VE Day 8 May 2020

The 8 May 2020 marks 75 years since VE Day, the end of the Second World War in Europe.  Over the years Epping Forest District Museum has marked many anniversaries connected with WW2 through special exhibitions.  These have explored the impact of the war on the district and the role local people played. From airfields and the defence of London, through bombing raids, evacuees, GIs, Land Girls and POWS, the war left an amazing legacy in our district.  Over the years many people have shared their stories of the war with us, and donated objects to the museum.  These form an legacy that helps us tell the story of this important part of the district’s history today.

Sadly, the exhibition we had planned for the 75th anniversary year, The Boys: Holocaust Survivors in the Epping Forest District has had to be postponed until next year.  We thought we’d take this opportunity to look back at some of the other exhibitions from previous years.

Poster Victory WW2 & Time for Tea

In 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of VE Day, the museum hosted the Victory exhibition, alongside Time for Tea.

In 2005 the museum received funding to record the memories of people who had lived through the war, and these featured in the special exhibition ‘Keep Smiling Through’. These memories now form an important part of the museum’s oral history collections.  The late Ray Sears, well known for his historical photograph collection of Waltham Abbey, recalled how he spent his time at school during the war sitting in the headmaster’s office, taking phone calls,

‘if the air raid warning ‘red’ comes through … you just used to say thank you and put the phone down …  you then dashed out to the playground and you had a whistle and you blew that whistle at the top of your voice … you had to make sure you had orderly lines of [children] running down there so they went into the shelters …we did that for, well I was there for what, near enough two years doing that.  You just sat in the shelter.’

Another fascinating story was that of Josef Kox, a German Prisoner of War who was transferred to England just before the war ended.  He was sent to a farm in Theydon Bois to work, then on to Hayes Hill Farm in Waltham Abbey where he met, and eventually married the farmer’s daughter, making his future life and home here.  You can still read about his experiences on the BBC People’s War website

https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/48/a7564548.shtml

Josef recalls, ‘At this late stage I would like to pay a tribute to the people of Waltham Abbey. Considering the war, six years of it… and people here suffered and everyone suffered. Everybody suffered in that war, didn’t matter where you were, or who you were, you suffered to some degree. So I was really surprised to find that people took to us, they were very tolerant and friendly and I will never forget that.’

 

In 2008 the special exhibition ‘Onwards and Upwards’ told the story of the Royal Naval submarine, HMS Sickle, that was sponsored by the people of Epping during WW2.  The commander, Lieut. J R Drummond, became known as the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo when one of the torpedoes fired from the submarine exploded under the casino.  Tragically, the submarine was itself lost with all hands on board on 18 June 1944.  A commemorative plaque for HMS Sickle and those who lost their lives has now been placed on the wall of St John’s Church in Epping.

 

Poster Make Do & Mend

In 2009 the museum’s collections were the inspiration for ‘Make Do and Mend’ a special exhibition in partnership with the Epping Forest District Council’s Arts Team, who worked with care home residents and young people on a project combining reminiscence and creativity.  Inspiration was taken from the Make Do and Mend campaign of WW2 to recreate new clothing from old materials.

 

 

 

 

The exhibitions themselves are now wonderful memories to share of the role the museum plays in bringing the district together to commemorate significant events and our part in them.  We very much look forward to welcoming you here again one day.

Local Legends: Edward Goldinge

Local Legends: Edward Goldinge 

We’ve come across some fascinating stories while researching our new school workshop, Local Legends, telling the stories of some important local people…

Did you know that Epping Forest District Museum occupies two old houses on Sun Street in Waltham Abbey? The older house was built in around 1520, during the reign of King Henry VIII.

The earliest resident who we think lived here was Edward Goldinge. He was a groom for Elizabeth I, in charge of the horses at the royal stables near to the Abbey Gardens. Kings and queens were frequent visitors to Waltham during this period, especially for the excellent hunting the ancient forests in the area offered.

Model of Tudor House showing smoke bayThere is a record of Edward living on Sun Street, in a location that could correspond with the house the museum is in today.  At this time the ground floor of the house was divided into three small rooms. The back room, known as the smoke bay, had a fire in the centre for cooking and heating the house. There was no floor above the smoke bay, so the smoke went straight up to the roof of the house and escaped through the rafters.

elizabeth I coin found in 1975 at 41 sun street

Chimneys became much more common later in the Tudor period, and one was added to this house to replace the smoke bay in around the 1560s.  When the museum was being refurbished a small silver coin dated 1562 was found near to this fireplace, which has helped us to date when this change took place.

Also on display in the museum are the remains of a leather Tudor shoe. This was found along with a piece of black Tudor stocking in the house opposite the museum, and together they make an unusual remnant of the past, as such biodegradable objects have usually rotted away over hundreds of years. Edward may have worn something very similar to this.

We have also found clues about what Edward may have done in his spare time. A die dating back to the sixteenth century was found at nearby Romeland in Waltham Abbey. Dice and card games were very popular in Tudor times, and people often gambled money on their games. Elizabeth I was reputed to be a keen card player. It is easy to imagine Edward relaxing at home on Sun Street with a few friends, playing dice or cards and perhaps even gambling a few Tudor coins on them.

If you have ever mislaid a coin, die or other small item at home, perhaps one day an archaeologist will find it and wonder about who you were, how you lived and what you liked to do…

 

 

Local Legends: Dick Turpin

We’ve come across some fascinating stories while researching our new school workshop, Local Legends, telling the stories of some important local people…

1986.8.958

Turpin’s Cave

Did you know that the notorious highwayman, Dick Turpin, was said to have lived in a “cave” at Loughton Camp, Epping Forest at the height of his criminal activities? In 1735, with his accomplices in the Gregory Gang, Turpin is believed to have broken into Traps Hill Farm in Loughton, the home of an elderly widow named Shelley.

 

When Shelley refused to reveal where her money was hidden, the gang apparently threatened to roast her over a fire. The threat prompted her terrified son to say where their valuables were hidden. The gang found £100, which was a fortune at the time, a silver tankard and some other household items. Rather than making a quick getaway though, the gang made themselves at home, cooking up some supper, drinking beer and wine from the cellar and popping next door to rob the neighbour while their victims looked on:

“They afterwards went into the cellar and drank several bottles of ale and wine, and broiled some meat, ate the relicts of a fillet of veal … and then they all went off, taking two of the farmer’s horses, to carry off their luggage…” – Read’s Weekly Journal, 8 February 1735

Following the incident, worried residents of Loughton, which in those days was a small village in the forest, installed ‘Turpin traps’ in their homes to protect themselves. These were heavy wooden flaps that could be let down to block the stairs, and were wedged in place with a pole. These traps remained in some homes for decades – apparently people living in the 1890s could still remember local homes having them.

Turpin themed ornaments were popular for many years as the legend of Dick Turpin grew. He was seen romantically by some as another Robin Hood – but although an important figure in our local history, sadly all the evidence points to Dick Turpin as being nothing more than a ruthless criminal.

 

 

You Wear it Well – volunteer blogs

Hear from some of our volunteers about their latest project, helping with the You Wear It Well exhibition and why they want to be a volunteer!

helenName: Helen

What is the current exhibition you are working on about?

The costume exhibition is called ‘You Wear it Well’. It tells the story of the museum’s costume collection and how we care for it.

Which has been your favourite costume you’ve worked on so far and why?

The 1914 wedding dress, it has swing to its structure and style.

 

 

What are you working on at the moment and going to work on next?

I have been working on condition checking and preparing for the exhibition. I have also been steaming the costume ready for photography and display. The next steps will including searching for ephemera related to the exhibition.

Why have you chosen to volunteer at Epping Forest District Museum?

I have an interest in history and museums in general. Also, a local resident in Waltham Abbey.

You Wear it Well – volunteer blogs

Hear from some of our volunteers about their latest project, helping with the You Wear It Well exhibition and why they want to be a volunteer!

MichaelaName: Michaela

What is the current exhibition you are working on about?

‘Wear it well’ – costume exhibition, deals with various aspects of the history of clothes from early 20th century up until the present day. This exhibition also explains how to look after the costume collection and what damages could occur.

Which has been your favourite costume you’ve worked on so far and why?

One of them would be an evening dress with floral decorations, a light blue one from the 1950s. It has a lovely ballroom feel, it’s in great condition, and as I love that time period, it is one of my favourites of this exhibition.

What are you working on at the moment and going to work on next?

I have been measuring and condition checking the costumes we chose for the exhibition, also I have started steaming them and will continue to do this.

Why have you chosen to volunteer at Epping Forest District Museum?

I have always been interested in history (any field) and have visited various museums since I was a child. As I don’t live far away and have a keen interest in behind the museum scenes, Epping Forest District Museum was an easy choice. I have learned a lot and have met lovely people.

You Wear it Well – volunteer blogs

Hear from some of our volunteers about their latest project, helping with the You Wear It Well exhibition and why they want to be a volunteer!

JoanName: Joan

What is the current exhibition you are working on about?

‘You wear it well’ exhibition is the new display for 2020. It involves fashion and accessories portraying the museums costume collection.

Which has been your favourite costume you’ve worked on so far and why?

A long black velvet evening coat, its timeless! It is elegant in good condition and the coat can be worn and suited over any dress.

 

 

What are you working on at the moment and going to work on next?

At the moment we are working on conditioning reports for the exhibition, such as accessories. Next, we have plans for laying out the Perspex exhibition cubes.

Why have you chosen to volunteer at Epping Forest District Museum?

I have a love of history, its interesting to learn low artefacts are cared for through conversation. Meeting new friends, in the last two years I have enjoyed working on the costume.

Being an apprentice at Epping Forest District Museum

Melis 1`Hi there, my name is Melis and I am a business admin and customer service apprentice at Epping Forest District Council. My first 6-month placement was here at Epping Forest District Museum.

My journey started off with leaving Harlow college with a distinction in music, and not knowing my next step to success. I had no interest in going to university or carry on being in education. My initial plan was to carry on doing music, but my route changed after having the suggestion of joining the council as an apprentice by my own mother.

I applied not knowing anything about the council at all, and within a few weeks, I had received an email to inform me that I will be interviewed but with a pre-training week taking place beforehand.

During my pre-training week, I met other apprentices to be, who were part of my age group, I wasn’t expecting this at all. I had learnt more about the departments in the council and a few skills on how to undergo an interview. All of this really helped me with succeeding in securing my apprenticeship placement at the council.

My interview had taken place right after that week and I believe that was the best interview I had ever experienced. This was because I felt more comfortable knowing that I had practiced this time. Whereas with my part time jobs in the past, I hadn’t prepared for an interview before and my interviews were based on how well I worked in a team activity rather than having a discussion in a one-to one meeting.

Melis 3My interviewer had asked which placement I’d be interested to work in first, and straight away I wanted to work at the museum as I had an interest in history and really liked working with children.

On induction day, we were presented to our managers and I was so delighted to meet my manager knowing that I had got the placement I wanted, I was very grateful. The next day, I had toured round the museum and Hemnall street and all my colleagues had introduced themselves to me and made me feel welcome.

 

I have been doing a variety of things at my first placement. I focused on a schedule that I’d be doing from Monday to Friday. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I’d be working with a colleague on marketing tasks, which would include marketing theory and updating contact lists for upcoming events. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, I would be helping the volunteers with the museum collection which was a great experience because, I had the opportunity to hold old items even from the Victorian period. I’d add new collections onto a spreadsheet, move boxes around to see what needs to be put on display and sometimes clean these items in a specific way as these were really old and delicate things to take care of.

On Friday mornings I’d sit on reception, deal with customers face to face as well as over the phone. I learnt how to use the till and learnt more about the shop stock which was interesting.

Aside from these specific projects I’d also deal with customers over the phone whilst being in the office and help with a number of activities and events that took place. For example: Toddler Tuesdays which is once a month and Museum Movers which is a movement class for those over 55. It was great to participate in these activities because not only was it fun but, I’d meet new customers all the time and they were very friendly.

I do not know where my next placement will be, but I am excited as there are so many opportunities coming my way. My apprenticeship lasts for 2 years meaning I get to work in four placements in total. Even if I am not keen on one placement, I will remain optimistic because firstly, it will give me the benefit of learning new skills, and secondly, it will help me decide which areas I would like to work in when I apply for a job at the council in two years’ time.

I have had a lovely experience here and I will really miss the Museum and staff and the volunteers, and surely will visit again soon!

 

 

Singing in the Wilderness

Swinging in the wilderness poster

 
Where: St John’s C of E Primary School, High Road, Buckhurst Hill, IG9 5RX

When: Saturday 29 September

Time: 3pm – 7pm

Price: Free (some activities may be charged for; all money raised will go to the school)

Everyone welcome

 

 

 

Epping Forest District Council’s Museums, Heritage and Culture team and St John’s C of E Primary School, Buckhurst Hill are hosting an event to celebrate the life and work of local artist Walter Spradbery.

IMG_1022 Open Air SocialIn 1938, Spradbery and his wife Dorothy held an ‘Open Air Social’ with stalls, sideshows, donkey rides, traditional dances and art displays. This will be recreation of that event on its 80th anniversary.

There will be a specially choreographed dance performance by Flux Dance Collective who has been working with pupils from the school to create a piece inspired by Spradbery. A historical interpreter will play the role of Walter Spradbery, leading tours into the wilderness to visit the site where the house once stood. The day will end with a fun performance by Impropera, the world’s only improvised Opera Company. Buckhurst Hill Community Association will have an art display, and there will be a small exhibition about Walter Spradbery.

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The Wilderness

 

He lived next door to St John’s C of E Primary School, in a house known as ‘The Wilderness’ from 1929 – 1969. The site is now part of Epping Forest and a stone plaque marks where the house once stood.

 

 

spradbery-events-flyer-front.jpg

This event is part of a programme of activities for the ‘Walter Spradbery, Artist in War and Peace’ exhibition, at Epping Forest District Museum, Waltham Abbey; on display from Saturday 21 July to Saturday 22 December 2018. For more information visit http://www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/museum

 
Walter Spradbery
Spradbery is best known for his poster designs for London Transport, one of which was recently used on the new signboards marking the boundaries of Epping Forest. He and his wife, opera singer Dorothy D’Orsay, also held many musical and opera performances in the gardens of ‘The Wilderness’ for the local community.
Spradbery was also a committed pacifist. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War, receiving the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his bravery in rescuing injured comrades under intense enemy fire.

Award-winning volunteer team

Andrew and Sarah SHARE awards 2Epping Forest District Museum and Lowewood Museum Collections Volunteers team have won the Collections Champion Award from SHARE Museums East.

Andrew and Sarah Goodliffe, two of our volunteers, attended the celebration evening at Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket on Wednesday 6 June to collect the award on behalf of the whole volunteering team. Our team was one of 11 from the East of England to be shortlisted for this award.

Our Volunteers

With only one full-time specialist Collections Officer the museum relies on the help and care the team of eight volunteers bring to the collection to fulfil its potential. In making their decision the judges considered the team’s passion, commitment, dedication and initiative.

Our core team of collections volunteers consist of 12 members. We have three volunteers who work on the garden and two front of house volunteers.  At the moment there are a further 12 volunteers working on specialist projects and exhibitions; the largest cohort has recently been researching Hertfordshire man Stephen Warner for the current exhibition Stephen Warner: One Man’s Journey through War at Lowewood Museum.

Volunteers’ Week

This week, 1 – 7 June, is Volunteers’ Week, a chance to thank all volunteers for their contribution to our service. This award, which the team were nominated for by Assistant Museums, Heritage and Culture Manager, Will O’Neill, is the perfect way to say thank you.

SHARE Museums East

SHARE Museums East, based in Norfolk, support museums in the East of England. They provide staff and volunteer training, project funding and help with collections management.

For more information visit http://sharemuseumseast.org.uk/

Save the Willingale Treasure!

Epping Forest District Museum (EFDM) is launching an appeal to save a medieval gold ring found in the parish of Willingale before the item goes on sale on the open market. It is the first medieval gem set ring to be found in the district, and the first known finger-ring to be discovered in the parish of Willingale. The decoration is of an extremely high standard and, to the best of our knowledge, unique. In total £11,500 is needed to save the ring and buy a display case for the community ensuring it is on free public display for generations to come. The campaign has already received support from the ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and SHARE Museums East and EFDM has committed funding from its reserves leaving £3000 to be raised. If the target’s reached the ring will go on public display in the museum’s newly renovated core gallery saving it for current and future residents to enjoy. If the funding is not raised, the ring may be sold on the open market and possibly leave the UK permanently.
Why it’s a great idea:
Recently unearthed by a metal detectorist the ring is thought to date from c.1200-1399 and would have been worn by a wealthy medieval nobleman. It is a fine and very well preserved example of a medieval sapphire set finger ring; the maker is unknown however the craftsmanship demonstrates great skill and technical ability. It is the first ring of its type to be found within the district, the decoration is of extremely high standard and, to the best of our knowledge, unique. We are the only museum in the district that covers archaeology and social history and we also act as the archaeological depository for the area. Our remit is to tell the human history of the Epping Forest District. If successful in securing the ring we would not only ensure its long term preservation but also make it widely available to the public through free exhibitions, inclusion in our school education programme, public talks as well as the ring being made available for loan and research.

If you would like to know more about our campaign please get in touch with the team at the museum on museum@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or 01992 716882.

If you would like to make a donation towards our campaign either visit the Museum or donate online at https://www.spacehive.com/willingaletreasure

Thank you.