Derbyshire, A Place for Poetry and Politics

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

This week’s blog has been written by Lorna Ormiston, a history undergraduate from Sheffield University who specialises in the 17th and 18th century.

During my four week placement at Buxton Museum, I had the opportunity to handle both Thomas Hobbes’ and Charles Cotton’s poems on the “wonders” surrounding Derbyshire.

hobbes coverThomas Hobbes’ poem De mirabilibus pecci, which was first published in Latin in 1636 and then published later in English, is a celebration of what Hobbes referred to as the seven wonders of Derbyshire.[i] These wonders included: Chatsworth House, Tideswell’s Ebbing and Flowing Stream, Mam Tor, Peak Cavern, Poole’s Cavern, St Ann’s Well in Buxton and Eldon Hole in Peak Forest.[ii]  Whilst, photographing the topographical poem for the museum’s historical records, it was clear that Hobbes’ recognition of Derbyshire was in part motivated by Hobbes wanting to bolster his reputation. Unbeknownst to Hobbes, Hobbes later becomes well-known for…

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Gondwanaland

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Volunteer archivist Ian Gregory poses another meditative inquiry:

I have, whilst working at Buxton Museum, catalogued a map of a continent that no longer exists. The geologists call it Gondwana or Gondwanaland, and most of the present day southern landmasses were once part of it. It broke up gradually but the process began about 200 million years ago.

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Seeing this map on a plate for a slide reminded me of how hard it can be for new ideas to be accepted. The theory of continental drift, of which Gondwanaland is a crucial part, was first proposed in 1912 by Alfred Wegener but few people took it seriously. In 1957, Marie Tharp and Bruce Heezen published a map of the sea floor of the Atlantic Ocean and it showed the sea floor gradually spreading out from underwater volcanoes in the middle of said ocean. For the first time, scientists knew of…

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The new Buxton Museum shop

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

The recent renovation at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery gave us chance to review all aspects of our service including the gift shop. These days, most museums and art galleries have really great shops where you can purchase souvenirs that reflect the unique character of the place, as well as raise some revenue. Funded by the Arts Council and guided by retail expert Polly Redman, we decided to embark on an enterprise of our own.

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I started by collecting an assortment of images from the collections and asked my colleagues which ones appealed to them from a retail perspective. Our marketing advisor, Jen Francis, quickly pointed out that what the museum staff liked might be different from what the majority of the public liked, which was a good point; we can be a bit geeky! Most of the team agreed that we could not go wrong with the museum bear…

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Emmy’s Work Experience

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery offers regular work experience placements to students so they can get realistic idea of day-to-day life in heritage and tourism. Traditionally, we get them to describe their time here by writing a blog. Emmy Cooper; a second-year Travel and Tourism student at Buxton College, writes about her recent stint (as well as providing you with some exclusive behind-the-scenes photographs).

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I started a week of work experience at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery on Thursday the 4th of May. I wanted to have a placement here because I knew that the building was undergoing a major refurbishment, and I was pleased to be involved in the transformation of it. I’m also very interested in culture and tourism, so I really enjoyed developing my knowledge whilst here.

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During my week I did a variety of things, I practically enjoyed testing a new app that has been developed by the museum; it guided me to interesting locations and features in Buxton. This app will shortly be available to the public to use if they wish to explore Buxton and the surrounding areas. I gave my feedback to staff about my experience using the new app. I also delicately cleaned some of the 1,200 exhibit items the museum has! These will go on display in the new galleries when it re-opens after renovation. I contributed my ideas about the layout of the new gift shop, and placed items on display.

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This work experience placement has allowed me to learn how the museum is run on a daily basis, and what the roles and responsibilities are for the staff that works here. It has been an enjoyable week and has benefited me hugely. I would recommend Buxton Museum to anyone who is considering doing a work placement, it’s lots of fun!

Whilst I was here, the museum has not been open to the public, however I’ve been very busy and had a productive week by helping members of staff get the museum ready for the opening day on June the 6th.

Time for a bit of Spring Cleaning

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

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With the reopening of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery close on the horizon, the time has come to dust the cobwebs off the collection so that it can match the rest of the new shiny gallery.


I have been working closely with the museum’s bone material. In the picture above you can see that some of the pieces – like this hyena jaw bone discovered in Elderbush cave – were in definite need of a little TLC after being displayed for so many years in the old gallery. So, adorned with a set of brushes and little pieces of rubber sponge I began the task of patiently dabbing, wiping and brushing away the years to breathe new life into each of the bone objects.


Below you can see the after shot of my work, and evidently
a little bit of spring cleaning really does make all the difference!


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Jasmine Barnfather…

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Easter Eggs-hibits at Buxton Museum

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Museums commonly deal with old things and creatures that have long shuffled off the mortal coil. You would not immediately associate them with a holiday like Easter which celebrates new life. However, among the collections at Buxton Museum, there are a few peculiar eggs; traditional symbols at this time of year. We thought we would share some of them with you while we are closed for renovation.

Eggs made from rock, minerals and gemstones were popular in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. We can only speculate why. With no internet, the people of these eras had to resort to talking to each other so perhaps such novelties inspired cheerful conversation. Indeed, Buxton Museum still sells quite a lot of colourful marble eggs in its gift shop. They look pretty and feel pleasingly tactile in the palm of your hand.

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This egg has been crafted from the local rare mineral called…

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