Derbyshire’s Beatrix Potter connection

Recently we were visited by two ladies who were researching Edmund Potter & Co Calico Printers of Dinting Vale, Glossop.  Edmund Potter & Co was once possibly the largest calico printworks in the world, and on checking our catalogues we discovered that we had an uncatalogued collection which no-one had been particularly aware of.

The collection (D1589) was bequeathed to us by Alderman J G Hurst of Glossop, who wrote a biography of Edmund Potter and collected books and archives about calico printing.  The collection contains a lot of printed books, which we didn’t usually collect (possibly explaining why it wasn’t catalogued at the time) – although of course now we also house local studies, that’s changed.  Delving into the boxes, however, revealed some beautiful original Potter & Co pattern books dating back to the 1850s containing swatches of fabrics in stunningly fresh colours.

D1589 printing samples (8) D1589 printing samples (12) D1589 printing samples (13)

An even more unexpected find was a man’s shirt printed with tiny images, possibly from children’s illustrations.  We don’t recognise the pictures and although one of them shows a Manchester postmark.  If the date on that postmark is anything to go by, the shirt would date to around 1883.

D1589 Shirt (2)

D1589 Shirt (12)D1589 Shirt (8)

So what’s the Beatrix Potter connection?  Well, Edmund Potter was Beatrix’s grandfather and according to one of the ladies who came to look at the collection (she is an expert on Beatrix Potter) he used to send the young Beatrix fabric samples which she would use to make up little outfits for her toys.  She would then make paintings of those dressed up characters… and of  course these ultimately developed into her famous books.  She also used the fabric to bind her own books and folders of her paintings.

Now that we’ve rediscovered this wonderful material, we’re cataloguing it so that more people will be aware that it’s here.  But isn’t it nice to think that Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and other beloved Beatrix Potter characters may have been clothed in some of the fabrics tucked within our pattern books?  Oh, and if you recognise any of the characters printed on the shirt, please tell us, as they’re a complete mystery!

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Creepy House: creative models of Wingfield Manor

This week we have delivered the first of our 13 kids activity sessions as part of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. In line with this year’s theme, Creepy House, the typically enthusiastic children and just as enthusiastic parents in New Mills and Glossop created some fantastic and eery models of Wingfield Manor.

All sessions are free of charge and the children are encouraged to enter their work into our competition to win a new book. All competition entries will be displayed in the gallery wall at the Record Office in Matlock from 2 September for visitors to vote for the best ones. Still to come…

Derbyshire’s own Creepy House – Wingfield Manor: 15th century mansion, 16th century prison, 17th century fort, 18th century ruin

Discover the secrets of Wingfield Manor ready to build and design your own model of this creepy house

                Newbold Library, Monday 12 August, 10.30am – 11.30am

                Creswell Library, Monday 12 August, 2.30pm-3.30pm

                Dronfield Library, Monday 19 August, 10.30am – 11.30am

                Alfreton Library, Thursday 29 August, 10.30am – 11.30am

Breaking News! Family histories jumbled in crash: Use the clues to put the families stories back together and create a history suitcase for the next generation

Craft session to get children thinking about their ancestry

                Long Eaton Library, Wednesday 14 August, 2.00pm-3.30pm

                Eckington Library, Monday 19 August, 2.00pm-3.30pm

                Chesterfield Library, Friday 23 August, 10.30am – 11.30am

                Ilkeston Library, Thursday 29 August, 2.00pm-3.30pm

A Century of My Village: What was your village like when Queen Victoria was on the throne?

Use old photographs to make your own pop-theatre of the village

                Melbourne Library, Wednesday 14 August, 10.30am – 11.30am

                Bolsover Library, Friday 23 August, 2.00pm-3.00pm

If you would like to book please contact the appropriate library. More information about the Summer Reading Challenge can be found at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/libraries or by contacting your local library.