Local artwork on display as part of James Ward project

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.

James Ward: The Greatest Animal Painter of his Time

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.

The Moment, 1831, James Ward (1769 – 1859). Tate, London 2019. Photo credit:(C) Tate, London 2019

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.

Portrait of James Ward, engraved by James Ward, c.1835, after John Jackson (1778 – 1831). Presented by Richard Godgrey 1994. Tate, London 2019. Photo credit: (c) Tate, London, 2019

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.

Local museums represented at National Service of Thanksgiving

Staff from Epping Forest District Museum, Waltham Abbey and Lowewood Museum, Hoddesdon attended The National Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey on 11 November 2018, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, having been invited by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

 

The Department for Digital, Media and Sport asked HLF to nominate people to attend the service, after recognising the huge contribution HLF and its First World War projects have made to the centenary. As a result over 300 people involved with these project across the UK, attended the service on Sunday.

 

Our HLF Projects

Our centenary projects were made possible by grants totalling £124,000 from HLF, which distributes the heritage share of National Lottery funding, supporting a wide variety of projects across the UK. HLF has invested £97million in 2,200 First World War centenary projects.

 

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The Walter Spradbery, Artist in War and Peace exhibition is on display at Epping Forest District Museum until Saturday 22 December 2018. It focuses on the artist’s time in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War, and the paintings he made for the first Imperial War Museum displays.

 

all diaries closed and medal and photo.jpgStephen Warner, One Man’s Journey through War was on display at Lowewood Museum from May until September 2018. It explored the First War World through the diaries of Warner, who served with the Royal Army Medical Corps and the Essex Regiment in France and went on to win a Military Cross for bravery.

 

Broxbourne: We Will Remember Them, focuses on First World War soldiers from the Borough of Broxbourne. People are invited to share their stories, memories, photographs and other artefacts. Pupils from local schools will create embroidered postcards to commemorate the sacrifices given by soldiers. There will be a number of sharing days in the Borough of Broxbourne, through December to February, for people to come and tell their stories. The Broxbourne: We Will Remember Them display will start touring from the end of February 2019.

Lowewood Museum project wins National Lottery support

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Cheshunt War Memorial

Lowewood Museum has received a National Lottery grant of £16,140 for Broxbourne: We Will Remember Them, a project to record, share and commemorate the lives of First World War soldiers from Broxbourne.

Volunteers will be recruited to research stories of those who fought, using the Borough’s war memorials, archives and personal collections.

Local sewing groups will come together to create commemorative embroidered postcards, and a number of community sharing days will take place at the Museum for people to share their own stories of ancestors and friends who fought in the First World War.

 

Through online information, digital records and a touring exhibition, the project will bring local people together to preserve the stories of those who served in the First World War, ensuring their legacy lives on.

Councillor Dee Hart, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture said: “We are overjoyed that support from National Lottery Players will make this meaningful project possible.

“During our special Year of Community the project will bring the community together to share their stories and help remember those of others involved in the First World War.

“This project will add great value to our ongoing work in commemoration of the First World War centenary, recording and sharing the stories of our war heroes.”

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said:

“The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. Thanks to National Lottery Players, Lowewood Museum will work with the community in Broxbourne to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and broaden our understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”

Broxbourne Council set up a Commemorative Panel to oversee a programme of events and initiatives between 2014 and 2018. These have included the For The Fallen community performance, screenings of War Horse and Private Peaceful, commemorative heritage plaques to recognise the contribution of Edith Cavell and Admiral Sir Hedworth Meux, the digitalisation of Stephen Warner’s war diaries, commemorative poppies at the Cheshunt Old Pond roundabout, a ‘War and Peace’ poetry competition and the granting of Freedom of Entry to the Royal Anglian Regiment.

The funding has been made possible by money raised from National Lottery players.

Share your stories and be part of a Museum exhibition

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.

Please contact Lowewood Museum 01992 445596 or email museum.leisure@broxbourne.gov.uk

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Life as a First World War Hospital Orderly

Life as a First World War Hospital Orderly

Inspired by the diaries of Stephen Warner

Helen Martin – Project volunteer

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.

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A hand-drawn and coloured sketch of a view of Étaples where there were several hospitals including that of St. John’s Ambulance Brigade and other training camps.

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Interior of the operation theatre in which Stephen worked showing the sterile floors and surface and the views outside of the windows. Both were things he talked about in his diary. (Source: Museum of the Order of St John, postcard book.)

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

            5.15pm Tea

            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)

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Étaples Convoy Yard, Ernest Proctor, 1918. The painting is of the Étaples convoy yard showing the area where ambulance vans would arrive with wounded soldiers. Orderlies to unload them as quickly as possible. (Source: Imperial War Museum, ART 3353)

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.

Diaries, Drawings and Dried Plants

Caring for a diverse collection

Rachel Arnold – Project Officer

 

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A snapshot of the variety of the Warner collection

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.

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One page of pressed plants in volume 2 of Stephen Warner’s diaries. Note the yellowing of the adjacent page.

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.

 

 

 

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An example of the negative corrosive affects that a poor environment can have on the surface of coins. This is the damage that could be done if Stephen’s war medals are mistreated.

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.

The solution

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.

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Upgraded storage of some of the photographs in the Warner collection. They are now inside their own plastic sleeve allowing easy visual access, increased structural stability and protection from fingerprints.

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:

The Victoria and Albert Museum

The British Library

The British Museum

Preservation Equipment Ltd.