A Token of Childhood

Are the souls of your children of no value? Are you indifferent whether they be damned or saved? They are not too little to die…not too little to go to hell….not too little to go to heaven. And so begins James Janeway’s cheerful book, ‘A Token For Children: An Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and …

The Curious Case of Benjamin Cockayne

By October 1719, Churchwardens Stephen Turpin and John Pimm had had enough of Benjamin Cockayne, the bad boy of Bramcote. For seven years, they had watched with increasing concern his immoral lifestyle, his drunkenness, and his routine abuse of his neighbours. They brought a case against Cockayne to the ecclesiastical authorities and there was no shortage …

Medieval Christmas Mass

It’s entirely possible that the clerk who ripped the pages out of the 15th book of Roman Catholic liturgical music was just old enough to have attended church services in pre-Reformation England, but in truth we don’t know. These parchment leaves, MS 12/6-7, contain parts of masses for Christmas Day and the Feast of St Stephen …

Scary Tales

In the words of her own grand-niece Rosalind Constable, Favell Lee Mortimer wrote “one of the most outspokenly sadistic children’s books ever written” [New Yorker, 1950 – subscription required], yet she topped the Victorian best-seller lists and was well-regarded as an educational author. Today is the 139th anniversary of her death, and the book referred …

Bound for Serampore

Visitors to the Weston Gallery are often prompted to share their personal connections to an exhibition. It’s always wonderful to see people engaged and to know that it’s made an impact in a way that visitor statistics can’t capture. The story one recent visitor shared about the Threads of Empire exhibition was not just his family’s …

Singing from a different Hymn sheet

‘While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night’ is one of the best-known Christmas carols. It is based on the Annunciation to the shepherds, as described in the Gospel of St Luke. An angel appeared to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem and told them of the birth of Jesus in a scene that has …

Fragments of a Saint

Tucked away in a bundle of 17th century natural history illustrations was a single page of comparatively plain-looking handwritten text that was obviously out of place. It began abruptly in the middle of a sentence and the edges were slightly more battered- not surprising, considering it was about 200 years older than the rest of the pages. …

Manuscripts Mysteries: Canada, Cake and Clergymen

The stereotypical, romanticized view of archives is one where researchers delve into a box of yellowed, long-forgotten papers to uncover clues and solve a mystery. But what happens when the boxes present more questions than they answer? For the last few months we’ve been turning to social media in an attempt to find out more …

Doodles and Divinity

This is a guest post by Ashleigh Fowler, student from the School of English. Since November 2014 I have been cataloguing the Ashby de la Zouch Parish Library as one of three student volunteers chosen to work on the collection. The library is, unsurprisingly, largely theological texts with a large helping of classical Greek literature, but …

“Macaroni looks like serpents”: A Victorian arm-chair traveller’s guide to Europe

“Superficial, incomplete, trifling! Such is the true character of this book. Inaccurate we hope it is not…the world, old as she is, would not sit still for her picture.” So begins the 1849 book ‘Near Home, or The Countries of Europe Described’ by Favell Lee Mortimer, nee Bevan (1802-1878). Now almost forgotten, Mortimer wrote 16 …