Tragic events in sixteenth century Nantwich were recently recalled when Russ Crockett and his wife Janet from Utah, USA visited the town. Russ had discovered that he was a direct descendent of Roger Crockett the licensee of the The Crown inn who was murdered in an affray in the town in 1572. Roger’s widow, Bridgett, experienced a second tragedy when, in 1583, The Crown was destroyed by fire along with much of the town centre. By then her son Robert was licensee of the inn.
When Russ and his wife arrived at the museum, local historian and museum volunteer Andrew Lamberton was able to furnish much background on the two events from displays and information held by the museum. Andrew also took Russ and Janet on a guided tour of the town. On arriving at Wood Street, where Roger had been murdered, the group stood for a while in the rain reflecting on the history of the place.
Roger was murdered as he sought to increase his property portfolio in the town, a strategy which brought him into conflict with the local establishment. No one was convicted of the crime whilst the local legal structure for dealing with such events left something to be desired.
In March 2014, the Museum secured a grant from Heritage Lottery Fund for £3,800. This was to research, develop and stage an exhibition and events which focused specifically on the impact of World War One on the historic market town of Nantwich.
A dedicated team of volunteers carried out visits to Dunham Massey and Imperial War Museum North to develop ideas for the museum’s exhibition which opened in July. Using information and objects from the Museum’s collection, members of the public were also invited to bring in photographs, objects and share stories to ensure that the exhibition remained true to its commitment to examine how the war affected those left at home.
We were very grateful to individuals, Chester Record Office and Malbank High School for supplying us with items. This included images and school log books which offered a fascinating insight into life at the time. For example, headmaster of Nantwich and Acton Grammar School Alfred Powell, left for war almost as soon as it was declared. He sent a letter to the Nantwich pupils indicating that the war would last for longer than expected. It is difficult to imagine teachers leaving to take up military posts. Building work at the school also ceased during the war years.
Members of the public also kindly loaned medals, embroidered silk cards sent during the war, National Registration Certificates and shared their stories with us.
The exhibition highlighted how from 100 years on we can see how Nantwich responded as war broke out in 1914.Local and national newspapers, reminiscences, photographs and artefacts incorporated into the exhibition identified the sudden realisation of impending war by an unprepared market town and followed the emergence of a community gearing up to support the war.
Talks and event were held throughout the project including: prominent local historian Mark Potts examining the costs to the families of Nantwich with a focus on 1914/15, Bill Pearson, lecturer at Reaseheath talking about food production at the time, Professor Karen Hunt from Keele University on women and food, David Morgan delving into the Belgian refugees who came to Nantwich and last but not least local teachers Mary Hennessey-Jones and Eira Cottrell providing a wonderful insight into art and war.
More details about the research carried out can be found in a pamphlet specially produced as part of the project and can be obtained from the Museum shop.
Keep scrolling down to have a look at more of the interesting things we got up to as part of this project.
The exhibition explored themes of recruitment, Belgian refugees, convalescent homes, army contracts and community efforts.
The grant also enabled us produce low- tech interactives including puzzles and a wardrobe of dressing up clothes.
Events included World War One and Bees (also to link in with the town’s annual Food and Drink Festival) and a special day where we were joined by members of Cheshire Pals 4th Battalion.
We hope that people will continue to find out about the impact that war had on the market town by reading our pamphlet. Display boards are also available to borrow.
Our exhibition brought in visitors from near and far. These are a couple of the comments that were left:
‘This was an extremely sobering experience bringing back memories of my grandfather talking of the war – the horses and tanks. It reminds me of why he was reticent to talk about it. Thank you this was a well thought through exhibition.’
‘What a lovely exhibition to commemorate our local warriors.’
‘Very interesting exhibition, makes me realise the impact the war had on communities.’
‘A very nice museum and WW1 exhibition. We particularly enjoyed the small local stories and clever little details such as the Council minutes and china souvenirs.’
‘Wonderful, educational and interesting. For a small town to have a very rich history it is amazing. Thank you!‘
We would like to thank everyone who was involved in this project and the Heritage Lottery Fund for their grant.
Three completely new workshops are being made available for schools this academic year.
Working in partnership with The Young Actors, we have created these inspiring, hands-on workshops that will allow children to access history through drama. All workshops use research and artefacts as their basis but are intended to encourage critical thinking and reflection.
The sessions are:
1. World War One
This session developed as we investigated the impact that war on the locality for an exhibition.
Opening with a focus on the Belgian refugees who came to Nantwich, we will be encouraging participants to think about what this experience would have been like and some of the emotions that refugees may have felt. This will be then juxtaposed as we turn to look at what life would have been like for locals in particular the reactions to recruitment. We move on to examine some of the consequences of war which provides the opportunity to delve into the role of convalescent homes, of which there were several in the local area. The session will conclude with us thinking about the aftermath of war and remembrance.
Various activities will be included throughout including writing poetry, staging a recruitment drive and adding to an installation.
This session is aimed at children in years 5 and 6. It allows pupils to consider factual information whilst drawing on emotional and moral issues.
Meet John Gerard, a Tudor herbalist who was born in the Nantwich area and find out more about Tudor attitudes to health. Using living history, children will be able to ask John Gerard about what it was like to live during this time. What fears did the Tudors have, was life the same for everyone? Explore the town, handle objects and then make your own medicine under the watchful eye of Mr. Gerard.
This workshop sees a departure from our traditional workshops as we enter the mystical world of Timothy Fivesteps and the Surreal Objects. Using completely unique objects inspired by the Museum’s collection, the purpose of this session is to fire up childrens’ imaginations, explore language, speech and writing skills, develop stories and use drama in order to help Timothy Fivesteps to deliver these very strange objects back to their owners.
We were pleased to welcome a group of children from local school, Wyche Primary as part of their Aspirations Day. The children who came had chosen to visit the Museum and gained an insight into what it is like to work in such an organisation. The children were able to open up the Museum for us, take environmental readings, design a quiz and work the shop’s till. The children also assessed an item from the Museum’s collection and completed an object entry form, including as much detail as they could about it.
From the Museum’s point of view it was great to see such enthusiasm and there was a real interest in the research side of things, indicating a real interest in local history.
Come along to this exciting open day on Saturday 16th August where you can influence what our new ‘Treasures of Nantwich’ display will look like.
Bring in your own treasures of Nantwich
Find out more about how these precious objects were found
See our treasures up close
This is a chance to have a go at identifying objects, meet the detectorist who found our latest acquisition, a Tudor dress hook, and help us decide what our new display should look like and how these important finds should be interpreted.
This open day forms part of a Treasures of Nantwich project which is being funded by the Art Fund as part of their Treasure Plus programme.
Nantwich Museum featured a part of its Celebration of Salt exhibition at the recent Salt Sunday event held at Winnington. The exhibition focussed on the literary celebrations of the local salt industry. In particular the Blessing the Brine hymn which formed a part of the celebrations of the gift of the brine which took place for a time on Ascension Day. A painting by Nicholas Ferenczy entitled Blessing the Brine was commissioned for the original exhibition and depicts the event. Copies in post card form can be obtained from the museum shop.
Salt Sunday was initiated in 2007 by the Bishop of Birkenhead as a celebration of the natural resource and a means of strengthening the links between salt-related industries and the community.
There is a display in Nantwich Museum’s main gallery about the Battle of Nantwich includes the letter from Sir Thomas Fairfax, the leader of more than 2,500 Parliamentarian soldiers, to General Monroe after the battle telling what he had done with some prisoners.
Parliamentarians in the English Civil War and endured a six-week siege by the Royalist forces.
After the siege was lifted, in January 1644, the local people marked the event in subsequent years by wearing sprigs of holly in their hats or on their clothing.
Holly Holy Day
Musketry demonstration led by members of the Sealed Knot
The annual commemoration on January 25 became known as Holly Holy Day. The practice faded out after a time, but was revived in 1972 following the introduction of a wreath-laying ceremony to mark those who died in the battle and the siege. It followed an initiative by the late Percy Corry, a local historian. Now, on the Saturday nearest to January 25th, wreaths are laid in memory of those who died and the battle is re-enacted by the Sealed Knot Society on Mill Island. The first re-enactment of the battle took place in 1973 on Barony Park but is now held on Mill Island in the centre of Nantwich.
The commemoration is organised by the town’s Holly Holy Day Society. The committee members include the Museum’s Community Development Manager, Kate Dobson.
Every year the Museum takes part in the town’s commemoration of the battle and was pleased to welcome members of the Sealed Knot and John Dixon from Black Wolf Wargaming to the Museum at this year’s event.