Archive for September, 2012

Hidden Hertford Walks- Autumn & Winter 2012

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

This week we’d like to highlight our new Hidden Hertford Walks programme. These free walks have always been very popular and our guides our full of interesting and quirky facts about Hertford that it’s impossible to go on one and not learn something!

Old Cross, Hertford (c.1900)

The walks all focus on different themes and areas and this autumn they include a walk around the Priory Fields area led by Jean Riddell, one of the authors of the new book about the area, as well as our main Hidden Hertford walk and even a special Christmas Shopping themed walk in December!

7th October Hidden Hertford Gill Cordingley
21st October Criminal Hertford Edgar Lake
28th October Central Hertford Philip Sheail
4th November North Road Jean Riddell
9th December Priory Fields – Ware Road Jean Riddell
16th December Christmas Shopping in Victorian Hertford Edgar Lake

The walks are all free (though donations are welcome!) but booking is essential, please contact the museum on 01992 582686 or to secure your place(s) and find out the meeting point for the walk. Many of these walks were fully booked within days of the dates being published, so don’t delay!

All our walks are on Sunday mornings and start at 11am, perfectly timed to work up an appetite for a big Sunday lunch!

Garden courses & Garden visitors

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Our new museum gardeners- Daisy Roots- have been at work in our Jacobean Knot Garden today and they’ve cut back all our lavender leaving us with sacks full of cuttings and a staff room filled with the most gorgeous scent! We’re hoping to have some of our lavender on sale in our shop soon so check back for more information.

And whilst we’re on the subject of gardens this seems the perfect time to tell you about our new Garden History Course.

Kate Harwood, lecturer in Garden History for Birkbeck College, University of London and Coservation & PLanning Officer for the Hertfordshire Gardens Trust, is returning to the museum to teach a course on Tudor & Stuart Gardens in the English Renaissance. The course will run from the 4th October to the 13th December on Thursday afternoons 2.00-4.00pm and will cost £100.

We still have places left on this course so if you’re interested get in touch with the museum or pop in and pick up a registration form from our front desk!

Kate’s been a popular lecturer in the past so don’t miss out on your chance to learn from her.

Even though summer is drawing to a close our garden is still being used by lots of visitors as a quiet spot to sit and enjoy the plants or somewhere to eat lunch. Below are pictures of some of the non-human visitors who have been popping by for lunch!

This Red Admiral butterfly has been a regular visitor in the last few weeks.

Our Red Admiral posing for the camera!

Can you spot the acrobatic snail hanging upside down on our fennel?

Even though the swarm of bees we had at the start of the summer moved on there are still plenty around.

This beautiful spider seems to have set up home near our windows.

This ant isn't really a visitor, he lives in the garden all year round!

New Buttonhooks Exhibition Opens- A World in Miniature

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

This September and October we are hosting the annual exhibition of The Buttonhook Society in our temporary exhibition space and thanks to some very efficient work by the members it’s opened ahead of time!

The exhibition displays buttonhooks from the collections of many different society members and of all shapes and sizes! There are tiny retractable buttonhooks, to huge buttonhooks designed for boots. There are buttonhooks made with semi-precious stones as well as buttonhooks made from shellcasings. There’s even a buttonhook with a special Hertford connection…

Visit the museum to find out how this buttonhook is connected to Hertford!

Buttonhooks first became popular tools in the Victorian era and are designed to help fasten the tiny buttons that closed globves, shos and boots. In this exhibition alongside the hooks themselves there are examples of clothing with these tiny buttons (see if you can spot the buttons with Queen Victoria’s head stamped on them!) as well as other accessories such as glove stretchers and dressing table sets.

There are buttonhooks for everyone from those interested in military history (this hook commemorates the Battle of the Somme):

To hooks with handles that looks like all kinds of animals (this snail shaped hook is my favourite!)

If you’ve visited the exhibition let us know which buttonhook you would like to use on facebook or twitter!

Stores Open Day- a chance to see our Roman Corndryer!

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

This Saturday, 8th September, from 11am- 3pm we will be opening up our Stores to the public again as part of the Heritage Open Days scheme. You will be able to visit the Seed Warehouse (just off the Wash, maps available from the Museum) and see all of the work that goes on behind the scenes including conservation cleaning, our new library space and some of the collections we can’t fit in the museum!

Saturday will also be another chance to come and visit our Roman Corndryer. This structure was excavated from Foxholes Farm in 1974 and to protect it was lifted in two huge pieces and brought to the Seed Warehouse site. It is the only intact Roman Corndryer that you can visit in this country and possibly in the world so make sure you take this opportunity to see it!

One of our volunteers, Heather Hodgson, was present when the Corndryer was excavated and lifted and she has shared her memories below. If you visit on Saturday you can also see some of her cinefilm of the occasion.

In 1974 I had the good fortune to be on the Foxholes Farm excavation. After a field walking session over the field, Roman and Iron Age pottery were found. Redlands had the rights to extract gravel so there was a need to excavate. The report explains all the relevant details. The excavation was conducted by the Hertfordshire Archaeological Trust and the work was done in front of the of the gravel extraction. Towards the end of main excavation the last section of land was stripped on the edge of the valley and a chalky smear appeared in the soil. On investigation it revealed the outline of the corndryer as it was gradually revealed it became evident that we had something special. So careful excavation revealed an impressive unique structure and plans were made for the possible lifting and preservation.

Robert Kiln, chairman of HAT contacted Pynfords for their expertise in this kind of work. A mould of the corndryer stokehole was made with expended polystyrene, this was then used to make a new stokehole. Pains taking effort was taken to underpin the base of the corndryer with re-enforced concrete which was then had to be cut in two for transportation. Each section of the corndryer was then protected by timber ply shuttering and sand between the board and the walls. The sections were carefully loaded on lorry trailers. It was quite scary to see the lift, would it be alright or was it too heavy? Fortunately every thing went well and I did happen to have my camera with me to cover the event.

Arriving at the Seed Warehouse more fun and games getting the sections into the space where it now resides. The main square section was very gently lower on to industrial skates making sure it was carefully balanced. Then chains were attached to the section base and also to ratchet on the supporting pillar of the room where it now resides. Gradually is was moved inch by inch in through the doors and manoeuvred around the pillar. I am still amazed how they managed to with hardly any room, it did take a very long time. The same procedure for the stokehole section, being slimmer was a little easier, then carefully placed together.

Over the following months we (Heather Hodgson and Esme Freeman) reconstructed the stokehole and rejoined the sections, can you see the join?