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Founded in 1884 by Louth Naturalists',
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Ruth's Blog 2019

Welcome to Ruth's 2019 Blog, where I'll tell you about what we have in Louth Museum. You can also read and discover more from last year's blog.

27th June 2019

'Gate at Thorpe Hall'

Gate at Thorpe HallThis small painting is currently on display in Louth Museum in the Special Exhibition of Local Paintings. It is a 19th Century view of a gate at Thorpe Hall, the large house set in 20 acres of grounds on the western side of Louth. The house was built in the 16th Century for John Bolle who together with Sir Walter Raleigh went on an English expedition to Spain, and afterwards Captain John Bolle was knighted for his valiant services at the Siege of Cadiz.

At the time when this picture was painted, the Fytche family lived in Thorpe Hall. First was John Disney Fytche who was the son of Stephen Fytche, Rector of Louth and uncle of Alfred Lord Tennyson. J D Fytche’s son, John Lewis Fytche then lived in the Hall from 1855 to 1885 when he went bankrupt. Later the grounds were laid out by Gertrude Jekyll.

The artist of our painting is unknown, but the reverse of the frame bears the stamp of William Fieldhouse, “Gilder and framemaker, artist colourman and fancy stationer”, whose business was in Mercer Row.

If you haven’t already done so, do come and see this little painting and many more in the exhibition which runs until the end of August. There are lots of unusual quirky ones – don’t miss the opportunity!

1st June 2019

'Passive Resistance Campaign'

Passive Resistance CampaignThe Education Act of 1902 was a controversial Act of Parliament that reorganised the administration of education at local level. It overturned Gladstone’s 1870 Education Act that had enabled nonconformists to obtain control over local schools, and it placed all elementary schools in the hands of newly-created Local Education Authorities or LEAs; in Louth the LEA was the Lindsey Education Authority. For the first time Anglican Church schools were to receive public funds.

Throughout Britain, nonconformists joined a ‘passive resistance’ campaign as they resented the idea of contributing to the upkeep of Anglican schools. In September 1903 a group of Methodists and Baptists gathered in Louth to hold an auction of their belongings, in order to pay their contribution to the education tax. Those pictured here include draper James Lill, chemist J W Dennis, draper and stationer William Lacey, draper William Faulds and clothier William Pridmore. In fact, this was a symbolic auction – the goods of the protestors were sold, and then handed back to the original owners. Contemporary newspaper reports tell us that the auction was held in the exercise yard behind Louth Police Station (now the Sessions House) and attracted a large collection of sympathisers.

7th May 2019

'Girl Guides at Rimac'

Girl Guides at RimacIn about 1924 the 1st Louth Girl Guides went to Rimac, where they put up a tent and created see-saws with planks over barrels. Those were the early days of the Girl Guides, an organisation which had been started only in 1909. The lady standing towards the left of the picture was Guide leader Mrs Ellen Smith, wife of Louth shoe dealer Joseph Smith; it is thanks to her future daughter-in-law Mrs Rowena Smith that we have this photo in Louth Museum.

The name Rimac (pronounced rye-mak) isn’t a typical Lincolnshire name, but was given to this coastal area after the sailing ship ‘Rimac’ bound for Hull docks, ran aground here in stormy weather in December 1874. The Rimac was one of many ships transporting guano (bird droppings) from South America to the UK, where it was used as a nitrogenous fertilizer. The ship Rimac had been built in Whitehaven in 1834 and was named after the River Rimac which runs through Lima in Peru.

2nd April 2019

'Coney Sign'

Coney SignWhen you go along Broadbank take a moment to glance at the southern wall of the museum beyond the porch, to see the sign “R Coney, Hatter and Hosier”.

This newly-restored sign, almost 4 metres in length and very heavy, was fixed on the wall by Rodden & Cooper. It originally came from Coney’s shop in Eastgate, and had been created by a process known as the “Brilliant Process” which originated in Victorian times to replace the earlier and more expensive carving and gilding process. The Brilliant Signs factory, based in Uxbridge, became very successful, and continued unto the 1970s. Each letter was cut from a thin metal sheet and pressed onto the inner side of the glass to give the illusion of carved letters behind the glass.

Donated to Louth Museum by Brocklebank Reclaims, our Coney sign had previously been on display outside the museum, but rather hidden on the lower wall, and then it went for a face-lift at Eskdale Restoration in Lincoln.

Where was the shop and who was R Coney? It was in Eastgate near the Fish Shambles; today the premises are occupied by Card Factory. The shop was set up by Alford draper Richard Coney (1844-1932), and subsequently run by his son John Richard Coney (1874-1952). In the museum we have some photos of the exterior and interior of Coney’s shop, an invoice, and a few bits of equipment such as rulers and shears. Those were the days when garments were crafted exactly to your measurements rather than being made for the mass-market.

1st March 2019

'Sampler made at Kidgate School'

Sampler made at Kidgate SchoolThis early Victorian sampler was created in 1847 by a 12-year-old pupil in the British School, now Kidgate Primary Academy. We know this because Eliza Gelsthorp embroidered her name and other details. Worked in the traditional style with the alphabet in four different scripts, and the numerals, the sampler is bright and cheerful.

The British School had opened in 1840, only a few years before Eliza worked her sampler. Initially there were 310 pupils, but only two classrooms – one for the 150 girls and the other for the boys. In the decade after Eliza was at school numbers had risen to 450 pupils, and the buildings were extended. Conditions must have been extremely cramped. Sewing was an important part of the curriculum for girls. We have a number of Victorian samplers in Louth Museum, but this one stands out because it is so vibrant in colour indicating that it has been carefully stored out of direct sunlight. We may tend to think of the early Victorian period as being monochrome, but this sampler clearly shows that bright colours were around.

Eliza was the daughter of John and Frances Gelsthorp who lived in Walkergate, now Queen Street; John was a farmer and leather manufacturer. Eliza did not marry, but later in life she kept house for her brother Thomas Gelsthorp who continued the family business. Thomas was three times mayor of Louth, chairman of the British School Managers, President of Louth Mechanics Institute, and a prominent member of the Ants & Nats. Eliza died in 1907.

6th February 2019

'Brown Cow'

Brown CowThis photo, kindly donated to Louth Museum by the late Mrs Rowena Smith, shows Louth’s Brown Cow pub many years ago. Today the Brown Cow at the junction of Newmarket and Church Street is a thriving popular pub. The first mention of the Brown Cow I have seen was in 1834 – in the early days it was described as a “Beer House”, which meant that it had a lower social standing than the larger, more up-market inns. In the 1970s its name changed to the Newmarket Inn, but reverted to the Brown Cow in 2007.

In the photo the name visible above the door of the pub is Arthur Wright, and this greatly helps in dating the photo. Arthur Wright was the landlord of the Brown Cow before the First World War. Born in Fotherby in 1878, as a young man Arthur worked with his father who was the Ostler and looked after horses at the King’s Head Inn (which was an up-market establishment).

Arthur was listed as landlord of the Brown Cow in 1909. He married his wife Alice in 1908, and it is likely that this was the time that they took on the Brown Cow Beer House. But by 1913 the landlord was John Trevor; Arthur Wright served in the Army Veterinary Corps during the First World War – his experience looking after horses at the King’s Head must have been invaluable. After the war Arthur and Alice moved to Leicester.

So my guess is that the photo was taken some time between 1908 and 1912, and that the woman standing by the gate is Mrs Alice Wright.

16th January 2019

'Mrs Speed's new costume from Maltby's'

Mrs Speed's new costume from Maltby'sDo you sometimes wonder what people were doing a hundred years ago? In 1919, Mrs Speed treated herself to a new outfit from the draper in Louth. We know this because she kept the receipt, and it is now in Louth Museum.

Mrs Florence Speed was a 41-year-old farmer's wife who lived in Carlton. The price of her costume was £5 14s 0d, a considerable sum in those days - in today's money it would be about £300. She made the purchase in the drapers 'R Maltby & Sons' which was located on the eastern side of Louth Cornmarket, and is now the health food shop 'Holland & Barrett'.

The 1919 receipt was handwritten on a printed form. It has a ragged hole in the middle indicating that it was filed on a metal spike. When the invoice was paid, a penny postage stamp (bearing the head of King George V) was added, and payment acknowledged with a signature. A much more laborious system than the speedy computerised tills and card payments in use today!

The requirement to put a postage stamp on receipts was a form of sales tax, which continued until abolished by the 1964 Finance Act; the modern equivalent is VAT. Stamp Duty still exists in the form of a levy on property sales.

Ruth's blog 2018
Ruth's blog 2017
Ruth's blog 2016
Ruth's blog 2015
Ruth's blog 2014


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