Whatever the weather we’re certainly inspired by the rain
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
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.
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