What­ever the weather we’re cer­tainly in­spired by the rain

Gloucestershire Echo - - NOSTALGIA -

BE­ING Bri­tish we do tend to go on about the weather!

I asked my mother what I should write about and she said ‘rain’ so I have wracked my brains to think what we might have in the col­lec­tions that cov­ered this theme.

These are some of my find­ings. The first and most ob­vi­ous data­base search was the word ‘rain’.

That threw up pa­per ephemera with ‘it’s rain­ing cats and dogs’ and ‘it never rains but it pours’, both on post­cards sent from the Western Front in the First World War.

A lot of our letters in the Wil­son ar­chives re­flect the ap­palling rain and mud in the trenches of North­ern France.

Bernard Wil­son, a Colonel in the Kings Own York­shire Light In­fantry, wrote reg­u­larly to his par­ents at Westal, Chel­tenham de­scrib­ing his ac­tiv­i­ties and of course the weather. One such let­ter dated May 1917 reads: “This is a most ghastly, de­serted, shell swept area not a liv­ing tree all cut down (ex­cept a few shell torn stumps)….. The air is just alive with our aero­planes – our fighters are very good. We have had heavy show­ers & the mud is just aw­ful. God bless you all. I love you very dearly.”

A fur­ther search un­der ‘storm’ pro­duced one of Bernard Wil­son’s brother’s wa­ter­colours, a very fine stormy land­scape of Mcgillicud­dy Reeks in Kerry, 1905. Ed­ward Wil­son, the artist, was a noted ob­server of the nat­u­ral world, paint­ing both land­scapes and an­i­mals, birds and plants.

He is best known for his Antarc­tic work but when in Bri­tain he de­picted the land­scape in all its guises, wet or dry. He would tramp in the hills above Chel­tenham wrapped up in a cloak in all weathers, wel­com­ing rain as a ‘drink for the ground and re­fresh­ment for the soul’.

And when it does rain and we want to go out, what do we need?

Our col­lec­tions hold ad­ver­tise­ments for rain pro­tec­tion gear in­clud­ing

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um­brel­las and ga­loshes, mack­in­toshes and rain hats but also photograph­s and draw­ings of peo­ple us­ing their rain­wear. I rather like this whim­si­cal post­card of a young woman hold­ing a brol­ley to pro­tect her from a shower of pan­sies! In the Vic­to­rian lan­guage of flow­ers quoted here, thoughts are rep­re­sented by pan­sies; and as the woman looks rather happy I imag­ine she is en­joy­ing a shower of lov­ing thoughts from an ad­mirer!

For a more prac­ti­cal but beau­ti­fully crafted piece I end my rain se­lec­tions with an oak um­brella stand de­signed by Peter Waals for Arthur Mitchell’s home in Glen­fall House, Charl­ton Kings.

It was made in Chal­ford in 1930, and is now part of our des­ig­nated arts and crafts move­ment col­lec­tion.

So next time it rains and you need some in­spi­ra­tion why not search our on­line data­base at chel­tenham mu­seum.org.uk/col­lec­tions or pop in.

The Wil­son is open from Tues­day to Satur­day 9.30am-5.15pm, Thurs­day 9.30 to 7.45, Sun­day 19.45 to 5.15.

For in­for­ma­tion on all our events, visit our chel­tenham­mu­seum.org.uk/ or fol­low us on Face­book and Twit­ter as @Thewil­sonchelt

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