A Selection of Derbyshire Treasures

By Derbyshire Record Office

In 2012 Derbyshire Record Office celebrated its 50th birthday by selecting 50 treasures that had been collected over the past half century.  These are a few of our favourites spanning the corners of the county from the fifteenth to the twentieth century. 

Medieval English dance choreographies (1490) by John BanysDerbyshire Record Office

The Gresley Dance manuscript

Written around 1490, just after the end of the Wars of the Roses, John Banys' notebook gives the choreography for twenty six medieval dances. We do not know who John Banys was, but his book is in the archive of the Gresley family from Drakelow in South Derbyshire.

Medieval dance melodies (circa 1490) by John BanysDerbyshire Record Office

Accompanying the choreographies are melodies for some of the dances.

Illustrations of Chiromancy (1490) by John BanysDerbyshire Record Office

Dance wasn't John Banys' only interest. He also copied a treatise on physiognomy and one on chiromancy (palmistry) which included illustrations.

Charter for the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Ashbourne (first page) (1585) by workshop of Nicholas HilliardDerbyshire Record Office

The Ashbourne Charter

The 1585 Charter that founded the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Ashbourne is a work of art as well as an important document. It was an expensive item and cost £28, the equivalent of £20,000 in modern money.

The charter is made of three parchment leaves, all illuminated with illustrated borders.

The portrait of Queen Elizabeth I follows famous miniature portrait painter Nicholas Hilliard's 'Mask of Queenship' pattern and is likely to have been painted at his workshop.

Lady Arbella Stuart (1791) by George VertueDerbyshire Record Office

Lady Arbella Stuart's list of jewels

Lady Arbella Stuart was the granddaughter of Bess of Hardwick, one of the wealthiest women in Elizabethan England.  Related to royalty, Bess hoped that Arbella might succeed Elizabeth I as Queen of England.  Written ten days after Bess' death, Arbella's list of jewels is likely to be part of her inheritance. 

Arbella grew up in Hardwick Hall, a house which Bess designed to show off her enormous wealth. Now owned by the National Trust, Hardwick Hall is a popular visitor attraction.

List of Jewels given to Arbella Stuart (1608-02-23) by UnknownDerbyshire Record Office

The list is signed by Arbella in the margin. Jewels include two ropes of pearls, a globe set with diamonds and rubies, a seal 'like a pillar' set with ruby, diamond and emerald, and two diamond crosses.

Count Zambeccari's Balloon as it ascended from Tottenham Court Road (1786-02) by George Moutard WoodwardDerbyshire Record Office

George Woodward cartoons

The Record Office has a collection of over 500 sketches, drawings and cartoons by Derby born satirist George Moutard Woodward.  They span his working life, from the 1780s to his death in 1809.

Mrs Siddons in the character of Euphrasia (1780/1789) by George Moutard WoodwardDerbyshire Record Office

Many of Woodward's early drawings were studies of actors in costume for their roles.

Mr Lunardi's British Balloon Flag (1785) by George Moutard WoodwardDerbyshire Record Office

He recorded significant events, including several balloon ascensions. After the first balloon flight in Paris, in 1783, there were several in London which drew huge crowds.

Fashion (1801-04-02) by George Moutard Woodward and Thomas RowlandsonDerbyshire Record Office

Woodward enjoyed poking fun at the latest fashions.

The Corsican Spider in his Web (1808-07-12) by George Moutard WoodwardDerbyshire Record Office

British-French relations and the rise of Napoleon were often the subjects of his political cartoons.

Portrait of Florence Nightingale (1855) by UnknownDerbyshire Record Office

Florence Nightingale's letters

Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, came from a Derbyshire family.  She maintained an interest in the village of Lea, where the Nightingales' had their house, Lea Hurst, and kept up a correspondence with a local doctor in nearby Crich.

Letter from Florence Nightingale about treatment for Widow Limb (1877-09-12) by Florence NightingaleDerbyshire Record Office

Florence took a keen interest in the people who lived in the village near Lea Hurst and paid for the doctor to visit people who could not otherwise afford medical treatment, such as Widow Limb.

Letter from Florence Nightingale asking for medical advice (1877-08-23) by Florence NightingaleDerbyshire Record Office

Florence respected Mr Dunn's medical opinion and asked for his advice about treating the staff of Lea Hurst, the Nightingales' Derbyshire house, for various ailments, from stoutness to small pox.

Pleasley Village (1919) by Maude VerneyDerbyshire Record Office

Maude Verney watercolors

Maude's husband's family were landowners in Pleasley, and her father in law was Lord of the Manor. Although Maude lived in London, she painted beautiful watercolors that capture Pleasley between 1914 and 1920.

Mr Warner's Hay (1914/1915) by Maude VerneyDerbyshire Record Office

Maude's watercolours capture rural life just before the outbreak of the First World War.

Pleasley coal mine (1919-05-15) by Maude VerneyDerbyshire Record Office

In contrast to the idyllic views of Pleasley village, her painting of Pleasley colliery is dark and forbidding.

Although the Pleasley that Maude Verney painted looks very different today, Pleasley Pit is still recognisable and remains as a museum to a lost Derbyshire industry.

Aerial view of the Ferodo factory at Chapel-en-le-Frith (1950/1959) by Ferodo LtdDerbyshire Record Office

Ferodo's advertising

Ferodo is based in Chapel-en-Frith, on the North Western edge of Derbyshire.  The company has been manufacturing brake linings for over a hundred years and has used some ingenious advertising for its products.

Ferodo display at the Colliery and General Mining Exhibition in Manchester (1925) by Mack & Co, ManchesterDerbyshire Record Office

By 1925, when Ferodo attended the Colliery and General Mining Exhibition in Manchester, the company's pioneering use of asbestos in brake linings meant that it was a world leader.

Ferodo brake linings advertisement (1927) by Ferodo LtdDerbyshire Record Office

'A Compleat Map of the Island of Nevacantell' is a pastiche of an antique map. It is full of little details that humorously illustrate the superiority of Ferodo's brake linings.

From greyhound racing to the hospital for drivers who don't use Ferodo brake linings (To Let because all drivers have Ferodo fitted) every inch displays the virtues of their brake linings.

With its stone bridges and local dialect the fictitious Nevacantell has a hint of Derbyshire. The fisherman is told 'Hey Mister you have caught a cold' as 'Hey Mester thous caut a caud!'

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