Abbey Museum Jewellery

How Ornaments Make us Human

On Saturday 4th August Dr Michelle Langley entertained thirty Museum Friends and their guests with her fascinating presentation on jewellery – “bling” – over the millennia. Dr Langley is the DECRA (Discovery Early Career Researcher Award) Research Fellow at Griffith University; her special area of study is Sulawesi, Timor-Leste and Australia.

Dr Langley’s illustrated presentation described how humans have used personal ornamentation as far back as Neanderthal times and how this could be shown as a manner of differentiating humans from animals. She explained how cave paintings depicted people with various types of ornamentation and how this archaeological evidence provides insights into how some of these ornaments were made.

In addition to the pictorial evidence there is a wealth of recently discovered archaeological evidence of ornamentation found in burials and sites of early human occupation, especially in Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Australia. Analysis of these recent discoveries is showing that the belief in the capacity of our ancestors for language, art, complex technologies and social behaviour only developed after they reached Europe approximately 40,000 years ago is incorrect. …

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Abbey Museum Musketeer stained glass

Musketeer Makeover

After completing the fundraising for the conservation of the medieval and Victorian Stained glass in the Abbey Church and a window of one of the Three Magi above the door to the Abbey Museum, focus has turned to fundraising for the conservation of smaller, but still significant, panels that are currently in the reserve collection.

The first of these is a small but beautifully made panel depicting a Musketeer. This panel dates to the 17th century and probably comes from southern Germany.  I am very happy to announce that funds have now been raised for this window’s conservation. Thank you to everyone who generously donated towards this project or attended one of our special fundraising Trivia Nights dedicated to the stained glass conservation program.

Of course, the most celebrated and romanticised musketeers in history were the famous quartet immortalised by French author Alexandre Dumas whose swashbuckling novel in 1844 was set in the dangerous times for the scheming Cardinal Richelieu and King Louis XIII.

Who were the Musketeers?

Technically, any soldiers armed with …

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craft

Crafts of the Regency Period

A blog by Felicity Miller…

Crafts were the gentlewoman’s skill of the time

…young ladies can have the patience to be so very accomplished… They all paint tables, cover skreens and net purses.”

As romantic as the crafts of the period sound, basically without Netflix or social media, the ladies of the Regency era were quite bored and had to find something to keep themselves busy until they found a man of good fortune.

In modern times, needlework and painting are hobbies, to be enjoyed during leisure time. Admittedly, all of a gentlewoman’s time in the Austen era was leisure time, but these crafts served many practical purposes as well. Despite not being part of the workforce, women were still expected contribute to the household in their own elegant way. Their mending, production and embellishment of clothing and household goods was seen as their provision for the family, along with the eventual production of sons. Some of the items produced by young ladies were purely decorative, allowing women the chance to exhibit their skills with covered screens or embroidered cushions …

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Queen Mary of Teck

… But Names Will Never Hurt Me

Many of our modern surnames have their origins in the middle ages. Some names indicate clan or family linage such as all of the Scandinavian and Scottish names ending in son meaning “son of” or those beginning with the Norman French “Fitz” such as Fitzmichael ( Son of Michael).  Scots and Irish Gaelic surnames frequently begin with Mac (son of ) or O’ ( descendant of) are also quite well known examples of the name declaring the family line.

Some relate to the area of a person’s origin e.g. Flemming (from Flanders), Scott, Munster, English etc.  The German and Dutch Von and Van also give a place of origin; though in the case of the German Von it generally means that they owned the place in question e.g. Ulrich von Lichtenstein was the ruler of Lichtenstein.

In the Abbey Museum collection you will notice a few items gifted to JSM Ward from Mary of Teck, who just to complicate matters was born in England and not Teck, which was in  the Kingdom of Württemberg, …

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Discussing Garden Remedies

Remedies of the Regency Period

‘Needs means must’  – especially remedies

(A blog by Felicity Miller, images from Pride & Prejudice Scrapbook blog 1996)

During the Regency period, most consumable goods and remedies needed to be produced directly on the family estate. Herbs and medicines were no exception.  With limited methods of keeping fruit and vegetables fresh, and long travel times between regions, access to a complete, and varied diet was almost impossible. Treatment of most ailments started at home, and a doctor was only called when their condition escalated dramatically. Some people would die before the doctor could even attend!

Families relied on their gardens to produce a range of cure-alls and cosmetics to serve all the families needs, and the needs of the servants in their employ. These gardens were dramatically limited by the climate in England, so those plants that did grow were believed to cure a large range of ailments! For this reason, lavender and roses, which were part of every English garden, were included in a lot of cures.

Regency garden remedies

Herbs, fruit and vegetables were collected from the …

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Abbey Museum medieval lamentation

The ‘Lamentation of Christ’ sculpture is revealed

In July, the Museum celebrated a very special occasion with the addition of a spectacular piece to the Abbey Museum collection.  Now firmly in its final home, this sculpture of the Lamentation of Christ places the Abbey Museum as a world-leader in its collection exhibits, bringing Art that would normally only be found in much larger city-funded museums to regional Australia.   The magnificently carved limestone frieze depicting an episode from Christ’s Passion, the Lamentation, dates from the middle ages, weighs close to half a tonne and like all of the Abbey collection pieces, has an incredible story and journey to tell about how it came to it’s rightful resting place in the Abbey Museum’s Manuscript Gallery.

Rejoicing the Lamentation

From subject alone, this sculpture merits reverence as a magnificent art piece depicting the Passion of Christ.  We see the Three Marys anointing the body of the crucified Christ,  watched by two others,  Joseph of Arimathea – whose tomb Jesus’ body occupied – and Nicodemus –  a man who came down from the tree he was hiding in to follow Jesus …

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Finding the Bunyip! – An adventure with the Abbey Museum Friends

There’s nothing better to raise the spirits like a social get together between friends, where connecting and spending time with friends is the order of the day.  But add a mystical creature who may be lurking in swamps and bush to the mix – namely a Bunyip – and we have an adventure!

The Abbey Museum Friends (the membership group that assists in fundraising and supporting the museum) are planning an ‘adventure’  tour of south-eastern Queensland led by the Museum’s Senior Curator Michael Strong.  The tour consists of visiting possible Bunyip sites in the region and examining their cultural significance. Michael has a detailed knowledge of the Aboriginal history of the area and will lead discussion on the various sites visited on the tour, enabling members of the touring party to have a better understanding of the history of the First People in the Gold Coast and Scenic Rim areas.

The Bunyip is a large mythical creature from Australian Aboriginal mythology, said to lurk in swamps, billabongs, creeks, riverbeds, and waterholes. The origin of the word Bunyip has been traced to the …

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Donor King Window in Abbey Museum collection

The “Donor King” has a Name

Visitors to the Abbey Museum may have noticed a stained glass window that was once above the main door has been removed. I can assure you that this is not permanent but just part of the ongoing conservation program of our stained glass windows. This panel depicts a crowned figure holding a covered cup in one hand and a sceptre in the other.  These attributes indicate that it is a king although the identity of the figure was unknown; the catalogue simply records it as “The Donor King” .  However, during conservation of the window new evidence has come to light which is very exciting.  Research has revealed that it was probably part of a much larger window depicting the three Magi (the Three Wise Men or Kings as they are also known) from the Biblical story of the Nativity of Christ.  The window has been badly damaged and conserved a number of times during its history, and sadly the quality of the later work does no justice to the exquisite quality of the original window. Not only is …

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Union Jack flag

The Origin of the Union Jack Flag

The origin of the Union Jack flag

Whilst researching the March saints for a Tabula story, I was diverted into a story about the flag known as the Union Jack. The Union Jack consists of the flag devices of three of the four patron saints of the countries which comprise Great Britain. The feast days of two of these patron saints occur during the month of March and there is another in April. Not only is the Union Jack the official flag of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it also appears included on 31 other flags around the world, including Australia, New Zealand and six flags of the Australian States.

The central feature of the flag is the cross of St George, patron saint of England; behind it is the cross of St Andrew representing Scotland and the cross of St Patrick representing Northern Ireland.  Unluckily for the Welsh, the fourth patron saint, St David of Wales, is not depicted on the Union Jack at all!

St David’s feast day is celebrated on 1st March.  This is considered to be …

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April Fools Day at the Abbey Museum

The Story Behind April Fool’s Day

April Fool’s History

Everyone enjoys a good joke, (whether practical or otherwise) and April 1st or April Fool’s Day is recognised almost universally as the day on which pranks are played. They may be close to home such as sending your brother to find a can of elbow grease so you can shine your shoes or as widely reported as the BBC Panorama report on 1 April 1957 about the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland which had many people asking where they could obtain spaghetti plants themselves.

There are a number of theories about the origin of April 1 being celebrated as April Fool’s Day. The most widely accepted is that it goes back to when the western world adopted the Gregorian calendar in place of the Julian calendar during the 1500s. Under the Julian calendar the year began on March 25; festivals marking the start of the New Year were celebrated on the first day of April as March 25th fell during Holy Week. When the Gregorian calendar was adopted, New Year moved to 1 January. The theory goes …

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