As part of the project to celebrate 250 years since the
birth of James Ward RA, local artists have been creating artworks inspired by
Ward’s work, in particular the collection held here at Lowewood.
The first of these, Mannamead Art Group’s work, will be displayed until Saturday 7 December. This local group meets in Hoddesdon once a week and welcomes all from beginners to experienced artists. Thirteen artists from this group are displaying their works, mainly drawing inspiration from James Ward’s animal paintings. The paintings include horses and farm animals to one or two landscape drawings. A total of eighteen artworks in a variety of mediums, from watercolours to pencil drawings are being displayed.
Come and have a look at these local artists’ works, displayed alongside our exhibition on James Ward. The museum is open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 4pm and Saturdays 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.
This project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
This year marks the 250th anniversary of the
birth of local artist James Ward RA. To celebrate, the museum has opened an
exhibition highlighting his life and work, with loans from the Tate and
Fitzwilliam Museum. The exhibition opened on 21 September 2019 and is on
display until 25 January 2020.
Ward was born on 23 October 1769 in London, the son of a
greengrocer and cider merchant. He left school at a young age, before he could
read or write and at the age of nine was the only wage earner in his family,
washing bottles for 4 shillings a week.
Drawing came naturally to Ward, and by the age of 12 he was
an apprentice mezzotint engraver to one of the best, John Raphael Smith. He was
later appointed the painter and mezzotint engraver to the Prince of Wales. Ward
chose to pursue his painting career, aspiring to be appointed as a member of
the Royal Academy, which he finally achieved in 1811 at the age of 42.
Ward made Cheshunt his home for the last 31 years of his
life. He had loved the countryside ever since he was a boy, it was so different
from the hustle and bustle of London streets. In July 1855 he suffered a stroke that ended his
career and died at Roundcroft Cottage in Cheshunt on 16 November 1859.
On display in the museum is a selection of Ward’s works loaned by the Tate and Fitzwilliam Museum, as well as a sketchbook demonstrating the breadth of his work. These compliment the museum’s own collection of Ward’s work, on display in Lowewood’s James Ward Gallery.
The museum is open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 4pm and Saturday 10am-5pm. Admission is free.
This project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
St Catherine’s School, Hoddesdon celebrates being open for 200 years this October. Lowewood Museum is looking for past pupils to help remember what school life was like.
If you attended St Catherine’s School, or any of the schools which have joined to form St Catherine’s i.e. St Paul’s Infants School and Haslewood Junior School, please get in touch and share your memories.
Lowewood Museum will be celebrating the 200 year anniversary with an exhibition and are also looking for any objects that you would be able to loan to put on display.
This project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Stephen Warner, whose family lived in Hoddesdon during the First World War, worked as a hospital orderly at the St John’s Ambulance Brigade base clearing hospital in Étaples from 1915-1917. During this time he was stationed in the two operating theatres, and in the X-ray department. His diaries give us an insight into the work of the support staff at the hospital, and the hospital in general.
The life of a hospital orderly during the war was a hard, and regimented, one, and orderlies were expected to react to constantly changing circumstances. They were responsible for a range of tasks across the hospital including transporting patients around the hospital site, preparing patients for, and assisting with, surgery, and running unit baths. They worked alongside doctors, surgeons, nurses, and Voluntary Aid Detachments (V.A.Ds) and would have been exposed to sights that they could never have imagined. Orderlies worked closely with the patients in the wards too, and many of them received ‘souvenirs’ of pieces of shrapnel pulled from wounds.
In Volume 1 of his diaries, Stephen outlines a typical day of light duties –
“While work is comparatively light I may as well take the opportunity of putting down as full a diary as possible as I may have less time later on so will now give a short description of one’s day here as now arranged:
5:30am Reveille (or revally as it is usually called)
6.00am Parade for early fatigue duty – whatever it may be. There are various parties made up of various duties.
7.15am Breakfast, tidy up bed and kit.
8.30am Parade – for fatigue duty
12.15pm Dinner + leisure
2.00pm Parade for afternoon fatigue
6.00pm Parade for next days orders. Free after this to walk out
9.00pm Roll call in dormitories
9.30pm Last post
9.45pm Lights out” Vol 1, pg.
In addition to this daily routine, there are multiple instances in the diaries where Stephen describes being woken in the middle of the night to convoys of incoming wounded men. Lack of sleep and constant activity were normal. On Sunday the 2nd of July 1915 he wrote:
Sunday 2 July 1916 “Last night convoy of 79. Today another of 302!! So all of a sudden we are up to the eyes in it! 57,000 casualties so they say to date. The result was that having operated in the morning we started again at 8:30pm with eight cases, getting into bed at 3.00am!! Just as is was beginning to get light! Consequently I fell tired and sleepy today…” (Vol 2, pg. 85)
The work was hard, but there were also opportunities to socialise and relax away from the stress of the hospital. Stephen gives detailed descriptions of his days off dining in Étaples, bathing in the sea, and writing plays to be performed for the staff. He, and many of his colleagues, became avid collectors of flowers; pressing them in his diaries, and sending samples off the Kew to be identified. These activities helped to alleviate the stress and intensity of the daily work at the hospital, but the calm moments were few and far between.
The first time that I opened the box containing Stephen Warner’s First World War diaries I was amazed at the variety of material housed within.
This collection was compiled by Warner between 1914 and 1918, and added to by subsequent generations. It contains hand-written diaries with pressed flowers and plants, newspaper cuttings, photographs and medals. The contents are very well preserved, wrapped in layers of tissue paper inside an archival box but their storage could be vastly improved to stop conservation issues developing in the future.
Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery we now have money needed to achieve these improvements.
Why do we want to keep them?
The varied war collection once belonged to Stephen Warner, whose relatives lived in Hoddesdon, and it documents his unique war experience.
A first glance at the diaries and their physical properties already tells us several things about Stephen’s experience. For example: pencil was used more often than ink, implying that ink was more difficult to come by. Flowers were pressed within the pages; showing us that, despite the ongoing war, men in service continued with their hobbies and interests. Especially in these centenary years of the commemoration of the First World War it is important to ensure that this collection survives well into the future for generations to learn from and enjoy.
What are the problems?
Historical objects react in different ways with their environment and with other materials that they come in contact with. This often makes it difficult to choose the correct environmental conditions to preserve collections in storage.
The diaries, which also act as herbaria (pressed plant collection), consist of paper and organic materials and prefer a relatively high humidity level. This prevents drying out, shrinkage and cracking.
The plants in the diaries have caused yellowing of several neighbouring pages which is likely to have been caused by acid degradation on the paper from seepage of residual organic material from the flowers.
Medals benefit from low humidity levels to prevent damp and subsequent corrosion or chemical reactions. The metal of medals can also react to their environment and even the oxygen in air can cause the surface of the medal to change and corrode.
Photographs also prefer lower humidity levels and can react with their environment – resulting in spotting, loss of colour or fading (depending on the production quality of the photograph).
Already, you can see that we have conflicting environmental needs in this small collection of objects. Although it is normal practise at museums to separate materials in storage we would like to keep all of this material together at least for the duration of the project and the exhibition. This will avoid disassociation of any items and make them easily accessible.
Each diary’s pages will be interspersed with the finest grade Japanese paper (very thin and chemically stable) beside each pressed plant to prevent further acid degradation on neighbouring pages and subsequent yellowing. They will be placed in specially made conservation grade archival boxes that open to allow easy access to the diaries.
Photographs will be placed in specially made chemically inert plastic sleeves that prevent them from touching other objects and make sure they are still visible. This has the added benefit of making them structurally stronger with a robust casing.
Medals will be put in conservation grade plastic boxes which are airtight. This keeps their environment chemically stable from the other pollutants in the box that might come from the organic material. We can also put silica gel packets in the boxes which absorb moisture and help to reduce the humidity.
The above is a simplified description of the environmental and conservation problems encountered. For more information on the topic, please consult the following online resources:
This year sees an exciting project taking place at Lowewood Museum, showcasing the history of the Pulhams of Broxbourne, a company that really put the town on the map. James Pulham & Son set up a manufactory in Broxbourne in 1845 making terracotta and cast stone garden ornaments. From this base the firm expanded into landscape design, creating beautiful artificial landscapes containing rockeries, grottos and water features. The Pulhams are known to have produced work for at least 170 sites around the UK, from public parks and gardens to large private gardens, including Sandringham and Buckingham Palace.
The company was run by four generations of James Pulham. The first James (James 1) was originally apprenticed with his brother, Obadiah, in c.1810 to a master builder in Woodbridge, William Lockwood, where they learnt the skill of stone modelling. The brothers turned out to be highly skilled modellers, and when Lockwood established a London branch, James 1 became the London manager. Following Lockwood’s death, the firm began to trade under the Pulham name. On James 1’s death in 1838 his son James 2 inherited the firm aged just 18 and moved to Amwell Street in Hoddesdon. He was commissioned to produce his first rock garden for Woodlands, and the landscaping side of the business was born. James 2 saw a gap in the market and moved to larger premises on Station Road near Broxbourne station, where he could make an extensive range of ornaments and artificial rocks. He developed his own form of artificial rock known as ‘Pulhamite’ – a rubble core covered over with cement that was painted to look like real rock.
James 2 exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1851 and the International Exhibition of 1862. In 1865 his son James 3 joined the family business which became known as Pulham & Son. The company received two royal warrants, the first in 1895 for work at Sandringham for HRH The Prince of Wales, the second for work at Buckingham Palace in 1903. They also produced gardens for Chelsea Flower shows during the early 1900s.
The years after the First World War saw a gradual decline in work from large estates and a rise in commissions from local councils looking to ‘beautify’ their parks and seaside resorts. Finally, in 1939 the firm closed at the eve of the Second World War. Pulham house and most of the manufactory site were demolished in 1967 as new flats and a larger car park were built near the station. Today just one brick kiln and the puddling mill remains.
The Pulham project is celebrating this important history and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is a joint project between Broxbourne Borough Council’s Lowewood Museum and B3Living. Here at the Museum our Project Exhibitions Officer is developing a touring exhibition showcasing the company’s history, which will be on display from 14 January – 29 April 2017, as well as an events program and online Pulham resources. Keep an eye out on the blog and the website www.broxbourne.gov.uk/lowewood-museum for more information. Our first event is a free stone carving taster workshop on Saturday 20 August.
During 2016 the remaining manufactory buildings will be conserved, and with the help of volunteers B3 Living will also be rejuvenating the surrounding gardens.
“last night a convoy of 79. Today another convoy of 302!! So all of a sudden we are up to the eyes in it! 5700 casualties, so they say. The result was their having operated in the morning, we started again at 8.30pm with eight cases, getting into bed at 3.00am.”
Saturday 8 July
“a most painful thing has happened both yesterday and today namely that a patient died in the theatre apparently in each case from heart failure – once is unpleasant enough but the same occurrence the following day is too much.”
Tuesday 11 July 11
“bad news from England today about father – it irks so that one cannot get away home at once to him and at my application for short leave has been refused by the commandant point blank.”
Friday 14 July
“tonight I shall have been a year in the army! How much longer is this nightmare going on? News from the front is good on the whole and we are certainly pushing them back to a certain extent – but at a great cost.”