FROM THE JOURNAL OF BEATRIX POTTER 1891
Friday, April 19th. — Went to the Museum and was much interested, an excellent compact collection, and in a handsome separate building across the garden is the Blackmore collection of antiquities illustrating the Palaeolithic and Neolithic man.
I should think it is about the finest collection of flints in the world. The objects were gathered from all parts of the world by the late Mr. Blackmore. There occurs a slight confusion with regard to objects other than flints, for instance engraved bones, as to which are real and which plaster.
Also curious, a collection of flint forgeries, a very fearful warning to avoid curiosity shops. Also the modern greenstones from New Zealand are handsomer than the Neolithic. The subject is beyond an ordinary person, but I appreciated an enormous horn from the drift at Salisbury.
The Antiquarian Museum contains, and was founded on, objects unearthed during the drainage after the cholera. A most singular medley of spurs, knives and hafts, keys, padlocks, stirrups, spoons, every imaginable small ironwork and Roman pottery from adjacent entrenchments, and a very perfect specimen of an Anglo-Saxon.
Also printed broadsides, play bills etc.; an enormous, ugly giant in a red gown; and a black hobby-horse with clapping mouth carried through the town on state occasions.
A good collection of birds, badly stuffed, but a few good. The last buzzard shot as late as ’71. A mottled hare, a breed found at a village whose name I have stupidly forgotten, grey all year round, the custodian suggested more like a white, little hare, but not sufficiently well set-up to judge. He said, for the first time in his experience, the glass of the cases containing ducks had fogged every morning during the intense cold last winter. I thought the greasy exhalation had become opaque and visual through cold, he said they thought through the salt.
There is a good small type-collection of fossils, and a case of most exquisite specimens from the chalk. Also, in a drawer, an old wooden doll roughly dressed in a bit of satin brocade, a flowered-pattern, said to have been dressed by Marie Antoinette in prison, touching if authentic.
Thanks to Stephen for these delightful extracts. We will have more next week, including Beatrix’s views on Stonehenge.