Shepherds Walking Stick


Categories A Year On the Farm
Theme(s) Arts and crafts,
Collection Domestic and Personal Objects
Date 1844-1849
Object number 55/6
  • Description

The patience and skill that have been poured into this practical work of art is obvious. That it took years to make is confirmed on the stick itself, which proclaims: ‘Carved by a Poor Shepherd in the years 1844 to 1849’. Alongside this, the shepherd artist also names himself as Henry Beecham from Kidlington, Oxfordshire.
The stick is also a twin. A near-identical example was carved by his cousin, Thomas Beecham, while he stayed with his uncle for a period. Henry used his time well, learning various shepherd remedies and potions which he sold around the region. His successes allowed him to found the company Beecham’s Pills, which would go on to become the multinational SmithKlineBeecham, and is now GlaxoSmithKline. Thomas began his life as a poor shepherd much like Henry, but by his own sharp and entrepreneurial mind he literally went from rags to riches.