Category Archives: Object of the Month

Object of the Month – November 2017


November’s Object of the Month is this tiny razor, called the Laurel Ladies Boudoir Safety Razor. It was made in Sheffield between 1935 and 1940 by a company called G H Lawrence Ltd. The razor was donated to the museum last month and belonged to the donor’s mother. It is only 4cm in length and the blade is just 2cm wide.

Inside the tin, there is a label which reads:
The “LAUREL” LADIES BOUDOIR SAFETY RAZOR has been designed with a view to making it THE SAFEST OF ALL SAFETY RAZORS.

The Slotted Guard is of Bakelite material properly shaped to secure the correct shaving angle, and also protects the corners of the Blade. It has no comb serrations or teeth to irritate the skin. The Registered LAUREL LADIES BOUDOIR BLADES are an integral part of the Razor.

Can be obtained everywhere in


Female beauty in the twentieth century

The early twentieth century saw a new emphasis on personal grooming and beauty products for women. It has been suggested that this was a result of the shortage of marriageable men following World War I – women felt they needed to look good to secure a husband. But it was also partly a result of the new fashions. In contrast to Victorian and Edwardian women who had covered up with long sleeves and full skirts, women were now showing more skin.

One of the companies that benefitted from this change was Gillette, who produced the first razor for women in 1916, called the Milady Décolleté. By the 1920s, tiny boxed razors were to be found in almost every bathroom cabinet, along with hair-removal creams and powders.

Magazines in the 1920s were full of adverts for products claiming to make skin beautiful, such as creams, treatments and razors. These adverts can tell us a lot about how women were perceived at the time. In 1922 an advert in the magazine Harper’s Bazaar focused on body hair as an embarrassment, encouraging women to “have immaculate underarms if she is not to be embarrassed”.  In 1924 an advert for Veet hair removal cream stated that “nothing is so repellent and disillusioning as hair growth on the arms of a woman”.

During the 1920s, most women covered their legs with stockings and by the 1930s, hemlines had dropped back down to the ankle or floor, so shaving and hair removal was focused on the underarms. However, during World War II, the shortage of nylon meant many women were forced to go bare-legged and as a result, more and more hair removal products were sold and shaving your legs became an expected norm.

Throughout the remainder of the twentieth century, companies continued to market hair removal products at women, appealing to their desire to be feminine or attempting to make them feel ashamed of their body hair. By the 1970s, shaving had become widely accepted so companies focused on a closer or faster shave. In the 1980s, advertisers returned to the theme of women making themselves attractive to men, as seen in this advertisement, showing a man’s shadow across a woman and the phrase “If you want to get someone’s attention, just Whistle”.

Today, there is more conversation about the personal choice not to remove body hair, but adverts still aim to convince women that hair removal is an important way to look and feel glamorous and to be sexually appealing.

You can see the razor on display in the museum until 30 November 2017. 

Object of the Month – October 2017

October’s Object of the Month is a mechanical calculator made by Muldivo, which probably dates from the 1930s or 1940s. It was chosen by Vicky Geddes, Digital Engagement Intern. The calculator was donated to the museum in 1982. 

Mechanical calculators

Mechanical calculators used a series of gears and pinwheels to calculate sums, and were popular through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, until the electronic calculator became more affordable.

The first designs for mechanical calculators, also known as pinwheel calculators, came from Germany in the 1600s. The first person to build a pinwheel calculator was Giovanni Poleni in 1709, but on hearing that German Antonius Braun had designed his own calculator and dedicated it to Emperor Charles VI in Vienna (which he would later build and present to the Emperor in 1727), Poleni destroyed his.

For three centuries various people across Europe and America designed and built pinwheel calculators. The first one to be mass produced was Odhner’s Arithometer in 1890, which became the most popular design in Europe. The design that the Muldivo follows first emerged in 1850, and remained popular until the 1970s.

Many companies were set up across Europe to produce clones of Odhner’s machine, resulting in its huge popularity. Even those companies not simply cloning Odhner often used aspects of his design as inspiration, including Muldivo, and as a result many of the mechanical calculators produced in the twentieth century look remarkably similar to one another.

How pinwheel calculators work

Pinwheel calculators have metal wheels (pinwheels), which are assembled into a cylinder called a rotor. The pinwheels have nine pins sticking out of them. The number of pins sticking out from the pinwheel can be changed by moving a setting lever and this selects the number you want to add/subtract/multiply/divide.

A closer view of the Muldivo calculator. Visible here are the setting levers, which choose the numbers which will be used.

To do a calculation, the user chooses the numbers they want using the setting levers. Turning the handle at the side of the calculator clockwise adds the number selected to the accumulator (the row of numbers at the bottom of the calculator) and turning the handle counter-clockwise subtracts the number. Multiplications and divisions can also be done on the calculator, through a series of repeated additions or subtractions.

A more detailed explanation of a pinwheel calculator can be found here (video)


Muldivo was founded in London in 1912. The company grew and expanded in the first half of the twentieth century, moving to various locations around London. Muldivo bought various companies that produced mechanical calculators, and acted mostly as the British distributor for their products.

However the company did produce a few mechanical calculator models of its own. The first Muldivo brand calculator was produced in France, and introduced in 1924. All subsequent models were produced in Germany, and they usually followed a similar design to a product made by one of the other companies Muldivo owned. 

In 1939, Muldivo bought Guy’s Calculating Machines – another British manufacturer of pinwheel calculators. In 1965, Guy’s moved to Witham in Essex, giving Muldivo a stronger footing in the county.

The company continued to grow in success and size through the twentieth century up until the 1960s. By the 1970s, the popularity of electronic calculators had pushed Muldivo out of business, and the company closed its doors in 1971.

You can see the Muldivo calculator on display in the museum until 31 October.

Object of the Month – September 2017

To celebrate the kids going back to school, September’s Object of the Month is a photograph showing the staff and pupils of the Boys’ British School in Saffron Walden in 1954. The photograph is a recent acquisition to the museum’s local history collection and it was donated in August 2017. The donor of the photograph attended the Boys’ British School and he is sat on the front row, seventh from the right.

The photograph was chosen as Object of the Month by Leah Mellors, Collections Officer (Human History), in the hope that we may be able to identify some of the pupils.

Boys’ British School

The Boys’ British School was opened in 1838. It was situated on East Street in Saffron Walden. A girls’ school was also opened at the same time on South Road.

The creation of the Boys’ British School was decided on at a meeting in Saffron Walden Town Hall on 26 July 1838. Those present at the meeting decided that the town needed better education facilities, especially for the poorer classes.

They decided that the school should follow the model of the British and Foreign School Society. The school would be open to children of all religious denominations, from the ages of seven to 14. Parents would pay 2d per week for each boy.

The Gibson family provided the building on East Street for the school, rent-free, and William Jenkines was appointed the first headmaster.

Timeline of the Boys’ British School

1838               The school is established. It averages around 100 students per year for the first three years.

1844               The school reaches a peak of almost 200 students. However, an Anglican school is built on Castle Street and numbers reduce by 40% in just three years.

1847               The school formally affiliates with the British and Foreign School Society, so that it can receive government grants. Jenkines, the Headmaster, opposes this affiliation and resigns. He is replaced by Edwin Chennell.

1857               Chennell is succeeded by Samuel Willett, who is headmaster for 22 years.

1869               The school is inspected by Matthew Arnold, who says “the school is full…and the discipline is excellent. Nearly the whole average attendance are presented for examination…the papers are worked in fair style”.

1876               The number of pupils reaches 230 and the inspector’s report for that year remarks that “discipline suffers through crowded rooms”. Numbers drop off and in 1878, the inspector reports that “the school is in excellent order”.

1896               The school premises are enlarged to cope with high numbers.

1914               Following the outbreak of World War I, the school premises are used to accommodate over 100 soldiers. Teaching is moved to the Abbey Lane Congregational Chapel.

1918               At the end of World War I, 75 previous students of the school have lost their lives. They are commemorated on a roll of honour (now held in the museum’s collection, pictured right).

1920s             The school flourishes under Headmaster Charles Heaven. Don Purkiss, a former student, describes Mr Heaven as putting “the fear of God…into most of us”.

1939-1945     World War II causes an increase in the number of pupils, as evacuees and boys from the nearby RAF Debden station enrol. Teacher Miss Foster describes the school as “bursting at the seams”.

1945               The school becomes a Controlled School, under the management of the county council.

1950               Saffron Walden County High School opens and the senior boys move from the Boys’ British School to the new school.

1982               The Boys’ British School joins with the South Road School. After 127 years, the Boys’ British School closes and the premises are vacated.

The British and Foreign School Society

The British and Foreign School Society was established in 1808, to carry on the work of Joseph Lancaster. Lancaster was a Quaker who reformed school and educational systems and promoted education for the poorer classes. He introduced a non-sectarian approach to teaching, meaning that teachers could not teach particular denominational beliefs. He also introduced the use of rewards as well as punishments and a system of monitors where older students taught younger students.

Joseph Lancaster’s system of education was based around two principles:

Order, discipline and progress

All children worked at the same time. Older boys were used as monitors, who ruled the books, ensured good behaviour and reported on attendance and progress.

The boys in the first class sat nearest to the teacher. They sat at a flat table that had a sand tray in which they could draw letters.  Once they had mastered the sand trays, they progressed to slates.

Reading stations were established around the walls. Students stood at these stations in order of merit and were taught by the monitors at reading boards, which were attached to the walls.

Students progressed from class to class once their lessons had been learned.


Children were rewarded for good work with leather or paper merit tickets Leather merit tickets were hung on coats by a small piece of ribbon. Paper tickets were swapped for prizes.  Three ‘Number 1’ tickets earned a halfpenny prize and 12 ‘Number 5’ tickets earned a sixpenny prize. The prizes (bats, balls, tops, kites etc.) were hung in a net above the schoolroom.

You can see the photograph on display in the museum until 30 September. If you were a pupil or teacher at the Boys’ British School, get in touch and tell us your memories!

Object of the Month – August 2017

August’s Object of the Month is a puppet of the character Punch, from Punch and Judy. It was chosen as our Object of the Month by Leah Mellors, Collections Officer (Human History).

The puppet was made by Joyce Sturge, a local artist from Saffron Walden, some time before the end of World War II. Joyce made the entire cast of puppets from the Punch and Judy puppet shows out of papier mache, as well as making her own puppet booth and performing the puppet show at children’s parties. She even made tiny sausages!

Punch and Judy shows varied slightly each time they were performed, but most followed a similar storyline: Punch argues with his wife Judy and mishandles the baby; a policeman comes for Punch, who beats the Policeman with a stick; and Punch faces a final enemy, often a hangman, devil, crocodile or ghost (although when the show was performed for troops during the Second World War, the enemy became Hitler). Punch and Judy shows are known for their fast pace, and for featuring lots of jokes, songs, audience interaction and slapstick comedy.

A Victorian illustration of things to do at the seaside. A Punch and Judy booth can be seen in the centre

Punch and Judy shows have been performed since the 1600s – Punch first appeared in Covent Garden, London, in 1662 – but didn’t become the show we recognise today until the Victorian era. Punch and Judy shows were not originally aimed at children because the shows featured marital problems between Punch and Judy, and regular violent behaviour from Punch. However they gradually became a part of Victorian family entertainment. As seaside holidays became more popular later in the Victorian period, Punch and Judy  too became a familiar part of a trip to the seaside.

Since the twentieth century, Punch and Judy has been gradually declining in popularity; the rise of music halls, theatres and cinema in the twentieth century contributed to its decline. An awareness of the seriousness of domestic violence damaged the show’s popularity in modern times for a time. However, the shows continue to be found at the seaside and for many remain a classic aspect of a trip to the coast: in 2006, the public voted Punch and Judy onto a list of icons in England.

Below is a gallery of all the puppets created by Joyce Sturge:

You can see the Punch puppet on display in the museum until 31 August 2017. 

Object of the Month – July 2017

 Handaxe from Warren Hill, near Mildenhall, Suffolk

July’s Object of the Month is a flint handaxe made and used by an unknown ancient human around half a million years ago. It will be featured in our next special exhibition, Life in the Ice Age which opens on 12 August 2017.

Over many thousands of years, the handaxe has been rolled and blunted by rivers and glaciers, and stained by minerals, but it still shows signs of deliberate shaping to form an edged tool.

The reverse side of the Handaxe

‘Handaxe’ is the name we use to describe these early multi-purpose hand-held tools for cutting, chopping and grinding. Experiments have shown that they were efficient tools for butchering large animals, and for chopping and pounding other foods such as edible roots. The people who made and used them were ‘hunter-gatherers’, who hunted herds of wild animals, and gathered natural foods such as nuts, berries and edible plants.

A Short History of Handaxes

The earliest humans to make simple stone chopping tools lived in Africa about 2 million years ago. When a new species of early human, Homo erectus, developed about 1.8 million years ago, they used more carefully shaped cutting tools, which we call handaxes.

By 1.5 million years ago, humans had spread out of Africa into southern Europe and continued to make handaxes wherever there was flint or other suitable stone. As humans evolved and learned to cope with different environments, so handaxes evolved: there are many variations of size and shape. It continued to be the main tool of many human cultures up to around 50,000 years ago, when modern humans appeared, and stopped making and using handaxes.

Joseph Clarke’s collection

Joseph Clarke

Our handaxe is marked to show that it came from the collection of Joseph Clarke (1802 – 1895), who was a local antiquarian. Joseph and his brother Joshua were active members of the Saffron Walden Natural History Society (later Saffron Walden Museum Society) and as trustees they played an important role in the Museum. Joseph was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and his network of contacts enabled him to collect objects from beyond the local area.



The site at Warren Hill

Warren Hill became famous in the nineteenth century for the large number of ancient handaxes and flake tools found there, many of which, like this handaxe, eventually found their way into museum collections. The age of the Warren Hill deposits and the flint tools in them has been debated for over a century. Investigations in the 1990s suggested that the gravels were part of a now extinct river system, called the Bytham River, which flowed from the Midlands across East Anglia and out into the North Sea. Later the Anglian Glaciation destroyed the Bytham River and created our present-day landscape. So the flint tools from the Warren Hill gravels must date from before the Anglian Glaciation, about 500,000 years ago. Evidence of human activity before the Anglian Glaciation is very rare because the ice sheets destroyed most of it._

Map showing the site of Warren Hill


You can see this Handaxe on display in the museum until Sunday 30th July, and in our upcoming exhibition ‘Life in the Ice Age’, which opens on the 12th August.

Object of the Month – June 2017

June’s Object of the Month is a print of an engraving of Easton Lodge, in Little Easton, near Dunmow. It was chosen as Object of the Month by Leah Mellors, Collections Officer (Human History).

The print was published in 1832 by George Virtue, a London publisher. It is a print of an engraving of Easton Lodge that was completed by Henry Adlard, after an image drawn by W Bartlett.

Easton Lodge

Easton Lodge was a privately-owned mansion in Little Easton, near the town of Dunmow.  The gardens, grounds and estate of Easton Lodge date back to Tudor times and in 1590, they were granted to Henry Maynard who built a house in 1597.

Easton Lodge rebuilt in the Victorian Gothic style

From the early 1600s until the 1800s, the grounds around Easton Lodge were developed: a small wood was added, along with a dovecote and a temple.  In the 1800s, major changes were made to the house and gardens, mainly due to a large and disastrous fire in 1847, which destroyed almost all of the main Elizabethan part of the house. The house was rebuilt in brick and stucco in the Victorian Gothic style, to a design by Thomas Hopper. The print shows the Elizabethan house before it was destroyed.

Frances ‘Daisy’ Maynard

In 1865, the Easton Lodge estate was inherited by Frances ‘Daisy’ Maynard, who was only three years old. Daisy grew up to be a noted beauty and turned down several marriage offers, including Prince Leopold, the youngest son of Queen Victoria. She chose instead to marry Lord Brooke. Brooke would later become the Earl of Warwick and Daisy the Countess of Warwick.  After their wedding the couple preferred living at Easton Lodge, rather than their home in London, and the architect William Young was employed to make changes to the house.  The west wing was reconstructed and a new façade was added.

In 1918, there was another major fire at Easton Lodge, believed to have been caused by one of Daisy’s pet monkeys. The west wing, kitchen and servants’ quarters were all gutted by the fire. Daisy employed the architect Philip Tilden to plan the rebuilding. The west wing was rebuilt as a separate building but the remainder of Tilden’s plans were never realised. In 1919, Daisy had to sell off most of her estates as a result of her poor finances.

The Gardens of Easton Lodge

By the end of the 1800s, Daisy had created many formal gardens in the grounds of Easton Lodge, including large walled kitchen gardens, which produced exotic flowers and fruit and vegetables.

The Italian garden and pergolas

In 1902, Daisy commissioned Harold Peto, a popular architect and landscape gardener, to create further gardens for her. These gardens were designed in the Italian, French and Japanese styles and featured classical and oriental artefacts that Peto had collected on his travels throughout the world. The commission included a sunken Italian garden, with a 100-foot long oval-shaped pool filled with water lilies; a croquet lawn bordered by arched pergolas covered with blossoming climbers; and an oriental garden, which featured an elaborate thatched tea house on the edge of the lake.

Daisy died in 1938 and her son inherited the estate. During World War II, the main house stood derelict and although the lawns and kitchen gardens were tended by two gardeners, the formal areas were completely abandoned. The tea house rotted away, the lakes were overgrown and the surrounding woodland returned back to wild. In 1950, the main house was demolished and the gardeners left.   

In 1971, the west wing of Easton Lodge was bought by Brian and Diana Creasey. They were greeted by a mass of brambles and nettles and a concrete jungle. The explorations of their children revealed the almost hidden sunken Italian garden. They started work on restoring the old gardens and creating new ones and they began to open the gardens to visitors. From 1993 onwards, the restoration of the grounds got underway with the help of volunteers and that work continues today.

The gardens today

Volunteers recruited by the Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust look after and restore the gardens, opening them up to visitors on open days that take place once a month. The Italian garden has been replanted in the style of Harold Peto and extensive work is currently being done on the walled kitchen garden.  

You can find out more about Easton Lodge,  the restoration work and garden open days at The next open days are on 25 June and 23 July. You can see the print on display in the museum until 30 June 2017. 

Object of the Month – May 2017

May’s Object of the Month is a pottery bowl made by an unknown potter of the Hopi people of North America in the early twentieth century. It was chosen as Object of the Month by Carolyn Wingfield, Curator. Although we have no records of where the pot came from or who gave it to the museum, its distinctive style links it to a fascinating story about the village of Sikyatki and the modern revival of traditional Hopi pottery.

The surface of the pot has been polished to make it smooth and shiny, and the decoration has been painted using mineral pigments. The design of black bands with paw-like feet encircling the pot is typical of Hopi patterns which draw on animals, birds and nature.

Ancient Hopi pottery and Sikyatki village
The Hopi tribe are a Native America Nation living in what is today north-eastern Arizona, USA. Their name Hopitu means ‘The Peaceful People’. When the Spanish first came to the Americas in the 1500s, they referred to the Hopi and other cultures in the region as Pueblo people because they lived in villages (pueblos in the Spanish language).

Sikyatki bowl, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

One of these villages, Sikyatki – meaning ‘Yellow House’ – gave its name to a distinctive style of pottery produced by the Hopi from the 1300s to the 1600s. They made bowls, ladles and jars in yellow-orange clay, painted with black, red and white mineral pigments. Designs were based on animals and birds, such as heads, beaks, wings and feathers, and other patterns derived from the natural world.

Sikyatki itself was probably abandoned between 1500 and 1600, before Spanish colonisers reached the area. According to Hopi tradition Sikyatki was burned by people from the neighbouring village of Walpi in a feud.

Nampeyo and ‘Sikyatki Revival Style’
The revival of traditional Hopi pottery was started by the work of the Native American potter Nampeyo. She was a Hopi-Tewa woman, born in the village of Hano in 1859. Much of her early life was spent in the village of Walpi with her grandmother, who taught her the art of pot-making.

Nampeyo quickly became known for her skill in designing, shaping and decorating pots. By the 1890s Nampeyo was incorporating traditional Hopi designs into her pottery. She drew her inspiration from sherds of ancient Sikyatki pottery which she and her husband Lesso collected. Further stimulation came from pots found at Sikyatki in 1895 by Jesse Walter Fewkes, on an excavation funded by the Smithsonian institution.

Nampeyo with examples of her work, 1900

Nampeyo continued to experiment with clays and designs, and began to teach other women, as well as members of her own family. The designs she created both revised and preserved the symbols of Hopi culture. This extended beyond the pots themselves to the rituals and ceremonies involved in making pottery, and prayers to Mother Clay. The demand for Sikyatki Revival Style pottery among collectors and tourists was also important in ensuring the Hopi’s economic survival.

The term ‘Sikyatki Revival Style’ was coined to describe the pottery produced by Nampeyo and other potters, such as Maria Martinez. Nampeyo died in 1942 but potters continued working in the Sikyatki Revival Style through the twentieth century. Despite influences from the outside world, the Hopi have retained their own culture, language and religion to this day.

The Hopi bowl can be seen on display in the museum until 31 May 2017.

Object of the Month – April 2017

April’s Object of the Month is a male Mallard or Wild Duck. It was chosen by Sarah Kenyon, Natural Sciences Officer, to coincide with our Easter holidays trail (can you find all nine cuddly ducks in the museum?!) 

A male Mallard is called a drake.  This mounted bird is contained in a Perspex case on a wooden base.  It is from a collection of objects that can be loaned to schools for use in the classroom.

Mallards are found all over Britain.  They are the ancestor of the domestic duck.  They live in towns and the countryside in wetland areas or near freshwater ponds, lakes, canals and rivers.  These dabbling ducks eat plants, insects and shellfish.  They feed in shallow water on submerged vegetation and small aquatic animals and graze on plants, seeds and berries in farmland.

The female has pale brown, speckled feathers.  She is called a duck or hen.  Ducks lay and incubate 7 to 16 eggs. They look after all the ducklings.  Females make the more familiar loud quacking calls. The feathers of the drake are metallic green on the head, white around the neck, brown on the breast, grey and black on the rest of the body. The male makes a range of whistles or nasal calls.

A Museum Mystery

The female duck has an orange bill and the male bird has a dull yellow bill. Curiously, the bill of this male bird is a dull red colour.

This duck is a skin which was preserved, stuffed and mounted in a life-like pose by a taxidermist during the 1800s.  The bird was labelled as a female mallard originally.  So the bill may have been coloured orange when it became a museum specimen.  It was later re-identified as a male mallard.

You can see the Mallard on display in the museum until 30 April 2017. If you would like more information about loaning the Mallard or any of our other School Loans boxes, click here or contact the museum

Object of the Month – March 2017

arch’s Object of the Month is a pair of leather and wooden clogs, worn by a nun in the Carmelite convent in Saffron Walden. They were donated to the museum in 2006. The clogs were chosen as Object of the Month by Leah Mellors, Collections Officer (Human History).

Convent in Saffron Walden

A convent was located on Ashdon Road in Saffron Walden, on the north side of the Common, from July 1928 until 1974, when it was knocked down. The convent housed nuns of the Carmelite order. The site of the convent is now partly taken up with a housing development.

The Carmelites were an enclosed order, meaning that the nuns remained in the convent for the majority of the time and were rarely seen. There were two ‘novice’ nuns who would communicate with the outside world for the necessities of everyday life.

Although many local people may remember the convent, there appears to be only two surviving written accounts of it: a report by Mr Ernest Jennings, a surveyor from Saffron Walden, written in 1939; and an anonymous account of a visit to the convent in 1942.

In 1939, Mr Jennings wrote that the convent was occupied by 14 nuns, 12 of which were enclosed and two of which were on probation. The largest number that would have been permitted to the convent was 20. The convent was built of red brick and enclosed by a brick wall. It stood in about four acres of grounds, which originally belonged to Lord Braybrooke of Audley End. The accommodation consisted of three floors: the ground floor where most of the work was done; the first floor where there were 11 cells for sleeping, an office and a Chapel; and the third floor where there were an additional 10 cells, a cloakroom and a toilet. There were no fireplaces in any part of the building. Outside there was a small tool shed, a greenhouse and a laundry.

An anonymous account written in 1942 reports on a visit to the convent, during which the writer was shown around by the Mother Superior and a few other nuns. They reported that the convent consisted of cloisters around a central quadrangle, which were filled with very little furniture. The nuns sat on the floor except in the Refectory, where they sat on wooden benches at tables to eat, and in the Chapel, where they sat in choir stalls. They slept in individual cells, which were simple but not uncomfortable. Over every doorway, there was a label reading ‘Jesus’ and throughout there were copies of sacred pictures.
Both of these accounts are reproduced in the Saffron Walden Historical Journal, Number 7 (Spring 2004) and Number 9 (Spring 2005). 

If you have any memories of the convent, please do get in touch, as we would be very interested to learn more about it.

The Carmelite way of life

The Carmelite way of life centres on   contemplation. Although Carmelite friars (male Carmelites) work in the community, caring for the sick and teaching, Carmelite nuns live an enclosed life, separated from the everyday world. A large proportion of their time is spent praying, meditating and carrying out other religious activities. The nuns pray together in a Chapel or choir, in the morning and the afternoon. The remainder of their time is occupied with household  work. The life is strict and often includes fasting.


You can see the clogs on display in the museum until 31 March 2017.


Object of the Month – February 2017

February’s Object of the Month is a dinosaur footprint. It was chosen as Object of the Month by Sarah Kenyon, Natural Sciences Officer.

The footprint was made by a young Iguanodon dinosaur 145 to 100 million years ago during the early Cretaceous period. This cast of the footprint was fossilised in chalky limestone rock. You are looking at the underside of the three-toed footprint. It was bought at a quarry near Swanage in Dorset during the twentieth century.

Dinosaur Footprints
Footprints can provide information about the type of dinosaur and the size, weight and speed of these extinct animals. This one was identified by a geologist as the footprint of a young Iguanodon. It was preserved when the imprint left by the foot of the Iguanodon was quickly filled with lime rich mud from a lake or stream. The limy mud eventually turned to limestone rock and formed a cast of the footprint on the underside of the layer of rock.

Iguanadon (image courtesy of Natural History Museum)

Iguanodon was one of the most successful and widespread dinosaurs. Fossils have been found in Britain, Germany, Spain, Belgium and the United States of America. The name Iguanodon means ‘iguana tooth’. It is pronounced “ig-WHA-noh-don”. Boulenger and van Beneden named the dinosaur in 1881. An adult Iguanodon was up to ten metres long and weighed almost five tons. It is now thought that Iguanodon could walk on all fours or on two legs. The dinosaur had three toes, five fingers and large thumb spikes, which may have been used to defend against predators. It had a horny beak and the teeth were chewing teeth so it ate plants.

Museum Dinosaur Fossils
Saffron Walden Museum has only five dinosaur specimens in the geology collection. They are this fossilised dinosaur footprint; a cast of a flying reptile fossil, a Pterosaur from Solnhofen in Germany; and three replicas in a school loan box. The replicas are of a tooth from a plant-eating dinosaur, the tooth of a meat-eating dinosaur and the footprint of a small carnivorous Theropod dinosaur which walked on two legs.

The dinosaur footprint is on display in the museum until 28 February 2017 where you can discover more about fossilisation.