distinguish which of the many houses they had a policy against. Hence the need for a fire mark bearing the company’s emblem and the policy number. Initially these marks were made of lead but were soon replaced by cheaper copper marks. If the policy lapsed, the mark was removed.

These marks were also important when it came to putting out any fires at the property. The catastrophic events of 1666 also resulted in improvements to the way fires were tackled and an improvement in the availability of firefighting equipment. The Fire Office realised that if they had their own, organised, fire brigade then maybe they could put out the fire and limit the amount of damage done. These small fire brigades continued until the mid-19th century when ten insurance companies came together to form the London Fire Engine Establishment, and even up until the early part of the 20th century some still existed in the provinces.

Week 9

Bellarmine Jug

This is an early 17th century Dutch stoneware jug often referred to as a Bellarmine because of the depiction of a bearded man on the neck of the jug.

The bearded man is said to be Cardinal Roberto Francesco Romolo Bellarmino (1542-1621). Ballarmino joined the Catholic Church at the age of eighteen and was promoted to Cardinal when he brought charges against Galileo in 1615 for his support of Heliocentrism - the theory that the earth and planets revolve around the sun. 

This jug dates to a time before Bellarmino was a Cardinal, but the term is widely used to describe all bearded man jugs. This is thought to be because of the Cardinal's strong stance against alcohol, and so the jugs were named in his honour to mock him. The first recorded use of the term to describe one of these stoneware jugs comes from c.1635.

Week 8

Ice Skates

These brown leather ice skates with steel blades, belonged to Olive Matthews, former owner of our costume collection. They were purchased from Fortnum & Mason Ltd, Piccadilly in the early years of the 20th century.

The skates were manufactured by The Salchow Mfg Co. Stockholm and the steel skate is inscribed Salchow and Meyer. Urich Salchow and Bror Meyer were both champion Swedish figure skaters in the 1900s, Meyer is most remembered for his 1921 manual Skating with Bror Meyers, and Salchow is most remembered for the jump he invented in 1909. The Salchow jump is described as 

a takeoff from a back inside edge of one foot. The rotation in the air is made in the direction of the curve of the take-off edge. The landing is made on the back outside edge of the foot opposite the one used for take-off. One or more rotations may be made in the air.

 

Week 7

Woolly Mammoth Tooth

Woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) roamed Europe, parts of Asia and parts of North America 400,000 years ago but became extinct c.12,000 years ago. They were the size of today's African elephants but were very woolly indeed!

These enormous creatues could be up tp 9ft (2.75m) tall with up to 16ft.(5m) long tusks which helped them to dig up vegetation in the frozen tundra of the last ice age. They had four molars which they replaced up to six time throughout their lifetime, so these teeth are not that uncommon to find. 

Week 6

Tobacco Jar

This lead tobacco jar with a fox on the lid belonged to Mrs Miles who lived in Eastworth Road, Chertsey, at the turn of the 20th century. Lead jars were first introduced in the 1750s and remained popular until the 1900s. They nearly always had an animal or a person on the lid.

Week 5

The Pedlar Doll

This is one of the most popular objects in the collection and was much played with by Olive herself when she was a young girl.

Pedlar dolls (also know as Dutch dolls, a misnomer as they were made in Austria but sold from Germany; hence Deutsch corruption to Dutch) were a popular child’s toy in the 18th and early 19th centuries and were accompanied by the wares they would sell, such as matches, books, candles etc. Olive’s doll is very traditional in its construction and dress, it is the wares which she sells which mark her out as exceptional. These include candlesticks, shovels, timepieces and candle snuffers and are all made of solid silver. They probably date from the late Stuart to early Georgian period with one piece, the two-handled dish, thought to date from the 1660s. Clearly these items are not original to the doll, but are thought to be from a doll's house.

The doll and her wares had already had an interesting history before it came to be owned by Olive. It had been owned by the Sassoon family, the wealthy family of bankers related through marriage to the Rothschild and was bought by Olive’s mother from the Sassoon collection (it is not known how and when the doll was bought). It was to be a treasured possession of Olive’s both as a toy when she was a child and as a rare object when she was an adult.

The elevation of what was when new a rather a pedestrian doll into an extraordinary example of its kind through its associated precious objects may have amused Olive as she grew out of childhood and may have even been an inspiration to Olive in her acquisition of rare and beautiful objects.

Week 4

Unmarked figurine of Charles James Fox, c.1850

Charles James Fox  (1749-1806)

Charles James Fox was born in 1749, the third and favourite son of Henry Fox, later Lord Holland.  From an early age Fox became infatuated with gambling, losing small fortunes at cards, such debts were always settled by his father.

With his father’s assistance he entered parliament at 19, before the legal age, as MP for the pocket Borough of Midhurst in Sussex.  Later, as MP for Westminster, Fox established a reputation as an eloquent political orator, speaking in support of civil liberty.  He was appointed Foreign Minister under King George III.

In 1778 Fox purchased a thirty-acre property on St. Ann’s Hill with commanding views of the surrounding countryside.  The house was ‘a plain irregular building, of no architectural importance … The gardens and pleasure grounds are laid out with great taste’ with ‘a small Temple’ and ‘a very neat grotto’.  Fox spent much time in this rural retreat away from the intrigues of political life in London.  Fox’s house was demolished in 1937, though two of Fox’s garden buildings still survive.

In 1782, a young German schoolmaster, Carl Philipp Moritz, during a visit to England, described Fox, ‘This same celebrated Charles Fox is a short, fat, and gross man with a swarthy complexion and dark; and in general he is badly dressed.’

He later aided his friend the Prince Regent, in his attempt to gain power during the illness of George III.  On returning to parliament in 1806, after a break of almost a decade, he strongly opposed the slave trade, but became ill and died of dropsy in the same year.  He had wished to be buried at Chertsey, but his friends considered his memory would be more honoured at Westminster Abbey.

Week 3

Day Dress by Redfern, c.1911

This stunning day gown is made from figured velvet and silk satin. It was made by the high status couture house of Redfern Ltd whose premises were located at 26 Conduit Street, London. The business was founded  around 1850. It eventually closed in 1940. Redfern was famous for quality tailoring, particularly women’s sportswear such as riding habits. It also produced beautiful day wear such as this piece. From around 1908 it led the way in producing women’s clothing in the columnar ‘Grecian’ style. This garment is an excellent example of this new silhouette.

 The dress is extremely complex in construction with a multitude of press-studs and hooks and eyes holding it in place, making it impossible to put on without assistance. It incorporates a hobble skirt with a slight train, a common style for day dress during this period. The fashion for the extremely impractical hobble skirt is attributed to the esteemed fashion designer Paul Poiret, who once famously stated that he had “shackled” women’s legs with his designs. Women had to take very small steps when walking and some even wore garters around their knees to prevent them from taking too large a stride.

 

 

Week 2

Holloway's Ointment Pot

1896 recipe for ointment

  • Fresh butter (unsalted with no added water) av.oz.12
  • Yellow wax av.oz.4
  • Resin av.oz.3
  • Vinegar of canthandes fl.oz.1
  • Balsam of fir av.oz.1
  • Expressed oil of mace gr.30
  • Peru balsam drops 12

Thomas Holloway, the eldest son of Thomas and Mary Holloway, was born in Devonport, England in 1800. In his 1816 his parents moved to Penzance where his father took up the occupation of keeping a Public House named The Turks Head. It is believed that during his time in Penzance Holloway undertook a brief apprenticeship in Harvey’s Chemist between 1816 and 1820, perhaps being the inspiration for his later work. 

In 1828 he left home and embarked on a mercantile career in the North of France. In 1836 he returned from France and made the decision to set up business and home in England’s capital city, London. It is during his early time in London that he became acquainted with a leech vendor from Turin, Felix Albinolo. Albinolo met Holloway whilst advertising his ‘St Cosmas and St Damian’ ointment which, backed by numerous testimonials from medical personnel, claimed to cure a variety of different ailments and diseases. Holloway, currently working as a merchant, offered to go into partnership with Albinolo helping to sell and advertise his ointment, but unable to provide the capital that was needed for the venture Holloway’s offer was declined.

In 1837 Holloway posted his first advert in the Sunday Times for ‘Holloway’s Universal Family Ointment’. Over the next year Holloway and Albinolo battled in the advertising columns of many well known newspapers and journals before Holloway was imprisoned in Whitecross Debtors Prison for going bankrupt. After his mother bailed him out of Whitecross in 1839, Holloway  immediately embarked  on the making of his digestive pills and subsequently moved to larger and more adequate business premises at 244 The Strand, London.

In January 1840 Holloway married Jane Pearce (1814-1875), the eldest daughter of John Driver a Rotherhithe shipwright. It is unknown how Holloway and Jane Pearce met but it is possible that Holloway became associated with her father whilst visiting the docks at Rotherhithe when trying to sell his ointment and pills to sailors onboard the ships. The couple remained married until Jane’s death in 1875 and according to several accounts led a happy marriage and life whereby Jane was heavily involved in the business; whether by chance or choice the couple went on to have no children of their own.

The success of Holloway’s pills and ointment in subsequent years lay in his extraordinary ability to publicise his patent medicines worldwide. He spent a vast amount of his fortune on advertising through a variety of different means including billboards, tote cards, stamps and posters. He wrote to thousands of people throughout the empire and enlisted agents in other countries to pursue his advertising for him.

In 1860 Holloway decided to take a step back from the business life in London and he and his wife, together with some other members of his family, moved to Tittenhurst Park in Sunninghill, Berkshire. Even though he had taken a back seat in the business he still spent hours each day studying daily returns and stock and share papers; his business continued to be a large part of his everyday life. By now Holloway had become a self-made millionaire and with no children to leave any inheritance to he decided to invest a large sum of his money in two philanthropic ventures.

With the advice of the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury he first planned to build a Sanatorium for 240 middle class mentally ill patients costing around £300,000. The Sanatorium in Virginia Waters, Surrey was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1885. Sadly, Jane Holloway died of heart trouble and bronchitis in 1875, and it was in memory to his wife that Holloway invested in his second philanthropic venture, the building of a college to educate 250 middle class women. Holloway was closely involved with the construction of the college, built a short distance from the Sanatorium in Egham. However, despite being closely involved with the building of the college Holloway passed away before its opening by Queen Victoria in 1886. Holloway died of congestion of the lungs at his home Tittenhurst Park in December 1883. His body was later buried in St Michael’s, Sunninghill in 1884 where it still rests today. The self- made millionaire left behind him a great fortune and a sizeable estate, amounting to over £600,000.

 

Week 1

Chertsey Abbey Tile

Chertsey is most famous today for its outstanding medieval tiles, made on site to re-floor the Abbey church in the later 13th century. These tiles were found in July 1996 at the corner of Colonels Lane next to the Abbey Field, just across the road from this museum. 

Other tiles had previously been re-discovered and at the time it was thought that they had been made in France as the idea of laying a floor of plain or decorated tiles was a continental one, which only caught on in England after about 1220.  However, in 1922 the kiln in which the Abbey tiles were then fired was discovered, along with some discarded tiles, proving that the tiles were made on site.

The tiles are made with red and white clay, differences in colour is caused by the amount of oxygen in the kiln during firing.   A shortage of oxygen results in the dark greens and browns, in contrast to the brighter reds and oranges. 

The first stage in the manufacture of the tiles would be to cut the raised design in to a wooden stamp (metal was probably used for more complex designs). Then the stamp is

pressed into the soft clay which is then left to dry. Wet, white clay is then applied to fill the hollow design, and left to dry to a ‘leather hard’ state. Then the extra white clay is scraped off to reveal the design. Then the tile is trimmed to shape and fired. Normally a lead glaze would be applied before firing to protect the design, it also gave a yellow tinge.

Chertsey Abbey tiles are known as ‘the most famous tiles in England’ and are considered to be the finest medieval decorative tiles of their time produced in this country.  The individual tile designs were used as part of tile mosaics as early as 1250 AD.  The tiles consisted of large pictorial roundals with the surrounding design being made up of numerous smaller pieces. Popular designs included zodiac signs, the farming months of the year and legends, as well as decorative patterns. 

The eleven complete medieval tiles in our collection were purchased from Genet Holdings Ltd in September 1999 after a successful fund raising campaign by local people.