In our Franklin collection we’ve come across this scrapbook:
It was most likely put together by Lady Jane Franklin herself, although we don’t know whether she gave it the rather fabulous title of ‘Arctic scraps’. It is full of newspaper cuttings, prints, and other material related to the efforts to find the missing expedition.
It also includes posters offering rewards for helping in the search: Lady Jane herself offered £3000 to whaling ships willing to take part and the UK government even offered £20,000. The National Archives has a handy currency converter, which tells us that this equates to approximately £240,500 and £1,6 million in today’s money!
We don’t have a £20,000 reward on offer, but we do have a selection of rewards for you to choose from if you donate to our crowdfunding campaign. And if you choose the Behind the Scenes Tour, we’ll even add in a cup of tea and some nice biscuits…
Within the collection of objects that we’ve called ‘Lady Jane’s Museum’ there are three beautiful fans which may have belonged to Lady Jane Franklin or to the Gell family from Hopton Hall. According to an expert at The Fan Museum in Greenwich, the oldest one dates from the seventeenth century:
In the earlier part of the seventeenth century the most commonly used fans were ‘fixed’ and consisted of feathers set into a handle. Later on in the century folded, hand-painted fans, such as the one above, gained in popularity; by the end of the century the folded fans had completely superseded the fixed ones.
Next is an early eighteenth century fan; by this time folding fans were very popular and were being made all over Europe and imported from the Far East:
The third fan dates from around 1805-1810 and is a brisé ivory fan. This type of fan consists only of decorative sticks, with no pleated fabric attached:
The sticks of brisé fans are usually intricately carved and held together with a ribbon which is either glued to each stick, or – as in this case- threaded through pierced openings. The carvings were meant to give the illusion of filigree or lace.
Our fabulous fans are in great condition considering their age and we’ll heed the Fan Museum’s advice by storing them closed in museum boxes. If you’d like to help us look after them, as well as the other objects in Lady Jane’s Museum, you can donate on our crowdfunding page or call our reception on 01629 538347.
A week and a half into our crowdfunding campaign we’ve already raised £565! Every little nudge that will get us closer to our £1000 goal is much appreciated.
The Derbyshire Times has a big article about our crowdfunding campaign and did you catch us – very briefly – on East Midlands Today on Wednesday evening? Great to see so much interest!
And we’ve had another wonderful comment from a supporter:
‘Cultural history is very important and we should do everything necessary to preserve our knowledge of it’
Will you be next to help us preserve our cultural history? Then support us on our crowdfunding page or by calling our reception on 01629 538 347.
Only a few days into our crowdfunding project and we’ve already reached nearly £200! A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us so far, and especially for the lovely comments you’ve left behind, such as:
‘Because the past is as important as the future.’
‘Real history is vital in the midst of meaningless memories. Support this venture for future generations.’
If you agree, then do have a look at our video and support us on our crowdfunding page.
Or you can call our reception on 01629 538 347 and donate over the phone.
Did you get it from our teaser? It showed us having a go at shooting a video to go on our crowdfunding page. Yes, we’re diving into the 21st century and are starting a crowdfunding campaign for the objects in Lady Jane’s Museum. As I’ve mentioned before, Lady Jane Franklin kept some of her most precious mementos in a small museum at her home, where she would show them to visitors. All these lovely objects came to us jumbled up in a box, together with objects kept by the Gell family from Hopton Hall (the family Eleanor Franklin, Lady Jane’s stepdaughter, married into).
Lying loose in a box isn’t very good for any of them, as they are moving about and damaging each other, so we want to package them in such a way that they are safe, but still together as one collection. We’d also like to hire a professional photographer to take high quality photographs of them all, which we can then add to our online catalogue so everyone can see them. Through crowdfunding we want to give people from all over the world the chance to be a part of our Discovering Franklin project and help us look after this amazing collection.
There’s more information on our crowdfunding page, where you can watch that video and find out why we’re not asking for boats…
Lady Jane Franklin has inspired us to try something new – can you guess from our teaser what it is?
When Sir John Franklin was Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), he and Lady Jane adopted a local Aboriginal girl, Mathinna. By this time virtually all Tasmanian Aborigines had been removed from the main island, making Mathinna the only Aboriginal person, save for those at the Orphan School, still allowed to live there. Sir John’s daughter Eleanor was put in charge of Mathinna’s education, and a diary entry from Eleanor from 14 September 1841 suggests the two girls got on well, with Eleanor describing Mathinna as ‘affectionate and intelligent’.
The entry also mentions Mathinna had been given a doll with a petticoat – amazingly we have come across a small black doll in our Franklin collection that matches the description! Could this be Mathinna’s doll?
There is also a pincushion, neatly labelled as having been made by Mathinna, which was clearly part of Lady Jane’s Museum, alongside some other mementos from Tasmania.
When the Franklins left Tasmania in 1843, they left Mathinna behind; apparently doctors were concerned that she wouldn’t survive the British climate. She was sent to the Orphan School – perhaps she wasn’t allowed to take her doll? – and then back to Flinders Island. Abandoned to a life of poverty, she lived at Oyster Cove, south of Hobart and died at a young age, the precise date of which is unknown.
Mathinna’s life has inspired literary works and dance productions in Australia, where she has come to symbolise the way colonists treated all Aboriginal people.
The latest exhibition on display at the record office throws light on some of the most important people in life of Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, each with their own fascinating story.
Jane Griffin, later to be Lady Jane Franklin, drawn by Amelie Romilly while on holiday in Geneva in 1816
Keskarrah and Green Stockings, from John Franklin’s “A Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea”, published 1823
There are his two wives, the poetic Eleanor, who died tragically young, and the formidable Jane, Lady Franklin, one of the celebrities of the Victorian age. There is also his daughter Eleanor, together with her clergyman husband John Philip Gell and their talented children.
There are also his friends and colleagues, noted explorers in their own right, such as Sir Edward Parry, Sir John Ross and Sir Leopold McClintock and John Rae, as well as people who briefly but spectacularly crossed his path such as the native North American known as Miss Green Stockings.
Items on display include (possibly) one of the last letters written by John Franklin, dated 6 July 1845. Franklin and his expedition were last seen by Europeans only a few weeks later, on 26 July, after which they were never heard of again.
Visit us to see this and many more items associated with this fascinating individual and his incredible story.
This free exhibition runs from 23rd May – 13th September.
Derbyshire Record Office
Our project archivist discovered a letter in our Franklin Collection which he realised must have been one of the last ones Sir John Franklin ever wrote. It is dated 6 July 1845 and was written on Whale Fish Island:
Franklin and his expedition were last seen by Europeans only a few weeks later, on 26 July, after which they were never heard of again. The touching letter is to his daughter, Eleanor, and he urges her and her Mama [Lady Franklin] not to be anxious if he does not return within 3 years, as they have stores and provisions enough to last that long.
We asked our Twitter friends on @FranklinArchive whether they knew of a later letter, and yes, around the same time Franklin wrote a lengthy letter to his wife, Lady Jane, the final part of which is dated 12 July. That letter is not part of our collection, but perhaps one day the two can be reunited, as they presumably traveled to England together.
Franklin’s last letter to Eleanor is currently on display in our latest exhibition ‘Franklin’s People’, why not pop in and see it for yourself!
Going through the box of objects in our Franklin Archive, I’ve come across a piece of lace, sewn on to a pink piece of fabric. There is a dried flower sewn on to both as well.
In very neat writing it claims to be a Piece of hangings of the Princess of Wales boudoir, St George Chapel, March 10 1863.
The Princess of Wales in question was Alexandra of Denmark, but on that date she’d only just received the title, as this was her wedding day. On 10 March 1863 Alexandra married the eldest son of Queen Victoria, Albert, the Prince of Wales, who would become King Edward VII in 1901. It was the first royal wedding to take place at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle; there have been many more there since, most notably recently the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The inscription is similar to those on other objects which belonged to Lady Jane Franklin, so it’s fair to assume this was also part of her private museum. The big question is: did she attend the wedding or was the lace given to her by someone who did? We know she was definitely in England at the time, but haven’t been able to place her at the wedding yet – do let us know if you have a list of royal wedding guests from 1863 lying around…