Monday, March 19, 2012

Objects and their stories

These objects from our collections are all currently on display at Drury Lane Library, and will eventually be displayed at Wakefield's new museum.

They all have names on them, which give us tantalising clues about their past, but pose lots of new questions! 

Do you have any of the answers?


      Loving cup, 1802
A loving cup decorated with floral patterns, woodworking tools and inscribed ‘John & Ann Smith Wakefield 1802’.   

This cup may have been made to celebrate their marriage. Can you guess what kind of job John Smith might have had?  What sort of things could have been pictured to represent Ann?  Would Ann have had any sort of trade, or worked in service before marriage?

      Pot, 1845
Decorated with floral patterns and inscribed ‘Joseph & Elizabeth Robinson Wakefield 1845’

We think this pot may have been made as a writing set.  What do you think it was made for?

Cup and saucer, 1862
Decorated with a posy design and inscribed ‘Charlotte Harrap Born Jan 14th 1862’. Records show that a Charlotte Harrap was baptised on the 27th January 1862 and her parents were William (a farmer labourer) and Harriet Harrap who lived on Westgate Common.  

What happened to Charlotte?  Was this cup ever used, or just kept as an ornament?

      Jug, around 1790
This jug was made in Ferrybridge by Ralph Wedgewood. It is decorated with the crest of the Friendly Society of Cordwainers of England and inscribed ‘John Taylor’. A cordwainer makes shoes and this society was an early type of trade union. Records reveal that a cordwainer from Silkstone called John Taylor took on an apprentice in 1808. 

Is this his jug?  

Loving cup, 1794
Decorated with garlands and inscribed ‘Thos. Rishworth 1794’. Thomas Rishworth was a local banker and served as Chief Constable of Wakefield in 1805. This cup may have been made to celebrate the birth of the first of his eleven children in 1794 or at the start of his banking career when he was made first clerk of the Wakefield bank Ingram, Kennet and Ingram.  

Which do you think more likely?

This is just a selection of the named objects we have on display in Drury Lane Library.  We are using them to inspire creative writing, as they are great starting points for people's stories.

We would love to hear you thoughts!


  1. Thomas Rishworth was my great times four grandfather, via his son George Townend. From my research into this man's life, I should hazard that he had the cup made to celebrate his accession to the post of first clerk in Ingram Kennet and Ingram. If the lack of filial feeling among the children is any guide to Thomas's paternal sentiments, then I doubt he would have considered the birth of any child of his worth marking in such a manner.

    1. Hi Anne

      Interested in your research, he was also my great times four grandfather, via his son George Townend.

      Kind regards

      Damian Riley

  2. A good place to muse on oil painting in Western art history online, I find, is at this site at There is a huge archive of digital images of artwork now housed in art museums around the world.
    The company makes canvas prints and hand-painted, oil painting reproductions to order, from your selection of images from this big archives.
    It's some resource for art lovers and historians. There are many images of works by famous artists of the past that I have never seen.
    From their home page at, you can browse by the hundreds of artists there, movements in art, art media, historical timeline and even by subject matter. There is much biographical information about the artists.
    I am always fascinated by the way the 19th century English landscape painter, William Turner, used layers of luminous oil paint to recreate his blazing landscapes. Clicking , I find his paintings indexed in a floating 3D gallery at the site.


We would love your comments - though they may take a day or two to appear.