Kind words from a happy customer after a family visit to our Tudor event on 14 December:
Saturday’s display was absolutely fabulous: we twice saw the Martial Arts display . We chatted with the three members coming from Wales and all three of them were very very knowledgeable and keen to share.
Having colouring/easy craft activities around the room was fab as one of my children was busy elsewhere, still listening to the talk.
What a food display ! what a lovely bunch of costumes !
Music was perfect: not too loud , not too tiring and nice and joyful in the background. Even from the cathedral entrance, it sounded great.
It was great to see the reindeer again for a Christmas feeling.
The Tudor Christmas festivities came, and went. And so did the crowds! Over one thousand visitors on Saturday enjoyed crafts, costumes, falcons, the table (not quite set for a King, but pretty good), martial arts, reindeer and friendly, happy company.
Thank you to the so many concerned in the preparation of it all – Owain Hughes, whose idea it all was; the sewing ladies; the pastry chefs and craftspeople; the decorators; the Albion Historical Falconry team; our friends from the Reindeer Centre,; the Salisbury Playhouse (for costumes); staff and volunteers; the Director (for letting us have real Tudor items on the table, and birds inside our beautiful King’s Room); David Davies who played the harpsichord beautifully and the man with the fife and drum, Jonathan Weekes!
And if there are any visitors reading this blog…….. Thank you for coming.
The decorations and table will remain on display until Twelfth Night, as is fitting.
An added incentive to be here on Saturday 14th is the fact that the entire staff will be in costume, as well as some of the Volunteers. Yes, even our esteemed Director, Adrian Green!
The King’s Room will be closed on Friday to put up the tables and other items and by Saturday morning it will be all systems go. Be met at the gate by a certain bearded figure (no, not Father Christmas or Henry VIII) and see the reindeer. Then come in to Reception where the servants will welcome you. Walk the corridors, enjoying the decorations, and come up to the feasting room where musicians, falcons, story tellers and servants will be entertaining, and about to carve the boar’s head.
I only hope the falcons don’t think the food is real!
If you have been in to the museum recently you will have seen it beginning to be transformed, forward in time to Christmas, and back to Tudor times.
Volunteers are in the museum each morning, before opening time, to start putting the decorations up. Sophia Sample and Sally Brown have been paramount in creating the green swags, table and window decorations. Mary Crane and an enormous team of stitchers have produced Tudor Roses which now find their moment, as you can see…
On Monday (25 November) I was delighted to be able to attend a ‘Collections in Focus’ talk given by Simon Cleggett, Project Manager at Wessex Archaeology.
Entitled ’Echoes of the Voices from WW1: The Larkhill 300’, this concerned the exciting and varied discoveries made at Larkhill, Bulford and Tidworth for the Army Basing Programme, whereby some 30,000 troops and their families will need to be accommodated following their return to the UK. The archaeological investigation has entailed stripping some 33 hectares of land back to the bare chalk, revealing artefacts dating from the Early Neolithic to modern ‘conflict archaeology’ pertaining to World War 1.
Click here to read more about Wessex Archaeology’s excavations
Among the early Neolithic finds was a causewayed enclosure which is, in fact, the closest causewayed enclosure to Stonehenge yet found, and dates to about 900 years pre-Stonehenge Phase 1. Thus it’s not too fanciful to consider that the people involved in its construction may have been involved in the conceptualisation of the future Stonehenge. There are just over 80 causewayed enclosures in the UK and they are thus fairly rare.
As a scientist (albeit a chemist, but I did once study ‘A’Level zoology) I was intrigued to learn that (being Caprinae) sheep and goats are anatomically uncannily very similar – almost identical. Hence distinguishing between the two requires outstanding observational skills and extensive practice. This has been quite problematic archaeologically, and archaeologists refer to such skeletons as sheep-goats. (This reminded me of how embarrassed I once was when having a lift home from work with a colleague. Noticing a large number of animals in a field, I exclaimed, “Blimey, look at all those goats!” He fell about laughing and said, ”Those are not goats, they’re sheep that have recently been shorn”!). I now don’t feel quite so foolish.
In terms of ‘Conflict
Archaeology’, Larkhill turns out to be the largest WW1 practice battlefield
ever excavated. It was very poignant that, occurring during 2016-2017, the
excavations occurred during the centenary of WW1 itself. This did not go
unnoticed by the archaeologists on site. The excavations revealed WW1 practice
trenches and tunnels, the entrances of which had graphitic graffiti of soldiers
(rank, name and number) who were training there, and whose families may
therefore be traceable. There were 400 pieces of graffiti pertaining to 300
names, this inspiring the title of Simon’s talk.
It is anticipated that the many artefacts found during these excavations will eventually be housed in Salisbury Museum.
On Monday 25 November, from 1.30 – 4pm, you are invited to help us by coming along to a taster workshop in the Lecture Hall at the museum, testing out a range of arts and craft courses which we hope to make available as part of the Well-City project later. All we ask is that you spare some time at the end to feed back on your experience.
No experience necessary. Refreshments provided. Contact Sarah Gregson at the museum.
It’s Good to Talk!
On the first Monday of each month, from 10.30 – noon, all sorts of people gather in the Lecture Hall at the museum……for conversation.
It is said to be a lost art, but not here!
Each month objects are taken from the museum collections and displayed as starting points for conversation and the sharing of memories and ideas.
These are sessions that include refreshments and everyone is welcome.
Are you interested, or do you know someone who might be? Do come along and see what happens.
Spring dates: 6 January; 3 February; 2 March; 6 April.
Ever wondered why we talk about ‘Yule-tide’? Apparently it is, as far as we are concerned here in Britain, an Anglo-Saxon celebration of mid-winter. Officially it begins for us this year on Sunday 22 December and goes on until Thursday 7 January 2020. It eventually became tied up with the Christian festival of Christmas and we maintain some of the heathen practices as part of our modern celebration. It always was a time to celebrate of course, as the sun began its journey back to spring and summer after 21 December.
Traditionally (this time a Viking thing), a large log (the ‘Yule log’) would be selected in the forest on Christmas Eve, decorated with ribbons, dragged home and laid upon the hearth. After lighting it was kept burning throughout the twelve days of Christmas. It was considered lucky to keep some of the charred remains to kindle the log of the following year.
Another great Christmas tradition is the singing of carols. Whether the word carol comes from the Latin caraula or the French carole, its original meaning is the same – a dance with a song. The dance element appears to have disappeared over the centuries but the song was used to convey stories, normally that of the Nativity. The earliest recorded published collection of carols is in 1521, by Wynken de Worde which includes the Boars Head Carol.
The boar’s head became part of the Christmas feast in Medieval times but its history goes back to Roman times or before. The boar was the greatly feared master of the forest, and the serving of a dead boar’s head was symbolic of good over evil or the triumph of the Christ Child over sin.
You will see the boar’s head take pride of place amongst the feast in the King’s Room on 14 December, and hear Christmas music, and see the Yule log. There will also be a decorated spinning wheel (more about that later), story telling, Tudor characters and falcons, Tudor martial arts (for the youngsters!)
The Volunteers have been busy! Please make sure Saturday 14 December is in your diary.