To mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Lowewood Museum is hosting an exhibition called Jubilations and Coronations. It draws upon both the museum’s collection and the contributions of the community to display royal celebrations from the past. The exhibition runs from Saturday 30 April to Saturday 2 July. There will be activities for all ages, especially during the jubilee weekend at the beginning of June. The exhibition is on the ground floor. Admission is free.
If you have images or memories of previous jubilee celebrations, please email them to the museum’s Community Engagement Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have a working typewriter that needs a home? The museum is hoping to find a couple of typewriters which we can use for this exhibition and in future, to be left out as part of the exhibitions and for visitors to use. Please contact the museum with details. It can be of any era it just needs to be in working condition and relatively robust.
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.
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.
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.
Stephen 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 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.
“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.
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:
On February 28, 100 years ago, Stephen Warner was decorated for his brave actions on the Front Line.
For the centenary of the First World War Lowewood Museum is celebrating the life of Stephen Warner. Stephen was one of many unsung heroes of the war. Before fighting on the front line he spent over a year with the Royal Army Medical Corps and attended surgical operations as a theatre orderly, saving the lives of hundreds of men. He was an inspirational leader and much loved Second Lieutenant of A company, 9th Battalion, Essex Regiment, based I Arras, France. He won the Military Cross for organising successful raids on enemy trenches, taking prisoners and capturing a machine gun. This February it will be one hundred years since he won this prestigious award.
Tuesday 5 February 1918 – “The raid is done! The raid is a huge success! Thanks be!… Congratulations have been showered upon me and the Brigadier has interviewed me…and expressed his satisfaction.”
The Military Cross (MC) is a British military decoration that, at the time, was only bettered by the Victoria Cross and the Conspicuous Service Cross. It was introduced during the First World War and awarded to officers for “gallantry in the field.” Thousands of them were given out during the First World War and it, along with the standard issue service medals, was essential in recognising the immense efforts of British soldiers and volunteers in the war.
Stephen Warner assisted with a raid in January 1918 and led some of his own in February 1918 while based in Arras. Looking at the surviving documentation Stephen was given orders relating to the time, date and location of the task but it was up to him, as a patrol leader to decide who to take and how to carry out the task. On the 5th February Stephen and his patrol of 3 men crawled across ‘No-Man’s-Land’ in the dead of night. The conditions were muddy and treacherous while the men had to cut defensive barbed wire but they succeeded and leapt into the German Trench. Remarkably they managed to take two German soldiers as prisoners, capture a machine gun and get back behind their own lines with no casualties – except for ‘a couple of scratches’. For this effort and other successes he was awarded the MC.
February 28 1918 “I have had a proud day. A letter has just come from the adjutant telling me that I have been awarded the military cross! I do not feel that I did anything very wonderful, but I suppose the standard to gain the award is lower than it used to be.”
It is testament to Stephen’s character that he is so modest when he receives the award, commenting that he thinks the ‘standard to gain the award is lower than it used to be’. He also talks in diary entries about how satisfying it is to finally do something he feels contributes to the war effort in an immediately gratifying way.
At Lowewood Museum we are delighted to have Stephen’s diaries, letters and other documents that record his unique experience. We are using these to create an exhibition which is due to open on 19 May 2018.
Getting to know one First World War soldier’s unique experience.
Within Lowewood Museum’s collection are a set of five diaries written during the First World War by Stephen Warner, a soldier whose family came from Hoddesdon. The diaries offer a first-hand perspective of war, in a field hospital and on the front line. There are stories, drawings, pressed flowers, photographs and much more in them, which bring Stephen’s experience to life. Many quotes and images from the diaries have been shared on this blog in the past.
At Lowewood Museum we are working on a research project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, based on the diaries.
In May 2018, as part of our First World War centenary celebrations, we will be launching an exhibition and series of events focusing on this unsung hero and his war diaries.
Look out for more in the coming months and in the meantime keep reading to find out why Stephen is such an important character.
Local Connections and Family Importance
Stephen Warner was the great grandson of John Warner, who owned Lowewood Museum when it was a domestic residence. The Warner family were well known locally and there are several institutions named after them, such as John Warner School and the John Warner Sports Centre.
John Warner also had a bell foundry and famously cast the first ‘Big Ben’, the bell in the Elizabeth Tower at Westminster (it was later recast at Whitechapel in London).
Stephen served the majority of his time in the First World War at the St John’s Ambulance Brigade Hospital in Étaples, France. He then went on to serve with the Essex Regiment on the front line. Stephen joined the 3rd Battalion and fought on the front line in France, going on to receive the Military Cross for his gallant and self-sacrificing work.
Thursday. 28 February 1918 “I have had a proud day. A letter has just come from the adjutant telling me that I have been awarded the military cross! I do not feel that I did anything very wonderful, but I suppose the standard to gain the award is lower than it used to be.”
He survived the war but was reported wounded in April 1918. After the war he graduated from Lincoln College, Oxford with an MA. He had a keen interest in history and architecture and later published books on various historic buildings in England including Lincoln College.
In 1928 he moved to Alton, Hampshire and became the honorary curator of the local museum. The museum still has a significant number of artefacts and books that were donated by Stephen and by his wife after he died in 1948.
His diaries offer us a personal interpretation of life in the war from a unique man. Stephen had a keen interest in the flora of his local area and pressed specimens in his diaries.
Throughout the war and especially when he had days off from the St John’s Ambulance Brigade Hospital, Stephen wandered through the countryside and villages, talking knowledgably about the landscape and flora. He also showed an interest in the local agricultural practises, comparing them to those in England.
Stephen was an intelligent man and took an interest in everything he came across. He describes in his diaries, detailed articles and notes about operations, infections, illnesses and treatments that were being carried out in the hospital. He had a close-up view of these things when he worked in the surgical theatre as an orderly.
Thursday 13 January 1916 “The chief feature is the church, which had a finely vaulted chancel and transept of late 1450. Nice carving on the pillar capitals including acanthus leaves and ivy with berries.”