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Bridie’s Favourite Works of Art

A talented young pupil named Bridie has joined us this week for her work experience. We asked her to write about something she liked and Bridie has chosen to look closer at some of the stunning work in the Artwork 2019 exhibtion, which you can see for yourself until Saturday 8 February and in 20 Years of the Friends Purchase Prize, on until Saturday 18 April. Plan your visit here.

If you would like to apply for work experience at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, email buxton.museum@derbyshire.gov.uk, introduce yourself and tell us what you’re interested in. We can’t guarrantee a place but we will try our best.

Over to you, Bridie:

Not only does the museum display an incredible range of historic artefacts surrounding our area and resident history, but they also include not one, but two fantastic galleries, equally proffering a multitude, and clear variety of artworks by local artists and more.

A few of my personal favourite pieces from the student’s work in Gallery 1 include:

Anthony by Nicole Broadhurst

This piece exudes a strong understanding of light and colour, through its use of oils on the canvas. The anatomy and textures also add to the ‘strong’ look of this piece, clearly presenting a finalised and well-executed artwork.

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Marine Inspirations by Year Ten Pupils

The multiple sea-life inspired ceramics are very interesting to view, due to the expressive range within the display case, and how each student has chosen to interpret the idea surrounding ‘sea-life’. My personal favourite was a well-textured, almost skeletal looking fish with a colour contrast of blue and orange.

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Cityscape Silhouette by Chloe Foster

Black and white allow this piece to present the amazing amount of detail gone into it, with clear-cut use of the black paper, and simple canvas, this ‘Cityscape Silhouette’ almost appears to be a finely detailed painting.

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However, Gallery 2 also offers some fine pieces of work within its current showcase, some of my favourites being:

Collapsing Barn by Clare Benson

Awarded the ‘Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery Prize at the 2013 Derbyshire Open Art Competition’, this oil-pastel painting combines a clear understanding of perspective, with an excellent eye for colour. The presentation of rust on the barn stood out to me as an interesting and aesthetic technique too.

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Eyam Hall by Leri Kinder

This watercolour-based artwork was awarded the same prize as ‘Collapsing Barn’, only in 2016 instead. I really enjoyed the painterly techniques employed within this piece, as the lack of excessive strokes created a wonderfully simplistic yet visually-appealing image.

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Gritstone VII by Peter H. Gill

While small, this mixed-media creation beautifully defines its shapes and textures in order to illustrate the idea of a rock formation. Colour contrasts with the light, aquamarine blues and deep, muddy-reds also express a similar ‘vibe’, coming across as a stunningly-stylised artwork.

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A Fraudulent Governess

Derbyshire Record Office

I recently happened upon some material which piqued my interest: it was a small envelope of correspondence 1896-1900 relating to a former governess to Sir Vauncey Harpur Crewe’s daughters, named Miss Adams, who was involved in a court case.  If you’ve read my blog posts about Elizabeth Appleton, you’ll know that governesses have a particular fascination for me, so I felt compelled to find out more about Miss Adams.

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There was a suggestion that Lady Crewe might have to testify and letters from his daughter to the governess might be produced as evidence.  Sir Vauncey Harpur Crewe was clearly trying to prevent this happening and distance his family from any scandal.  With a bit of judicious searching on Ancestry, Findmypast, and the British Newspaper Archive (all free to use at the Record Office and your local Derbyshire library)  I found a wealth of information about Sarah A’Court which paints…

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What are your plans for Christmas this year?

Derbyshire Record Office

How many times have you been asked this already this year?  Hands up if you are planning a trip away – where are you going?

How about skating and tobogganing on Mont Blanc – just 10 guineas

Or perhaps a Mediterranean cruise to welcome the New Year – 25 guineas

And if you’re still hunting for that last minute Christmas present, why not show someone how much they mean to you with a tour of Rome – from just £10 (oops, perhaps that should be £820)

Don’t forget to read the small print…

If you’d rather stay at home, why not treat the children to a stylish new hat

Wherever you go and what you do, Derbyshire Record Office wishes you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year(that is for 2020 not 1899!)

Images courtesy of

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The Wreck of the Royal Charter

Working on the School Library Loans project at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery I come across a diverse range of wonderful objects; Maori clubs, Egyptian amulets, African statues and Tibetan ritual paraphernalia, to name but a few. One item that I came across, was, I have to be honest, not very exciting to look at. A block of polished fossiliferous limestone, 12cm square, with a small bronze plaque set into one side which reads, ‘A piece of rock on which the ROYAL CHARTER struck MOELFRE October 25th 1859’. However, all objects in a museum have a story to tell, and this rather unassuming block of stone tells of a tragedy that struck the coast of Anglesey over 150 years ago.

Memorial stone to the wreck of the Royal Charter in Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

The stone commemorates the wrecking of the Royal Charter, a passenger ship that was destroyed in one of the worst storms to hit Britain. The Royal Charter was built at the Sandycroft Ironworks on the River Dee at Hawarden, Flintshire, and was launched in 1855. She was a new type of ship, a 2719-ton iron-hulled steam clipper, built in the same way as an ordinary clipper ship but with auxiliary steam engines which could be used in the absence of suitable winds. The ship was used to take passengers to and from Australia and could carry up to 600 passengers. The ship was considered one of the fastest at the time and could make the journey to Australia in 60 days via the Cape of Good Hope.

On the fateful day of 25th October 1859 the ship was returning from Australia with 371 passengers and 112 crew, though exact numbers are sketchy as the inventory was lost in the wreck; the passengers included many gold miners, some of whom had struck it rich in Australia and were carrying large sums of gold about their persons. A consignment of gold was also being carried as cargo. As the ship reached the north-western tip of Anglesey the weather turned for the worse – in fact it would prove to be one of the most ferocious and destructive storms ever to hit the shores of Britain.

As the storm gathered the captain of the ship, Thomas Taylor, was advised to dock at Holyhead for shelter, but instead he decided to try and carry on to Liverpool, a decision that would have disastrous consequences. Near Point Lynas the Captain signalled to a Liverpool Pilot Boat, but conditions were so bad that the pilot could not reach the ship. During the night of 25/26 October the wind rose to Hurricane force 12 on the Beaufort Scale in what became known as the “Royal Charter Storm”.

Also known as the Great Storm of 1859, it is considered to be the most severe storm to hit the Irish Sea in the 19th century. There was extensive structural damage along the West coast of Britain and a total of 133 ships were sunk during the storm and another 90 badly damaged. The death toll was estimated at around 800, including some people killed on land by falling rocks and masonry.

As the conditions got worse the ship dropped both of its anchors late at night in the hope of riding out the storm. However, at around 2am on the morning of the 26th both anchor chains snapped. Despite cutting the masts to reduce the drag of the wind, the Royal Charter was driven inshore, with the steam engines unable to make headway against the gale. The ship initially grounded on a sandbank, but the rising tide drove her on to the rocks at a point just north of Moelfre at Porth Alerth on the north coast of Anglesey. Battered against the rocks by huge waves whipped up by winds of over 100 mph, she quickly broke up.

One member of the crew, Joseph Rogers, managed to swim ashore with a line, enabling a few people to be rescued, and a few others were able to struggle to shore through the surf. Unfortunately most of the passengers and crew, a total of over 450 people, died. Many of them were killed by being dashed against the rocks by the waves. Others were said to have drowned, weighed down by the belts of gold they were wearing around their bodies. The survivors, 21 passengers and 18 crew members, were all men, with no women or children saved. Bodies continued to wash up on the beach over the weeks following the shipwreck, and a memorial was placed on the cliff top, reading:

“Where the Royal Charter met its end and the memory of those who died.”

Memorial on Anglesey to the wreck of the Royal Charter

The aftermath of the storm was described by Charles Dickens in ‘The Uncommercial Traveller’. The disaster had an effect on the development of the Meteorological Office as Captain Robert FitzRoy, who was in charge of the office at the time, brought in the first gale warning service to prevent similar tragedies. The intensity of the “Royal Charter storm” and winds were frequently used as a yardstick in other national disasters – when the Tay Bridge collapsed in 1878 the Astronomer Royal referred to the Royal Charter storm frequently in his report. During an episode of the BBC TV Show Who Do YOu Think You Are?, gardener Monty Don discovered his great-great-grandfather, Reverend Charles Vere Hodge, died on board the Royal Charter.

The memorial stone from Buxton Museum and Art Gallery has now been transferred to Oriel Yns Mon on Anglesey, a museum dedicated to the history of the island, where it forms part of the displays and tells the story of the tragic events.

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery Festive Opening Times 2019

You’re no doubt wondering when you can visit Buxton Museum and Art Gallery this festive season and take a welcome cultural break from all that eating and drinking. Well, wonder no more; here are your opportunties to see some great admission-free exhibtions and get warm after braving Buxton’s frozen streets:

Saturday 21st December: Open 10 to 5

Sunday 22nd December: Closed

Monday 23rd December: Closed

Tuesday 24th December: Open 10 to 1

Wednesday 25th December: Closed

Thursday 26th December: Closed

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Friday 27th December: Open 10 to 5

Saturday 28th December: Open 10 to 5

Sunday 29th December: Closed

Monday 30th December: Closed

Tuesday 31 December: Open 10 to 4

Wednesday 1 January: Closed