The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is celebrating as the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced £868,100 of National Lottery funding towards its extension project.
Made possible by National Lottery players, today’s funding success is an important milestone, bringing the project another step closer to fruition and unlocking further funding opportunities. Last year the museum was awarded £69,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to develop plans for the proposed £1.8m extension on the Long Bridge side of the building. The plans were approved by North Devon Council planning team earlier this month.
A further £250,000 has been committed to the project by North Devon Council and the museum is through to the second stage of a funding bid for £500,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund. A fundraising campaign, led by the Museum Development Trust, is also underway and a number of corporate sponsors have already come on board.
North Devon Council Executive Member responsible for culture, Councillor Brian Moores, says: “What incredible news! This is a massive boost for the museum and we’re overjoyed. This brings the amount of National Lottery funding up to £937,000, which is half of the overall cost of the extension project.
“We now wait with bated breath for the results of the museum’s bid for Coastal Communities Funding. The museum staff, volunteers and the Museum Development Trust are working so hard to drive this project forward, they should be very proud of what they have achieved so far.”
Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “For nearly 130 years, this museum has been open to the public, telling the story of North Devon – from arts and manufacture to social history and ordinary moments captured on film.
“Now, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the museum has taken another crucial step towards transforming the way people can access their heritage, with an outreach programme and the creation of space for community activities set to make the museum an even more valuable part of North Devon life.”
If you would like to help support the project, you can donate online at mbndtrust.org. For more information about corporate sponsorship contact the museum on 01271 346747 or email email@example.com.
A memorial plaque is planned for a plinth in Rotary Gardens, Pilton next year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
North Devon Council is appealing for people to come forward with stories, pictures or letters back home of any men or women from the Pilton area who served, fought and survived; or relating to one of the 39 Pilton men who lost their lives in the war.
Executive Member responsible for parks, leisure and culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says, “This is an opportunity for local people to get involved and share memories of the war with the wider community in a lasting memorial to commemorate local heroes who fought for our country.”
Local ward member for Barnstaple Pilton, Councillor Mair Manuel, who has been heavily involved with the project, says, “I have been pleased to be involved with this project from its inception. This will be a public recognition of the sacrifices made, and I hope that any family which suffered will feel able to contribute their story. The plinth will also be an easily accessible point where people can pay their respects in future years.”
Local ward member for Barnstaple Pilton, Councillor Brian Greenslade says “I welcome this very much. We must never forget the carnage of the First World War and what it meant for so many individuals and their families. My grandfather fought in this conflict in the general area of Ypres. Thankfully he survived and lived until age 84. One experience I treasure is being able to be in Ypres on Armistice Day some while ago and being able to lay a wreath at the Menin Gate during the remembrance event. I am sure many brave people from Pilton also took part in these battles and it is right that “We remember them.”
Martin Haddrill, a volunteer for the project, says, “Pilton, the original settlement of Barnstaple, has a great sense of history as shown by the success of the heritage archive ‘The Pilton Story’. Before it is too late, we hope to collect stories of some of the men and women from Pilton who fought in the conflict and, in some cases, did not return. Their stories will be told on the fourth plinth in the centre of Rotary Gardens.”
If anyone has any information they would like to share, please contact the parks department on 01271 388326 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If ever you are to visit Newfoundland, the chances are that you’ll meet quite a few locals whose roots are planted firmly in the South West of England. There’s also a great chance that those roots would be somewhere among the fishing communities of the North Devon coast.
While there, you might also get to hear some of the traditional songs that are part of Newfoundland culture, songs which had arrived on boats from this area generations earlier – and stayed there.
It’s estimated that over 60% of people living in Canada’s most easterly province can trace their ancestry to South West England, and Devon in particular. It’s a link that spans 3,500 miles and hundreds of years, and today, the Devon-Newfoundland connection lives on not just through a sense of shared history, but through song. When they left these shores for good, the settlers – largely fishing folk – took the songs they’d learned at home with them.
Centuries later, it’s in the relatively remote towns and villages of Newfoundland where these songs have survived in their fullest form. In Devon, they’ve been shortened over time – but the tunes and the similarities reveal unmistakably that the songs share the same origins.
People in Devon will get the chance to hear for themselves in April, thanks to a collaboration of folk musicians from both sides of the Atlantic as part of The Devon Newfoundland Story, a series of events organised by The Devonshire Association.
Marilyn Tucker and Paul Wilson from Okehampton-based charity Wren Music first met Newfoundland folk singer Jim Payne over 30 years ago and they’ve worked together a number of times since. They’ll be travelling around the county with ‘Shore to Shore Revisited’, a concert, recital and lecture tour. The tour includes a 7pm concert at Palladium Bideford and a 1pm lecture recital at the town’s Burton Art Gallery & Museum, both on 11 April.
If you take a look at a map of the world you’ll notice there’s a horizontal line between Devon and Newfoundland. It was a line followed by Devon fishing folk as early as the 1500s, when communities would spend the summer season working in the rich fishing waters off Newfoundland.
When Devonian explorer Sir Humphrey Gilbert sailed from Plymouth to St John’s and annexed Newfoundland for Queen Elizabeth I in 1583, it became England’s first colony. The first permanent settlement was in 1610 and many more settlements grew up during the centuries that followed. The links are particularly strong in Devon’s ports and fishing towns such as Bideford, Barnstaple and Appledore on the north coast and Teignmouth, Dartmouth and Plymouth on the south.
It was during an event in 1983 to mark the 400th anniversary of Gilbert’s annexation that Jim first met Marilyn and Paul. Jim recalled: “It was only when I heard Paul sing a couple of Devon folk songs that were also part of my own Newfoundland repertoire, songs that I had learned from people within my own family, that I realised those folk music connections still had a contemporary relevance in that many of the songs brought to Newfoundland by early settlers from the West Country had survived intact in Newfoundland over several generations.
“In Newfoundland, there was so much material that came here with early settlers, but then there was locally composed material that emerged from out of what the early settlers had brought. Song lyrics changed to reflect the circumstances of life in the new world, even while melodies remained the same.”
One example is a song about logging, ‘The Double Sledder Lad’, which is a Newfoundland version of the Devonian song that Paul sings called ‘Jim, the Carter Lad’.
Although some of the words may have changed in Newfoundland, Paul says: “If you want to know what Devon songs sounded like and Devon tunes and fiddle-playing sounded like in the past, go to Newfoundland. I can think of 30 songs off the top of my head that went across to Newfoundland from Devon that are still alive now but I’d say there are easily over 100, possibly 200, that are common to both. The songs migrated over there and took root.”
For Marilyn and Paul, seeing how the songs were such an integral part of Newfoundland culture was hugely influential in Wren Music’s work in bringing Devonian songs to the fore again: “I was actually quite envious of the traditions in Newfoundland music and we learnt a lot from that. We’ve gone about things in a different way by establishing groups around the county, but the aim has been the same, to bring these songs forward so that they and their stories are heard in the communities where they came from.
“And thanks to this project by the Devonshire Association we’ll hopefully be reaching new audiences.”
Learning that versions of old South West songs are very much alive in Newfoundland has literally been a voyage of discovery for Paul: “I’ll play a song and Jim will say ‘I’ve got a version of that and it goes like this’ and vice versa.” At some of their past concerts together they’ve done a ‘mash-up’ of both Devon and Newfoundland versions. Paul explained: “Jim sings a song called ‘A Tale of Jests’, a song of exaggeration which we know and sing as ‘The Lying Tale’. We do a verse from Devon and then a verse from Newfoundland and we tell the story together. We go across the Atlantic and back again about five times in the song, it’s absolutely lovely and it works really well. But with most of the songs, we’ll sing one version and refer to the other.”
The concerts will feature songs that represent the larger collection: “There are love songs, nonsense songs, funny songs, and there are lots of ballads – big story songs of murder and other dark tales,” said Paul. “And there are some very significant sea songs; the sea is what links us and the sea will feature in these concerts and the talks.”
One of the songs from Newfoundland is ‘Come and I Will Sing You’. In Devon it is sung as the ‘Dilly Song’ and was passed down by a servant girl in Horrabridge: “The first line of the ‘Dilly Song’ is Come and I Will Sing You, so it’s the same song but it’s very different,” said Paul. “There’s also a classic ballad which in Newfoundland is called ‘She’s Like The Swallow’, but here it’s ‘On Yonder’s Hill’ and is associated with Bampton in Mid Devon.”
Among the songs Paul will be singing is ‘Captain Ward’, which is a pirate song from the era of Peter Easton, a pirate who operated off Newfoundland. “These are wonderful songs and we’re really looking forward to playing them,” said Paul. “They’re full of guitars, accordions and fiddles and the choruses have huge harmonies.”
Paul has a personal connection, too, as his grandfather moved to Newfoundland and was the first vicar of Great Falls – a town built up around the logging industry: “It’s one of the reasons why this project means so much to me. Newfoundland is very close to my heart. Their traditions are amazing.”
And, as Jim says, the roots of those traditions haven’t been lost through the passage of time: “Many Newfoundlanders still fly the Union Jack, the accents of Devon and Dorset can be clearly heard in many Newfoundland conversations, a large number of dialect words here come directly from the West Country. So the connections are still highly relevant today.” www.wrenmusic.co.uk
PERFORMANCES IN BIDEFORD:
Tuesday 11 April, 7pm PALLADIUM BIDEFORD
1 Lower Gunstone, Town Centre, Bideford, EX39 2DE
Booking through Wren Music:
Email email@example.com; 01837 53754; www.wrenmusic.co.uk
LECTURE RECITAL: Tuesday 11 April at 1pm BURTON ART GALLERY & MUSEUM, Bideford, EX39 2QQ
Free entry / donation
ILLUSTRATION at TOP: Bideford Newfoundlanders in a Fair Gale – copyright Mark Myers, 1977.
He was a humble postman whose poems, written whilst walking the rural lanes of North Devon on his daily round in the mid-nineteenth century, won plaudits from the Prime Minister and the support of the biggest literary names of the day. He was to become known nationally as the ‘Postman Poet’ and was referred to as ‘the Devonian Burns’.
Yet today, two years short of the 200th anniversary of Edward Capern’s birth, many of his fellow Devonians are unlikely to have heard of his remarkable story, let alone people from further afield.
But that could be about to change. Recognition might again come knocking for Capern (1819-1894), thanks to a collaboration between Bideford author Liz Shakespeare and folk musicians and songwriters Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll, also from Bideford – the town where Tiverton-born Capern resided for most of his life.
Liz has written The Postman Poet, a novel based on the life of Capern, and at the same time is publishing 34 of his 600 poems in The Poems of Edward Capern. During her research, Liz found that some of his poems were intended to be sung and Nick and Becki have spent the past 12 months choosing which ones to set to music for their CD, the Songs of Edward Capern.
The book and CD launch takes place with an evening of reading and songs at the Royal Hotel in Bideford on 25 March, two days before they officially go on sale.
Capern was from a poor family and as a boy only went to school for four months. He was entirely self-taught but he had a local benefactor, William Frederick Rock from Barnstaple, who saw his early poems in a local newspaper and was behind the publication of Capern’s first volume of poems. Its subscribers included Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens and the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. He was also admired by the Poet Laureate, Alfred Austen.
“It was a remarkable achievement for a working class man to become nationally known and I think he deserves a larger audience today,” said Liz. While writing the novel, she drew on historical research and details in the poems to tell the extraordinary story through Edward’s eyes as he struggles to support his family, a story that captures the opportunities and inequalities of Victorian North Devon.
Capern would jot down poems while he was walking on his round and he often wrote on the envelopes he was about to deliver: “He had to ask the recipients if he could keep the envelopes because he’d written on them,” said Liz, whose own cottage in Littleham just outside Bideford was on Capern’s round.
It was during his daily two-hour break on the Bideford to Buckland Brewer route that most of his poems were written. It seems that one day he was invited into a cottage to sit in the warmth of the kitchen while the ladies of the house went about their daily chores. It was an invitation he was to accept every day after that.
Quite by coincidence, while carrying out her research, Liz discovered that the cottage in Buckland Brewer is now owned by a good friend, local historian and genealogist Janet Few: “When you’re in the kitchen you can imagine Edward sitting there writing up a poem about the nature he’d seen and the people he’d met that morning,” said Liz.
When it came to Nick and Becki setting Capern’s work to music, they found that the poems had a particular rhythm to them: “You could tell he’d written them while walking,” said Nick, “because there is a walking feel to the rhythm of the lines.”
This “walking feel” was used when they composed the music, as Becki explained: “The feel informed the rhythm and we then created the melody to ‘fit’ what the words were saying. And the melody informed the choice of instruments.
“The songs are certainly folk-influenced because that’s our background and it’s probably the music Capern would sing. But it’s not traditional folk music. It’s a much more contemporary sound.”
Nick and Becki initially sifted through Capern’s collection of poems that he’d written for music in his volume, The Devonshire Melodist, only to discover his words had been disastrously misinterpreted by composer T Murby. His piano arrangements were clearly intended for the well-to-do and a review in the Illustrated London News decried Murby’s melodies as “artificial, laboured, hard to sing”.
As a result Nick and Becki have recorded just two of the songs as they were written – ‘Christmas Bells’ and ‘Come List, My Love’, and have set a third from the collection, ‘The Robin Is Weeping’, to their own music. Nine further Capern poems are set to their folk-influenced interpretation
“It’s pretty obvious that folk was his genre,” said Nick. ”We think he’d be happy with what we’ve done.”
Although he was careful not to upset the aristocracy who bought his work, Capern was keen to use his pen to champion the cause of the poor. One poem Nick and Becki have set to music is ‘The Dinner Bell’, a tale of the haves and have-nots where Capern laments the plight of families who could hear the sound of distant dinner bells but themselves had no food.
In recognition of Capern’s commitment to social justice, £1 from each copy of the poetry collection sold is being donated to the North Devon Food Bank.
Capern died in 1894, aged 75, and is buried in the churchyard at Heanton near Braunton, with his trusty postman’s handbell fixed in a niche in the headstone.
So how will twenty-first-century readers view Capern’s poems? Liz admits some are rather sentimental for today’s tastes but added: “The best of it is as fresh and honest now as it was then. The poems I’ve selected are those which are most reflective of his life and the locality. He loved his job, despite the weather and the long hours and it’s this love that really comes across in his work. His poems are written from the heart.”
The Postman Poet by Liz Shakespeare, RRP £9.99 (ISBN: 9780951687949); The Poems of Edward Capern, selected by Liz Shakespeare, RRP £7.99 (ISBN: 9780951687956); The Songs of Edward Capern by Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll, RRP £10.
The Rural Postman by Edward Capern (extract): O, the postman’s is as happy a life
As any one’s, I trow;
Wand’ring away where dragon-flies play,
And brooks sing soft and slow;
And watching the lark as he soars on high,
To carol in yonder cloud,
“He sings in his labour, and why not I?”
The postman sings aloud.
And many a brace of humble rhymes
His pleasant soul hath made,
Of birds, and flowers, and happy times,
In sunshine and in shade.
PHOTO AT TOP: Becki, Liz and Nick in the kitchen at Buckland Brewer.
If you have not been to Wiveliscombe to see their memorial mosaic, Children of the Great War, then it is well worth a visit. Wiveliscombe celebrated the unveiling of the Memorial Mosaic in Jubilee Gardens in September, in an event which marked the culmination of a two-year Heritage Lottery Fund project led by the Wiveliscombe Civic Society.
In 2014 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £10,000 to the project, which worked with children of the town to discover the memories and heritage of the local people whose families lived through the First World War. The children researched the war’s history, visited the Somerset Heritage Centre and St Andrew’s churchyard and have also spoken to residents of the local care home, Pulsford Lodge, to inspire their work on the mosaic memorial.
Local artists Jo Dove and Sara Fairfax worked with the children of the town to produce a piece that, when the green veil fell back, drew gasps of admiration from a big crowd. It is hoped the mosaic will be the focus of commemorative events for years to come.
The piece is a post, over seven feet tall, and has eight main panels made up of 96 tiles, illustrating the story of the Home Front in the Great War, including images of mules, railways, landscape, farms, fields and houses, as well as children and adults at work to support the war effort.
Forty children worked with the artists on the design and making of the tiles, learning to use the difficult techniques to create strong, contrasting images. Impressions were also created by flowers, grasses and leaves, as well as imprints of items found at Ypres in Belgium, pressed into the clay. Children were also asked to write a haiku, some of which are included on the additional, surrounding tiles.
Helping wounded tommies,
By cutting cloth
Nerys Watts, the Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the South West, was assisted in the formal unveiling by Evelyn Cherry, former pupil of Wiveliscombe Primary School. Evelyn read her prize-winning poem ‘The Poppy Field’:
The Poppy Field
By Evelyn Cherry
In the field where the poppies sprout, Blood trickles into the cracks in the dusty soil Where decrepit bodies smoulder deep beneath the ground.
The wind mourns the deaths of courageous men, Who fought to save the lives of others. Only the leaves rustle in this melancholy and lonely place.
The sounds of gun shots cut through the air, Feet thundering to the safety of the trench, The squelch of mud under their feet, 100 years ago.
Now the poppies grow and grow. They dance in the wind, Their petals carried away on the gentle breeze.
Their colour red, Their stalks green, Creating a sea of blood
The poem, and other winning entries, are included in a book that accompanies the project, along with a set of commemorative postcards, and since the launch Evelyn has been asked to read at the Royal British Legion Remembrance Sunday service, and was also heard reading it on BBC local Radio.
A planning application has been submitted to North Devon Council for an extension at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.
The museum was awarded £69,000 by the Heritage Lottery to develop plans for a £1.8m extension on the Long Bridge side of the existing museum building. Bristol-based architects, Ferguson Mann, have drawn up the designs, which are now on display in the museum.
The extension will provide a brighter and bigger entrance to welcome visitors to the museum, as well as 75% more display space, including a new twentieth-century gallery. With a new education room, improvements to the shop and tea room and increased storage space, it will help the museum be more sustainable going into the future.
The design is contemporary, rather than a reproduction of the previous Victorian building it is replacing. English Heritage requests that additions to listed buildings should be “of their own time” rather than imitations of the original architecture.
The current museum was provided to the town by William Frederick Rock in 1888 as the home of the North Devon Athenaeum, whose collections it still holds. Originally there was another building between it and the Long Bridge, but this was demolished in 1963 when the bridge was widened. The extension will be built on the site of the old building and as this side of the main museum building was never intended to be seen, it is the only practical option for the extension.
Red brick and slate have been chosen as the main building materials, in keeping with the existing museum building. Terracotta details, reflecting the work of Brannams and copper (which was used extensively by Shapland and Petter in their furniture) will be blended to create interest and soften the impact of the red brick. Incorporating lots of glass in the design has not been possible, as light can damage museum collections. However, as many windows as possible have been added to areas that will have a low impact on the collections, such as the education room.
A copy of the plans and a scale model of the extension are on display in the museum tea room. The public is encouraged to visit the museum and talk to staff about the proposals and make their views known in the comments box as part of the display.
Executive Member for leisure and culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “We are really excited to reach this stage of the project. We know not everyone’s going to like the design – it has quite a striking and contemporary look, which at first glance people might not understand. To get a true sense of the scale of the new extension and the reason behind its design, it’s important to have a good look and read through the proposals before making a judgement. We can’t replicate what we already have, but we must be sympathetic to the existing building and that is what the architects are trying to achieve. Alison Mills, our museum manager, is doing a magnificent job on our behalf to make this project happen. Come down to the museum and speak to Alison or any of her staff and volunteers to find out more.”
Copies of all the drawings and plans are also online at www.northdevon.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control, under planning application number 62191. You can comment online or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or send your comments in writing to North Devon Council Planning team at Lynton House, Commercial Road, Barnstaple, EX31 1DG quoting the planning application number.
Unspoilt moorland; dramatic coastline; Exmoor ponies; romantic Lorna Doone association; ancient woodland and archaeological treasures: Exmoor offers such a variety of scenery, attractions and experiences to meet most people’s interests. It’s not surprising that within the Exmoor Society’s archive is found a wealth of material: letters; slides; pamphlets; correspondence – all show why Exmoor is so special and together they contain valuable evidence of the ongoing changes in Exmoor’s landscape. The archive demonstrates the complex interrelationship between people and the environment within this long-established, traditional rural community.
Dr Helen Blackman, a professional outreach archivist was employed by the Society to undertake a project “Unlocking Exmoor’s Heritage” from 2014-16. Since then she has catalogued and conserved key documents and papers relating to people such as Victor Bonham-Carter and Malcolm MacEwen who influenced the National Park movement from the 1950s through to the 1980s. She has put on notable events such as the Exmoor Language Garden as well as giving many talks to local groups and writing pamphlets and education guides for teachers and students of different ages. Extensive use has been made of volunteers to undertake much of the cataloguing and so engage many people with different skills and experiences. Further information on the project and the archive can be found on the Society’s website.
Chairman Rachel Thomas said that as a result of all this activity the Society is thrilled to announce that it has started a new 2-year venture, delving further into the archive, by employing Dr Blackman to lead several new projects. These will include acting as a hub for local history and archive groups; launching Exmoor Studies, a series of shorter books inspired by the Exmoor Review the annual journal of the Society first published in 1959; a conference on Exmoor as an English outback and a book-length history of the National Park. Finally a new project just launched called Then & Now has attracted much interest.
Dr Blackman said “Of all the things I’ve done since becoming the Exmoor Society’s archivist, wading in the River Barle to try to find out exactly where a photograph had been taken some 40 years ago was probably one of the oddest. Archive training does not usually involve risk assessment in water – in fact archives and water do not mix well. But there I was, slipping around in a pair of borrowed wellies, peering intently at a bridge parapet to try to work out if I’d got the angle right (I hadn’t).”
“The principle is simple”, Dr Blackman explained – “go to the same spot an old photo was taken and retake it. In practice, it can be quite tricky. The photographs are usually labelled, but sometimes for example the label just says “A boggy place on Dry Hill” and this isn’t terribly easy to locate especially since the scene may have changed substantially over the decades. Thus you find something you think is the same spot but it looks different, and you can’t tell whether that difference is because you’re in fact standing somewhere else, or in the same place that has changed. The past, as they say, is another country.”
The Society has found that attempting to rediscover the same place hones your observation skills and enables a deeper understanding of landscape quality. There are over 1500 slides depicting locations across the moor so the task is enormous and the Society is seeking people to help retake them. The Then & Now photographs will enable the Exmoor Society to influence future landscape change by providing evidence of how the moor has evolved.
The Society’s Resource Centre is open to the public 10-4 Monday to Friday. To use the archives please make an appointment. And if you fancy doing some detective work and seeing how Exmoor has changed, please contact the archivist on email@example.com or 01398 323335 for details of the project.
A selection of local film archive featuring footage shot in Simonsbath, Exford, Winsford and Withypool and dating back as far as the 1890s will be screened at St Luke’s Church, Simonsbath, on Saturday 29 October at 7.30pm.
The fascinating and highly entertaining selection of film comes from the South West Film and Television Archive (SWFTA) and covers a wide range of footage from local Exmoor villages and the surrounding area.
From an advertisement for Daz shot locally in the 1960s to the highly acclaimed 1970s documentary entitled The Staghunters, the selection of film reflects the variety of life on Exmoor over the past century and more. It includes footage of haymaking and harvesting in the 1930s, Clive Gunnell’s captivating interview in 1965 with William Watt, who lived in the highest inhabited dwelling on Exmoor, as well as coverage of the Lynton flood disaster in 1952 and Barnstaple Fair in 1965.
The oldest footage to be screened – which is the oldest in SWFTA’s collection – was shot on a hand-cranked camera in 1898 and shows a steam train on the Barnstaple to Ilfracombe line.
The full programme runs to 90 minutes. Tickets cost £5, with free admission for under 14s, and may be booked in advance by contacting Marian Lloyd on 01643 831451 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Refreshments including wine will be available and a locally-baked Cornish pasty, costing £4, may be booked in advance for the interval. Tickets costing £6 may also be available on the door. Proceeds from the evening will go towards Simonsbath Festival.
A message to readers: I apologise that this is a late notice story but Turtle the Editor’s Cat is very poorly so the week has gone a bit wobbly. Hopefully some readers will still see this in time. Best wishes, Naomi
PHOTO: The Barle at Simonsbath Meadow by the late Brian Pearce, by kind permission of Elaine Pearce.
The iconic installation commemorating soldiers who fell on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, which captivated millions when it was displayed in Exeter, is to be shown again.
After hundreds of requests to extend the exhibition, organisers are bringing the breathtaking display to the grounds of Bristol Cathedral where it will be on show from 11 to the 18 November this year, marking the Centenary of one of the bloodiest battles in history and remembering all 127,751 British soldiers who lost their lives.
The display was created by West Somerset Artist Rob Heard, who wrapped and bound each figure in a hand-stitched shroud, crossing the name of every soldier who fell on that fateful first day off a list sourced from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
“The Shrouds, along with the Poppies at the Tower, are perhaps the most memorable WWI commemorations this country has ever seen,” said Mel Bradley MBE, Project Manager. “The public response to the shrouds from around the world has far exceeded all expectations.
“We have a visitors book from Exeter with hundreds and hundreds of personal and emotional remarks from people trying to express the impact the Shrouds has had on them.
“This is reflected on our Facebook page with thousands of comments and video clip views of more than 10 million. It had a huge impact on the City of Exeter and has the potential to be even bigger in Bristol. The personal and community impact cannot be underestimated.”
Commodore Jake Moores OBE, Chairman of the Shrouds of the Somme, added: “The exhibition was one of the most powerful Acts of Remembrance I have seen throughout my military career and subsequent time as President of the Royal British Legion for Devon.”
“The raw emotion it produced in countless numbers of people, many of whom were in tears, some kneeling and praying and others stood rigidly to attention, was extremely moving. Without doubt this exhibition touches the hearts of all those who are privileged to witness it.”
Donations from the exhibition, which will be opened on Armistice Day, will be donated to Forces charity SSAFA, specifically to their Bristol branch supporting servicemen, veterans and their families in the Bristol area in times of need.
Shrouds of the Somme has been shortlisted for a Remember WW1 award, results to be announced on 2 November.
The Shrouds of the Somme Project ran in Exeter from 1 July 2016 for one week. 65,000 people visited the exhibition. £38,000 was raised for charity.
The Bristol Exhibition will be open from 11 November 2016. There will be a closing ceremony, led by the Lord Lieutenant of Bristol, at 6pm on Friday 18 November marking the end of the Battle of the Somme.
PHOTO: Rob Heard, by kind permission of Bowater Communications
A new exhibition opens today, Saturday 1 October, showcasing a collection of previously unseen watercolours by Clara Peters of Arlington Court.
Clara (Chrissie) Peters joined Miss Rosalie Chichester of Arlington Court as a paid companion from 1912 to her death in 1939. Her botanical paintings are part of the North Devon Athenaeum collection on long-term loan to the museum and this could be the first time many of them have been on public display.
Executive Member responsible for leisure and culture, Councillor Brian Moores, said: “Clara Peters’ delicate watercolours feature some of the plants and flowers in bloom at Arlington Court and around the local area in the early part of the last century. There are over 166 watercolours in the North Devon Athanaeum, with a selection of the best chosen for display in this latest exhibition at the museum – a treat for both art and nature lovers.”
The musuem is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm, admission is free. The exhibition runs from 1 October to 5 November. Keep up to date with news and events at the museum on Facebook or Twitter.
Pictured: Field poppy, Clara Peters (1914) and Tree mallow, Clara Peters (1915).