A Few of Our Favourite Things

close up of a section of hand written text

This letter from 1838 shows the difficult working relationship Brunel had with William Ranger. William was contracted to build sections of the Great Western Railway. Unimpressed with his delays, Brunel dismissed him and kept his tools!

two glass eyes, blue-grey in colour

A rather wonderful boxed collection of glass eyes came from the premises of ophthalmic optician Mr Eubulus Williams in Queen Street. Why did he stock so many glass eyes (the full collection has many colour and shape options)? Was it because of agricultural accidents, injuries from the First World War, or eye infections that took hold before antibiotics were invented?

a coil of rope made from brown hair accompanied by a sepia photo of a woman using the rope as a swing

Probably the most unusual object in the museum collection. Maud Albrighton lived next to Rope Walk, East Street. She had very long, strong hair. When it was cut, the ropemakers made her hair into a rope – and here she is swinging on it!

a brightly coloured bag decorated with raised patterns made of seed beads

Bags or pouches were essential items for the well-dressed Victorian lady. They were ideal for carrying small items such as coins, dance cards and cosmetics. Some might have held a solid gold sovereign – a popular gift for 21st birthdays.

black stone axe head shown from above. Circular hole in middle

This beautifully crafted Bronze Age axe head would have been an important status symbol. Where Hand Axes were the multi-tool of their day, this double-ended axe was probably used in important ceremonies.

a model of St Leonard's tower made from many different coloured pieces of broken crockery

This mosaic model of St Leonard’s Tower was made in the mid-1920s by Harry Hodges of Teigngrace. Harry was a ‘keeper’ at Stover House (now Stover School). He probably saved the pieces of broken pottery from the kitchen of the grand house. Perhaps it was a project for the dark winter evenings?