“A Celebration of William Shakespeare,” an exhibition by local artist John Harrison has opened in the Millennium Gallery at Nantwich Museum and runs until Saturday 3 June. The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016 inspired several exhibitions in New York by John Harrison. This exhibition has been derived from these, together with additional material reflecting other periods of the artist’s life.
A life long love of Shakespeare inspired John Harrison to bring together all aspects of his artistry including paintings, box sculptures echoing passages of text and visual imagery. Several paintings are based upon John’s favourite play “The Tempest” and an exploration of “prosperos books”.
John Harrison is an English artist who has travelled widely and now lives in Nantwich. His paintings have been exhibited in South America, Europe and the USA. He has worked as an illustrator of books in watercolour and mixed media and as a photographer for organisations including Skillshare Africa. Working for UNICEF he established a centre of excellence in the visual arts in Mozambique.
Admission to the museum is free and the artwork is available for purchase
Forlorn Fragments, an art exhibition by Marguerite Turner, focusses on heritage remains in the UK and abroad and runs in the Your Space Gallery at Nantwich Museum until Saturday 6th May 2017. For Marguerite the attraction of historic ruins is their wonderful stonework, intriguing angles and the way light falls, as well as their associations with the past. The castles, churches and prehistoric stones were all erected with a deep belief in their endurance, and their current ruined forms are a testimony to mans confidence in the order of things; their present state a reminder of hubris.
Marguerite has had a life long interest in ruins. As a child she was taken by her father to visit ruined castles which engendered in her a great love of historic sites. Having been trained in art, with Michael Craig-Martin one of her tutors, she has continued to sketch and paint whenever time allowed.
Admission to the museum and exhibition is free, and the artwork is available to buy.
Holly Holy Day, which celebrates the lifting of the 1643/44 siege through the Battle of Nantwich on 25 January 1644, was commemorated in the town on 28 January. It was a busy day for the museum, and we welcomed over 600 visitors. They were able to take advantage of tours of the town, learn about muskets from members of the Sealed Knot and enjoy music from the time provided by local group Forlorne Hope.
As well as learning about the Civil War from the permanent display a temporary exhibition explained the events leading to the battle whilst the recently constructed large scale model of the battlefield was also on display together with a matchlock musket loaned by the Grosvenor Museum in Chester. The display was arranged by the museum’s Civil War Centre which is now offering later in the year an evening class led by Chairman, Dr Keith Lawrence and will be ideal for those wishing to learn more about the seventeenth century conflict.
The volunteer team did sterling work welcoming visitors and helping with their queries. Particular mention should be made of Barbara and Janet (pictured) who dressed for the occasion and braved the elements standing outside to invite visitors to join us.
The Road to the Battle of Nantwich exhibition, which examines the English Civil War and its commemoration, is at the museum until 25th February 2017.
Visitors to Nantwich Museum have a rare opportunity to view a 360 year old journal of events in and around the town during the English Civil War.
The author was Thomas Malbon, a lawyer and sometime Registrar and Churchwarden, who lived in Welsh Row. The 49-page journal records events between the years 1642-1648 in handwriting identical to that found in the Parish Register, Registrar’s records and other official papers of the time. It is signed: “Thomas Malbon oweth (i.e. owneth) this book” and provides a careful consecutive narrative of the war as seen by someone living in a Parliamentary garrison town.
Through time the journal was preserved amongst the Cowper manuscript collection in the library of Reginald Cholmondeley of Condover Hall. It was recently located by the museum’s Research Group in the Cheshire Record Office which kindly loaned it for display during the ‘Nantwich Besieged’ exhibition.
The acclaimed exhibition tells the story of life in and around the town during the time of the war and has been hailed for its scholarship which seems to have accurately captured the times. Other notable features of the exhibition include a mural depicting the scene in the town as the siege at the end of 1643 became inevitable, a narrative featuring four fictitious characters commenting on their experiences at the time and a model illustrating the Battle of Nantwich which relieved the siege on 25 January 1644.
There is something for everyone with a variety of activities available during the exhibition including colouring, handwriting and dressing up for children whilst a series of talks consider various aspects of the time including coin hoards, the life of Sir William Brereton and stained glass.
Admission is free and the exhibition ends on Saturday 17th September 2016.
Salt Sunday is a celebration of the natural resource of salt in Cheshire and how it strengthens links between communities and salt-related industries. This year activities were combined with the Family Day at Reaseheath College to show how salt and agriculture are related.
In the Salt Sunday tent there were presentations from Lion Salt Works, Nantwich Museum, Cogent Skills, Link up, Ineos, Mission in the Economy ICF and more.
Up until the early eighteenth century on Ascension Day the inhabitants of Nantwich would decorate the Old Biot brine spring. Dressed in their gala clothes they would spend the day dancing, feasting and making merry around the spring. The celebrations included singing the hymn of thanksgiving ‘Blessing the Brine.’
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.
THE Museum has a number of rings on display, including the Worleston Ring. An ancient gold “snake” ring, it was unearthed at Worleston, near Nantwich, by a metal detectorist. It was declared Treasure Trove and later acquired by Nantwich Museum thanks to a bequest and additional donation.
The spiral ring, thought to be unique in Britain, dates from the late Roman or early medieval period. The ring was bought using a bequest from one of the museum’s former volunteer workers, Betty Goodwin, which was substantially increased by her family to cover the full asking price. An expert at the British museum said there appeared to be no close British parallel to the ring although it is similar to a Roman ring found at Hadrian’s Wall. While spiral gold rings are not uncommon in Scandinavia, and are dated from around AD 200 – 600, they are generally plain. The Worleston Ring is decorated with triangular punch marks and the British Museum says it can’t therefore be described as typically Scandinavian.
What is not in question is that had Nantwich Museum not managed to buy the ring the British Museum would have attempted to do so, such is the interest in it.
The former curator of Nantwich Museum, Susan Pritchard, said at the time of its acquisition: “We are thrilled to have been able to acquire this fine piece of ancient jewellery. It’s a very delicate ring which could only have been worn by someone with very slender fingers and it’s fascinating to wonder who that person might have been.”
The ring was discovered by treasure hunter David Beckett who lives near Crewe.
The Goodwin family were guests at a reception to mark the opening of the Nantwich Treasures exhibition – where the ring was a central attraction – in February 2005.