Wednesday, December 14, 2011
As part of a pilot scheme in partnership with Beauchamp Middle School and Albion Archaeology two groups of young people are developing their individual artistic skills in the arts to explore history. The Saturday Archaeology Workshop candidates visited the London Archaeological Archives and Research Centre and the Museum of London and according to Aidan’s review, it was “an amazing day.” Chris Dobson introduced them to the smelly arts of dyeing and weaving wool, just as the Saxons would have done.
Arts Award is about enjoying the arts and helping others to do so. After a workshop with local Comic Book artist Lee Smart, members of Medieval Manga group were challenged to recreate the Siege of Bedford Castle during the Museum & Gallery’s ‘Time Travel Big Draw’. Ben enjoyed painting scenes on the hoardings so much, that he came back another day to help other visitors to have a go.
Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum realises that lots of young people spend their free time creatively and we were keen to offer Arts Award qualifications to help support their aspirations and recognise their individual interests and achievements.
“Arts Award aspires to support any young person to enjoy the arts and develop creative leadership skills.”
Arts Award is managed by Trinity College London in association with Arts Council England.
Funded by Renaissance and managed by Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service, this project forms part of the Effective Museums programme for the East of England. We hope this will be the first group of many to achieve their Bronze Arts Award and that we may possibly offer Silver Arts Award in the future.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
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Friday, September 2, 2011
|Our collections all safely packed away|
The curatorial team have been posting regularly on the News from the Stores blog. 'Object of the Week' is a fixture on Tuesdays, and we also aim to share something each week from the research that is going into the new displays.
Popular posts have included:
|A Saxon window urn with a mysterious purpose|
If you're interested in the history of Bedford town the curatorial and eduction teams have been working with other organisiations on the The High Street Project, where you kind find pictures and reminiscences of shops from the High Streets past, and Hidden Bedford, where you can find out about the origins of the towns street names and other hidden aspects of Bedford.
We hope you enjoy all the posts, whether you're a chance visitor or a regular follower. Please feel free to give us any feedback on anything you've read across the blogs, either by email at email@example.com, on the blog comments sections, or by twitter on @chagandbm.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
The beginning of the building work represents a big step towards realising the vision for a new Art Gallery & Museum. Dave Hodgson, Mayor of Bedford said “With the work now under way, we look forward to its completion and to the reopening of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum for the whole community to enjoy.”
|Work beginning at the site.|
Once the works have been finalised, the new galleries will display objects in the collection that have never before been on show, as well as returning some old favourites to pride of place. Among the new displays, nationally significant collections of work by the Victorian architect-designer William Burges and the 20th century designer-printmaker Edward Bawden will be housed in dedicated galleries. New exhibition space will also allow the hosting of touring exhibitions from national museums, as well as displays from the Art Gallery & Museum’s outstanding watercolour and print collections.
This redevelopment has been made possible by £3.2 million funding from Bedford Borough Council, as well as a grant of £959,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £100,000 from the Trustees of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, £500,000 from the Wixamtree Trust, £500,000 from The Bedford Charity, £350,000 from the Monument Trust, and £200,000 from Charles Wells Ltd, in addition to funding from a number of other sources.
Monday, July 11, 2011
|Slum cottages, Waterloo - now the far more presentable Embankment Gardens.|
|The hand-made iron gates by Messrs Bacchus and Ison, and their names engraved on the plaque on the entrance to Bedford park>>>>>|
Friday, June 24, 2011
The project came from the Public Catalogue Foundation, who have been going round county by county recording all the paintings in the institutions in each area in order to produce a book on those collections. They came to Bedfordshire thankfully before we had packed away all our collections and the glossy volume Oil Paintings in Public Ownership – Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire came out earlier this year.
As well as all of the oil paintings in Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum, the county is represented by paintings from Bedford Borough Council, the John Bunyan Museum, Moot Hall, Wrest Park, and the University of Bedfordshire, as well as many others.
The Your Paintings website lets you browse through the paintings, search by Gallery or Collection, or search by artist - where each painter is beautifully represented by a painted portrait. Clicking on an artist can lead you on to a wealth of information that includes not only the usual biography and selection of works but also slideshows and links to BBC content on the iPlayer such as the programmes The Culture Show and Making Masterpieces.
An area we particularly like (and can't wait to explore fully!) is the Tagger feature. This allows users of the site to tag content in the pictures so that the subjects or details in the pictures can be searched on. This could be a simple as the keywords 'portrait' or 'landscape' or could get far more specific pointing out details like 'bonnet' or 'oak tree', or art historical genres such as 'Impressionism' or 'Vorticism'.
The possibilties are endless! The site gives you the opportunity to bring together pictures from all over the country in your personally constructed themes. And soon users will be able to create their very own guided tours too. Curators, Education departments, art enthusiasts and visitors alike will find this a valuable tool. Most importantly it should help to give the public a sense of ownership of their national and local collections, and get out and visit their museums and galleries. KP
Monday, June 20, 2011
Who built the Castle? How long was it there for? Who beseiged it? Why?
Even after a little digging, I've found out lots about the Castle that I didn't already know.
Who Built the Castle? When? Why?
The earliest Castle was built by Ralf de Tallebosc soon after the Norman Conquest in 1066. A large part of the existing Saxon town was flattened to make way for the castle, which in its earliest days would have been made of wood. The Castle was built because the incoming Normans needed a place to overlook the newly conquered town, to defend themselves from the town (if need be), to defend themselves and the town from other attackers and they needed a stronghold from where they could retreat into the coutryside.
Gradually the castle was rebuilt in stone, so that by 1130 it had a “strong and unshakeable keep”. By this time it was in the hands of the de Beauchamp family, who held the Barony of Bedford.
King Stephen. During a siege in 1153 Prince Henry, soon to be King Henry II arrived in Bedford, delivered heavy plundering and left the castle in flames. St Paul's Church suffered some damage although we don't know how extensive this was. There was another siege in 1215, when King John sent Faukes de Breaute to capture it, following a minor rebellion that arose when the King refused to abide by the terms of the Magna Carta.
The Villian - Faukes de Breaute
King John gave Faukes de Breaute the castle and barony to thank him for his efforts. Faukes set about fortifying the castle and it is said that he pulled down St Paul’s Church to use the stone. Through the early 1220s, from his impregnable base, Faukes gained a reputation as an oppressive landlord and was eventually fined £3,000 by the King’s justices based at Dunstable.
Angry at the fine, Faukes sent his brother William to capture the three justices (although two escaped) and take them to the castle. The King (Henry III by this time) was furious and ordered Faukes to release the captured judge – when he refused the King ordered an attack on the castle.
Faukes had left the defence of the castle to his brother William so was safely out of the way when the attack came.
The final siege
Matthew Paris, a monk at St Albans Abbey, chronicled the Siege of Bedford some years later. The chronicles say that the siege lasted for 8 weeks, during which time the walls of the castle were bombarded daily with large lumps of stone flung from siege engines. Miners were used to dig underneath the castle walls and it was this that eventually led its destruction: on the 14th August the final walls collapsed when the tunnels were lit on fire, and the Keep was taken.
There my have been over 2500 men involved in the siege, coming from as far away as Cumberland in the north and Dorset in the south. Around 200 of them were killed. Most of the men inside the castle were hanged, although it is said that 3 were spared to serve as Knights Templar in the Holy Land.
The fall of the castle would have been a severe loss to the town as it would have been the town's biggest employer and the focus of town life. In the years since the siege the castle mound has had several uses. From the late 14th Century the ruins were used as a rubbish dump and in the 18th Century the top of the mound was used as a bowling green.
If you fancy finding out more about the siege why not go along to The Siege ,
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I've been working on some interesting projects recently, trying to find ways to get our collections out and about whilst our building is closed for redevelopment. A museum of course, is much more then a building, so we should be able to find plenty of ways for people to engage with collections, heritage and museumy things during the redevelopment.
The first of these is The Bedford High Street History Project -
Bedford High Street History Project was inspired by a BBC One series broadcast in the Autumn of 2010, Turn Back Time - The High Street. This showed how shops changed radically between the Victorian era and the 1970's. The programme makers also invited members of the public to investigate and record the history of shopping in their own locality. So with a great deal of help from Margaret Badley, a group of researchers* was set up to investigate the history of Bedford High Street.
This has been a great opportunity to pull together the reams of information about shops in our High Street which was scattered between Bedford Library, Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service (BLARS), Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum and the Historic Environment Record (HER). All of these are open to the public for further research apart from the Art Gallery & Museum which is closed for redevelopment until late 2012.
The results of all of this research can be seen in an exhibition at Bedford Central Library, which runs from 16th - 28th May 2011.
You can also access some oral history interviews, photographs and view some artefacts from the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum Collections on a dedicated blog we have put together. If you happen to be walking along the High Street, have a look out for our QR Code posters. These should be up in Goldings, Harrison & Simmonds, The Skills Bank, Allders Opticians and Debenhams. So far there are only five stops on our QR Code tour, but we hope to add a few more in time..
If you would like to know more about what QR Codes are and how they work - have a look here.
*Stuart Antrobus, Terry Darlow, David Fowler, Sally Heard, Hilary McDonald, Cathy Moorhouse, Elizabeth Mortimer, Jennifer Salter and Barry Stephenson.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum Group Pool, a group on Flickr.
We've been enjoying the photographs of street party celebrations in our Flickr Group Pool. If you have some great shots from street parties in Bedford, why not add them here?