Leghorn Straw Hat

Straw plaiting was a huge industry in the late 1800s. It became the new and main employment of 1000s of women in Berkshire and Hertfordshire. It was the perfect way to supplement an agricultural wage because it could be done any time of day, was in huge demand and the straw was in great abundance [...]

Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds Sash

This sash belonged to the Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds; a Friendly Society founded in 1826 in Ashton-under-Lyme. Friendly Societies were created to provide help for local communities before there was any kind of public health care or financial support. Members paid a monthly fee that would go into a shared pot used when a [...]

Working by Candlelight

Rushlight holder for Discover
Could you imagine spending your evenings just by candlelight? In most homes across England the main source of light in the home was firelight and candlelight. The rich could afford candles made of beeswax, which smelled nice and lasted a long while. In poorer homes they used rush lights or tallow, which smelt terrible and [...]

Reins and Harnesses

To make leatherwork for horses a lot of skill and a good range of tools are required. This craft often happened in towns and villages, with a good saddler in high demand. As well as working on the farm, horses were the main form of transporting both people and good across the country, and leatherwork [...]

Suffrage and the Sewing Machine

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About Britain

Dust jacket of W. G. Hoskins, 'About Britain No. 8: East Midlands and the Peak' (Collins / Festival of Britain: London, 1951)

Geoffrey Grigson (ed.), About Britain Guides, 1951 These books are from a set of thirteen travel guides published in parallel with the Festival of Britain. They were edited by poet, author, and naturalist Geoffrey Grigson. Grigson also wrote two volumes himself: West Country and Wessex. As with the examples shown here and other aspects of […]

Strawcraft Symbols

Fred Mizen, Strawcraft heart made for the Festival of Britain (MERL 52/73)

Fred Mizen, ‘Corn Dolly’ sculptures, 1951 Straw craftsman Fred Mizen made various sculptures for the Festival of Britain, including a large and much-celebrated Lion and Unicorn for the pavilion of the same name. As well as his sizeable designs, he also contributed a smaller series for the ‘Country’ pavilion. These were were displayed upstairs, tucked […]

Festival of Punch

Cover of Punch, 'The Festival of Punch: 1851-1951', 30 April 1951, featuring comical take on Abram Games' Festival of Britain logo

Punch, ‘The Festival of Punch: 1851-1951’, 30 April 1951 Punch, or the London Charivari was a long-running satirical magazine, which poked fun at contemporary society and culture. The cover of this issue offered an amusing take on the famous Festival of Britain logo, with Britannia’s head replaced by the features of Punch. With its roots […]

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