Turn out your Pockets/Kindle the Flame #WOWW
In Wales, Calan Mai (May Day) was traditionally a time of hope and celebration where farmers could shrug off the scarcity of winter and welcome the prosperity of sunshine. In this spirit, on Saturday 2nd May, Narberth Museum invites members of the community to bring along sentimental objects or keepsakes that relate to female ancestors and spend time chatting about them over tea and biscuits.
It is hoped that the conversations can be recorded for future generations and that the objects can be photographed for an exhibition as part of the Women of West Wales Project at the museum. The aim is to reclaim the May Day tradition of ‘Turn out your pockets/Kindle the flame’ to represent Welsh women’s history and make it available to all in a spirit of inclusion and community inspired by our ancestors.
No artifact is too small as everything that has been ‘kept’ over time holds meaning and provides an insight into our ancestors’ thoughts, experiences and way of life. Some examples from the museum archive include a pink corset with the iconic CC41 label attached. This was a British Board of Trade label, introduced in 1941, to show that clothing and textiles complied with wartime austerity regulations. To modern eyes the garment appears luxurious in fabric and design, but the lack of lace or embroidery marks a departure from the more cumbersome female underwear of earlier generations.
A record player from the museum’s collection unearths the tragic story of its previous owner; a young woman who was killed aged 22. Nevertheless, hearing the music discovered through her record collection recaptures her youthful energy and life.
The wartime diary of Marjorie Harding also brings direct and personal access to major historical events. Her teenage writings from 1940 keep detailed records of military losses alongside lists of the romantic novels she has been reading. As the year progresses it reveals the impact of war on the lives of ordinary people in real time. She mentions a ‘shortage of potatoes’, then a ‘shortage of coal’, compounded by the ‘severest winter weather in living memory…(which) brings war to a standstill’.
If you have any heirlooms with a story to tell, Narberth Museum would love to hear from you. Please get in touch with any questions or if you would like to take part in the project by emailing [email protected] or calling 01834 860 500.
*Discover more about the #lotterysupported Women of West Wales Project at www.woww.narberthmuseum.co.uk