Hill Hall Visitors Book

A blog written by Museum Remote Volunteer Amanda Ciccone.

We have all seen them and signed them on museum visits: a visitors book

“Great museum!”

“Loved the exhibition!”

“Greetings from (insert some far or near city)”

But did you know that, in the not-so-distant past, you might have signed a visitors book when visiting someone’s home?

A visitors book, bound in red leather with gold details, was uncovered at Epping Forest District Museum, and contains signatures from 1925 and 1926 of certain recognisable names. A short history of the book is told on its inscription page: it was used “at Hill Hall during the time of Sir Robert and Lady Hudson, and which records, among others, the Visit of Queen Mary on 29th June 1926”. The inscription also describes how the book was badly damaged in “the fire which destroyed much of the House on 18/19th April 1969…but (was) fortunately recovered”. Afterwards, the book was repaired at Wormwood Scrubs prison, where it presumably stayed until it was given to the museum.

History confirms that there was, indeed, a fire at Hill Hall in 1969, and the pages themselves show evidence of smoke damage. By then, however, Sir Robert and Lady Hudson had long been out of Hill Hall; the property had become a POW camp in WWII, and after that, a women’s prison.

Sir Robert Arundell Hudson (1864-1927) was secretary of a political organisation of the time, the National Liberal Federation. During his tenure, he saw the victory of the Liberal Party in the general election of 1906, which led to his knighthood. He married Mary (1867-1963) in 1923, which was, for both, a second marriage. Born Mary Milner, she was previously married to Alfred Harmsworth, Lord Northcliffe, a newspaper and publishing mogul who was, in fact, a proprietor of the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror.

Sir Robert and Lady Mary were newly married by the time they were accepting visitors at Hill Hall, but the marriage was not destined to be long-lasting; Sir Robert passed away in Berlin in 1927.

What do we know about the signatures themselves? Some were of politicians and military leaders & members such as Godfrey P. Collins (Liberal Party politician), Vivian Bulkeley-Johnson (amongst other professional experiences, was aide-de-camp to a Governor General of Canada and served in the Air Ministry), Bernard Freyberg (Governor-General of New Zealand), and Augustine Birrell (Liberal Party politician, and Chief Secretary for Ireland). Other interesting figures are Berkeley Levett, a witness of an event called the Royal Baccarat Scandal of 1890, and Sybil Middleton Grey, a philanthropist and Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse. Recognisable to mainstream culture we have Rudyard Kipling, author of the Jungle Book, along with his wife, Caroline (or “Carrie” as she calls herself in the visitors book).

What could they have been doing at Hill Hall? These meetings were likely professional as Sir Robert and many of his visitors were in the political sphere. Sir Robert’s party, though, had declined by the mid-1920s, the Conservatives occupying the majority in Parliament. Furthermore, this was the Interwar Era, a charged period characterised by major cultural shifts and evolving social attitudes towards class and the aristocracy. Also, of note, women had recently been granted the right to vote[i] and the right to run for office as a Member of Parliament[ii]. It is interesting to consider, then, how these big changes, whether or not they directly affected the lives of Sir Robert, Lady Mary and their visitors, influenced the discussions that took place at Hill Hall, or if they only provided fodder for small talk.

The visitors book itself has an intriguing trajectory, originating at a private manor-turned-prison, surviving a fire, then going to another prison, and finally landing at the museum. Its signatures document a brief period, within a new marriage, nestled between two major world wars, an impending economic depression, and cultural & societal revolutions, making this visitors book a true snapshot in time.

[i] Albeit only under certain conditions, under the Representation of the People Act of 1918. It was not until the Equal Franchise Act of 1928 that women and men had equal rights to vote.

[ii] Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act of 1918

Glass Bell

A blog written by Museum Remote Volunteer Amanda Ciccone.

Epping Forest District Museum has been working on a Review and Reimagine project since 2021, whereby the stored and displayed collection is audited. Objects are inspected, researched, and sometimes are put on display. Volunteers play a big part in every step.

Helen, museum volunteer since 2014, has been leading the compilation of an upcoming display of glass bells and goblets from the Bell Post House, which is now open to the public in the museum’s Core Gallery.

Four bells and two goblets are showcased. They appear to have been Christmas gifts from the 1980s – to whom exactly, whether to hotel guests or other customers, we aren’t entirely sure- and were eventually donated to the museum in 1995.[1]

To ready these objects for public view, there is a particular process that the museum follows:

  1. Condition check – Assessing the object by describing its background, current physical state and other key questions- Is the object stable? Is it complete? How damaged is it? (Among other questions)

  2. Location and Movement control – Concerns the transfer logistics between storage and gallery spaces. Is the object’s location updated on the museum database?

  3. Research & Label writing for public display – Follows the V&A Gallery Text guidance to ensure the clearest, most suitable text possible[2]. Never use long words where a short will do.

  4. Mount the object – Must think about how to best exhibit an object, taking environmental factors, the object’s state, and the best viewing conditions into consideration. How do we best display a glass object on a glass shelf?

When asked what she has learned from this experience of display compilation, Helen points out the cleaning of the glass (i.e., its conservation needs) and filling out the Condition checklist, as well as the mounting of the objects to prevent accidental vibration damage.  

This display will remain out until MAY 2023. Come see these beautiful glass bells and goblets, and the product of many weeks of research and care to make this exhibition a reality.

Brava, Helen, on a job well done!

[1] If anyone in the public is aware of more of these glass bells and goblets in existence, don’t hesitate to let the museum know!

[2] The writer of this article has in fact chosen to follow this text writing method.

Geneva Bible

A blog written by Museum Remote Volunteer Amanda Ciccone.

Epping Forest District Museum has in their possession a Geneva Bible, also colloquially called a Breeches Bible, printed in London by Robert Barker, “Printer to the Queen’s most excellent Majesty” in 1600. It is oak-covered with metal corners and edges, and is in delicate shape, showing many years of usage. Historically speaking and as a piece of literature, it is a fascinating object.

The etymology of “Geneva” Bible comes from where it was written and initially printed. The scholars who wrote it were English Protestants driven out of Catholic England in the mid-1550s to Geneva, Switzerland where they found the freedom to write their own translation, heavily Calvinist in ideology. William Whittingham, one such English exile and a follower of Reformation leader John Knox, largely oversaw the project. The New Testament was printed in 1557 and the full edition, including a revised New Testament, in 1560, but was not printed in England until the 1570s. The Geneva Bible’s sources came from a variety of other Bible translations, ranging from English, the Vulgate (Latin), Greek and Hebrew. This was never an “authorised” Bible version in England, though it was very popular and influential.

“Breeches” Bible refers to a particular word choice that had not been used in earlier versions: in Genesis 3:7, instead of Adam and Eve making apurns/aprons for themselves to wear, as was used in the previous Great Bible, Coverdale, and Tyndale’s translations, in the Genevan, they are making breeches.

There are a few ways that this version is unique. For one, it was the first time in an English translation that chapters were divided into numbered verses. Secondly, the font was in Roman type rather than Blackletter[1]. Thirdly, this version includes illustrations, charts and margins with commentary notes and summarisations. The EFD Museum Bible copy contains two “concordances” (alphabetical lists), for instance, of word translations and explanations. These formatting choices functioned for facilitated cross-referencing and comprehension.

The margin notes were controversial, for they were seen as containing antigovernment sentiments: Calvinists – and eventually Puritans – did not believe in the hierarchical structure that made up the Church of England. As a reaction to this fundamental difference in belief and the concern born out of it, the Bishops’ Bible was created in 1568 under Queen Elizabeth I, which was the next authorised Bible in England after the Great Bible under King Henry VIII.

The next significant English Bible translation that is often used to contrast the Geneva Bible is the King James Version (KJV) of 1611. It has been said that King James I also took issue with the Geneva version’s margin notes, calling them “seditious”. One example is in Exodus 1:19, where the corresponding margin note reads:

“Their disobedience herein [to the Pharaoh] was lawful, but their dissembling was evil.”

While it is easy to see how the direct lawful disobeying of a monarch put in text would cause an inflamed reaction, it is questionable the true extent to which King James disapproved the Geneva version, and to what degree this disapproval motivated the creation of the KJV. King James had only occupied the throne for less than one year, a succession which merged the Scottish and English crowns, when he convened the Puritans and the Church of England at the Hampton Court Conference in 1604 with the objective of exploring further religious reforms. This is where plans to make a new Bible version first developed. The translators under King James consulted previous English translated Bibles, even the Geneva version, in writing the KJV.

The Geneva Bible was banned soon after the KJV was published in 1611, though it certainly did not disappear. The Geneva Bible is often called the Bible of Shakespeare, and it continued to be influential in the political turmoil that led to the English Civil War. This was even the Bible version that the Puritans carried across the Atlantic in 1620. It has been said that the failure that the Puritans saw of not being heard by King James at the Hampton Court Conference in 1604 was what led to their separation from England, going first to the Netherlands, and eventually to the “New World”.

We can detect constant and varying levels of tension when studying the subject of Bible translations: that between language, the ethics of translating at all, accessibility to the public, and authority. Furthermore, we see a pattern of cause and effect: one Bible version causing another to develop, causing a reaction from one entity, which causes another Bible version to develop…and so on and so forth.

These themes are certainly at play in the evolution of the Geneva Bible. So significant this version has been, it is difficult to imagine certain historical events happening without it.


Daniell, David (2003). The Bible in English: its history and influence. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press.

Forman, Rev. Dr. Charles C (1959). Four Early Bibles in Pilgrim Hall. Pilgrim Society Note, Series One, Number Nine.

McAfee, Cleland Boyd (1912). Lecture 1: Preparing the Way – The English Bible Before King James.

[1] This is not a consistent feature in every edition, however. In the Geneva Bible at EFD Museum, the margin notes are in Roman type, but not the verses, which are in Blackletter. This is also the case in one of the Geneva Bibles brought over by the Puritans to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620.


Sadly, there is no evidence to show Boudicca did fight a battle against the Romans at Ambresbury Banks, the Iron Age Hill Fort in Epping Forest around 60 or 61 AD. The legend remains an important story to share about the district and how the past is remembered. 

The story of Boudicca became popular in Victorian times as people wanted to commemorate the new young Queen by recalling strong women leaders in the past. Boudicca’s name even translates as the one who will bring Victory. Poems about Boudicca fighting her battle at Ambersbury Banks were written during this period, and this obelisk in a field in Upshire was placed at the point Boudicca was believed to have taken poison, to avoid being captured by the Roman Army. 

This artist’s impression shows what the entrance to Ambresbury Banks might have looked like during Boudicca’s time based on the evidence that has been found there. We know it was a large – just over 17 acres – enclosure with a single bank and a wide ditch – potentially up to 6m wide and 10m deep.  The entrance to it was by a causeway over the ditch.  The sides of the entrance were built up with Puddingstone – in impressive looking natural stone with tiny stones set in what looks like cement but is natural rock. There were 240 blocks of stone on one side of the entrance, skillfully laid without mortar. There is evidence of two sets of post holes suggesting there were inner and outer gates.  These seem to have been one wide gate as there is no evidence of postholes in the middle of the gap.  Traces of cartwheel tracks were found, and some fragments of broken pots in the ditch show evidence of occupation.  However, there’s no evidence dating from the time of Boudicca’s rebellion so Ambresbury Banks was out of use as a hill fort by this time.

As for the debate on how you pronounce her name, well that’s for another time!

New Acquisition – Love Token

A blog written by Museum Remote Volunteer Amanda Ciccone.

Epping Forest District Museum (EFDM) would like to highlight a recent acquisition, a James I penny, that was previously modified as a love token. I will describe this penny and its background, explain the love token coin phenomenon, and finally, explore the ways to dig deeper into the emotions that surround it.

This pierced, silver James I penny, struck in the first quarter of the 1600s, was found by a metal detectorist in 2017 at North Weald Basset, Essex near Latton Priory. The obverse, or front of the penny, has a Tudor rose and the legend surrounding it I D G ROSA SINE SPINA, which translates to James by the Grace of God a rose without a thorn. The reverse has an image of a thistle as well as the words encircling TUETUR UNITA DEUS, translating to May God protect these united kingdoms.

In addition to its antiquity, what makes this penny special is its S shape; being bent in this way, it was concluded in the Treasure process that the coin was used as a love token and not currency. Its unique shape, the single piercing at the top, and it being made of more than 10% silver, makes the penny ‘treasure’ as defined in the Treasure Act of 1996.

There are endless examples of love as manifested through artefacts throughout history, though this trend of turning a coin into a love token, like in the style of the James I penny, appears to have existed off and on from the post-Medieval to modern eras [1]. The purpose of bending the coin wavily would be to avoid spending it accidently, though we do not see every token changed in this way. Other modifications we might see on a love token are text engravings (initials, small phrases), shape and dot indentations, and the relief purposely rubbed away. The single piercing at the top of this penny indicates that it was likely worn as jewellery.

Regarding purpose, there were several, the most obvious being to make a love declaration. A suitor would give a token to their “crush”, and the reciprocity of affections would be known by whether the coin was kept or not. A love token, though, could mean a good luck charm, be used to make birth and marriage announcements, or act as a keepsakes in the event of a death. There were even ones called convict love tokens in the 18th and19th centuries, where prisoners in England being sent to Australia and elsewhere customised coins for their loved ones, to be kept as personal mementos.

To discover what a love token coin meant to those who used them – that is to say, what emotions they might have felt – has its challenges. For one, attempting to uncover an individual story behind a coin is sometimes a success, but sometimes not.[2] Even if there is an inscription or initials, this will often be too generic to yield more information. Furthermore, a coin being a movable object – not a static piece of architecture, say – gives a coin infinite possibilities of definition relative to its immediate environment.

How else can we elevate the discussion to include emotions? One way is to find more context to put love token coins in, which I believe means drawing attention to the role of silver in England from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Silver was known as being easily bendable, which proved problematic in England over the centuries. In the 17th century, coins could be clipped, meaning, one could shave off the silver, boil it down into bullion, and use as counterfeit. English silver at one point had more value abroad than domestically. The English government attempted to face these challenges through the Great Recoinage of 1696. However, the updated currency transition was slower than expected, and the counterfeit activities continued through the following century and beyond, until the Great Recoinage of 1816.

It is interesting to note, then, that while some people saw an illegal opportunity in silver, others[3] used it for the more innocuous purpose of creating an emotional connection with another. Understanding this does at least two things: For one, it makes us consider the practical reasons for choosing a coin as the medium for a love token (an accessible object that is easy to manipulate). It is also a reminder that the same object can produce varying emotions: love, loss, and greed to name a few.

It should be acknowledged that archaeologists since a few decades have been incorporating emotions into their discipline, and those experts even acknowledge the difficulties of studying an unwritten, unseen entity. They have posed worthy questions and have encouraged the usage of a uniform vocabulary, though, in helping to look at an artefact from other angles. The discussion regarding the relationship between emotions and material things or culture, (Tarlow; Harris and Sørensen) and the action of exchange as emotional (Thomas Maschio, as explained by Harris and Sørensen) are particularly relevant, and very compelling literature.

Finally, there is a folklore quality that surrounds love token coins: while there is much that is lost over time, we recognise the feelings in regarding a love token without quite knowing how to prove or explain it. The number of societies, coin collecting websites, Facebook groups, and YouTube videos that focus on love token coins was noteworthy in researching for this article, and I believe their existence reinforces the idea of love token coins as a living, yet bodiless culture.

And so, while there may be much that we do not and cannot know about the emotions that surround a love token coin, perhaps this might not be seen as an obstacle. We can, instead, be encouraged to take emotions out of the equation and go in a different direction, such as studying the context of an artefact. There is potential to develop ideas and theories that might not otherwise be possible.

On the other side of the coin, the emotions that love tokens conjure in us in the present day, without knowing an individual token’s origins, are part of what sustains their legacy.

The following articles were highly influential in the writing of this blog and in considering every possible angle on the topic of studying emotions and artefacts:

  • Tarlow, S. 2012. The Archaeology of Emotion and Affect, The Annual Review of Anthropology, 41:169-85
  • Harris, O.J.T. and Sørensen, T.F. 2010. Rethinking emotion and material culture, Archaeological Dialogues, Volume 17, Issue 2, Cambridge University Press, pp. 145-163

[1] Though the research for this article focused on the love token coin trend in the English-speaking world, it could very well have been a practice in other communities, or something close to it, a coin being such a common object across so many cultures.

[2] Interestingly, convict love tokens coins seemed to tend to contain more specific information – complete names and dates – than other types of love tokens. 

[3] Perhaps the same person engaged in both activities, making this discussion more complicated!

Can you guess what this is?

This object could so easily have been overlooked – it is just a small lump of lead, a soft metal.  However, on closer inspection, archaeologists realised it had the Runic alphabet inscribed on it. We’ll never know who did this, or why – perhaps they thought rather than throwing this scrap of lead away, it would be perfect for practising their handwriting! 

This could be one of the earliest representations of this alphabet from Saxon times and is of national importance. 

It was found at the site of what is believed to have been a Viking Hall, underneath what are now the remains of the cloisters in the Abbey Gardens, in Waltham Abbey.  Pupils learn about this alphabet, how it was made of straight lines to make it easier to carve into stone, wood and metal.  As part of the Anglo Saxon and Viking History Day they translate their own name into Runes to inscribe on the helmets they make!

Some Victorian magic!

One of our popular school workshops is a local history study about life in Victorian times. The children are always fascinated by the original Victorian objects they get to handle, like the elegantly curved carpet beater and the frighteningly well-worn headmaster’s cane. But one object which stands out for many of the children is our reproduction zoetrope.

You may have seen a zoetrope: a spinning disk with sides which have vertical slits cut into the top. A narrow strip of paper is inserted around the inside of the zoetrope, decorated with pictures of something like a horse galloping. Each picture is slightly different from the one next to it. When the children spin the zoetrope and look down into it from above, they see nothing but a blur of grey; but when they try looking through the slits in the sides, they are amazed to see that the horses have come to life and are galloping around the inside of the zoetrope!

Victorian children must have been even more astounded than our schoolchildren today to see the pictures moving, at a time when even still photographs were a new phenomenon. And the parents of these young Victorians had grown up in a time when the only way to record images of places, people and animals was to literally paint or draw them.

The Victorians made huge advances in science, and scientific toys were popular. The zoetrope’s design used a discovery about how human eyes work: Images captured by our eyes are sent to the brain, where they are joined together to form a continuous moving image. So, when looking through the top of the zoetrope, you capture lots of images of the horse at once, and your brain joins these into a grey blur. But if you look through the slits, your eye can only ever see one horse at a time. Your brain stitches each slightly different image of the horse together, so that the horse seems to be moving.

This is called an optical illusion, because you are being tricked into seeing still images as moving ones! The same trick was later used to make films, which for a long time were made from tapes containing many thousands of still photographs.

Another optical toy which was popular in Victorian times was the kaleidoscope. In my first year at a local primary school, we had an ancient one in our classroom. Over the years, hundreds of children must have enjoyed looking into the eyepiece and seeing the beautiful symmetrical patterns made by coloured glass beads and sequins, reflected in the kaleidoscope’s internal mirrors. It took me some time to realise just how few beads and sequins were inside, only about eight!

The humble spinner was also popular with Victorian children. This was a wooden disc with a pointed stick pushed through the middle. With practice, by quickly twisting the stick around, you could make the disc spin for a considerable time. Even the spinner was a chance to create an optical illusion. Patterns on the disc would appear to change once the spinner was in motion – a spiral would become a series of circles within each other, or a series of red and yellow stripes would merge to become orange.

The Victorians are often portrayed as severe, but there is plenty of evidence that they looked for opportunities to use new science and inventions to have fun and make exciting toys.

Holocaust Memorial Day

Following our recent project highlighting the local district story of The Boys we have created a film about the work we undertook and some of the outcomes of it.

The project at the museum told the story of Holocaust survivors who came to the district and started their journey to new lives.

This video shows the parts of the project including a return to Holmehurst house where the boys originally stayed and the museum exhibition project.

Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for funding this project and all the partners and groups involved for making it happen.

Brass Rubbing & Monumental Brass

A blog written by Museum Remote Volunteer Amanda Ciccone.

The topic of this blog was inspired by a recent discovery in the Museum archives, as part of their Review, Rationalise and Recycle project, of several brass rubbings; the ones that have been identified are of Epping Forest District monumental brasses.

It’s useful from the beginning to clearly define monumental brass and brass rubbing, As while they are two distinct practices, they depict the same image, and so it is easy to mix the two when learning about them: A monumental brass is an inscribed memorial installed in the floor or wall, often in a church, and a brass rubbing is the reproduction of the monumental brass on a sheet of paper.

Project Officer Esther Green with the objects found.

Brass rubbing is a pastime and artform dating back to the Victorian period.  The technique is in fact very similar to the coin-rubbing over paper activities you might have enjoyed as a child. Paper, wax usually (or graphite or chalk), dusting and cleaning tools are needed. In brief, you must first clean your surface, lay and affix the paper over the monumental brass, then “colour” the paper with your wax crayon from top to bottom. The product is a black and white recreation – or whatever colour the wax is – of the monumental brass.

While brass rubbing remains legal, much precaution is exercised towards the monumental brasses themselves, and reasonably so. Communication and coordination with the church where the monumental brass is kept is an essential preliminary step. Furthermore, if a facsimile of a brass exists, the preference is to make the facsimile the brass rubbing subject instead. The Monumental Brass Society is an excellent resource for those who would like to learn more about the practice and should be referred to.

Monumental brasses emerged in the 13th century in Western Europe and became the preferred choice of memorial type over wooden and stone effigies, due to their high durability, brass being an alloy of copper and zinc, and because they do not take up any volume, being embedded in a floor or wall. Although we see several types of professions depicted in monumental brasses, a person certainly had to have money to arrange for a brass of themselves done.

Monumental brasses saw considerable destruction during the Reformation, re-emerged slightly under Elizabeth I’s rule, and met another sharp decline upon the Civil War. Though there have been periods of resurgence in the centuries since, the 13th to 16th centuries is regarded as the high period of memorial brass making.

England is considered to have the greatest number of monumental brasses today, many of which are in the eastern counties. One brass rubbing at EFD Museum is of a highly regarded brass, that of Archbishop of York Samuel Harsnett (1561-1631), which is located at St Mary’s Church in Chigwell, just near the Chigwell School that he founded in 1629. The quality of brasses is said to have declined by the 17th century in the post-Reformation period, but Archbishop Harsnett’s stands out as particularly well made.

The subjects in brasses are often not famous, yet they tell a compelling story all the same.

One brass rubbing found at the museum is of a monumental brass from Stanford Rivers, Anne Napper, who passed in 1584. In her brass, she kneels at a pew with an open book in front of her, faces diagonally to her right, and 6 boys kneel behind her. In the inscription, she is described as the late wife of William Napper and daughter to William Shelton.

In researching for this article, a brass rubbing of a William Napper’s monumental brass was discovered on the V&A Museum Collections website. Anne Shelton from Ongar, her father William Shelton, and 6 sons are referenced on his inscription. We do not know the year of his death, as it is left partially blank; people sometimes commissioned brasses before their death, and the final inscription never got attended to. Nevertheless, we can reasonably say that these inscriptions, that of Anne Napper’s and William Napper’s, reference the same people and are not coincidental.

The catch? William Napper’s monumental brass is in Dorset.

Further research revealed that at least one son, and other Napper – sometimes spelled Napier – descendants were also buried in Dorset, indicating a family relocation to another county.

Perhaps a husband and wife being buried this far apart in early to mid-1600s England is in fact nothing highly unusual. The mobility here is eye-catching to modern eyes, nonetheless. Did work obligations take William Napper and their sons away from Essex, heartbreak, something else entirely? History has not preserved more details, though these are highly personal reasons in any case. If anything, it is rather amazing to this article’s author to have accidently connected two monumental brasses of a husband and wife separated by this distance, and what this mobility could reflect about family life in this period.

The potential for learning, discovery and storytelling is vast in both monumental brasses and brass rubbings, two different disciplines, but which are inextricably linked. They are subjects easily recommended to any history lover.


Ellen Buxton: A Victorian Childhood

Ellen Buxton came from the large family of social reformers and philanthropists.  Her grandfather was Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton who led the campaign to abolish slavery.  The Buxton family had made their money in the family brewery, based in Spitalfields.  Ellen married a cousin, Robert Barclay, whose family were connected with Barclays bank.

As a young girl growing up in Leytonstone, Ellen had a great deal of time to explore the local area and Epping Forest with her brothers and sisters – she was one of 14 children, although three siblings died in childhood. 

Ellen loved to write in her diary and make sketches of family life, including many of her brothers and sisters playing with their favourite toys.  Her descendants published extracts from her diary and the images in these make a wonderful resource for helping children today find out what toys children played with over 100 years ago.  How many toys do you recognise in this drawing of everyone playing the garden?

There is a china doll in the museum’s collections, which comes from the Buxton family.  It is possible it might be the doll Ellen drew her sisters playing with in this sketch.  They are certainly handling it very carefully.