Posts Tagged ‘timeline’

Famous footsteps, incredible journeys: Happy New Darwin Anniversary Year 2011 – 175 years on, and a bit more of our Victorian Time Safari …

January 2, 2011

It’s 175 years this year since Charles Darwin returned to Britain at the end of his five-year voyage, just as the Victorian period was beginning. He had spent his last Christmas 1835 away from home and was heading back in HMS Beagle for the final part of his epic voyage of discovery. He still had much of Australia, New Zealand, Keeling Islands, Mauritius, Cape Town in South Africa, St. Helena, Ascension Island and Brazil (again) to visit before reaching Britain. Many of these countries, especially the islands, mark the anniversary of his famous visit with postage stamps.

By October 2nd, 1836 he would be back on land in Falmouth and heading home by mail coach

Plaque marking spot of Darwin's landfall from HMS Beagle voyage, Oct 2 1836 in Falmouth and his departure home by coach.

A plaque set up by Falmouth Town Council and Falmouth Art Gallery marks the point where he made landfall in Falmouth and waited for the mail coach home. Within a year, a new Queen would be on the throne and a new era of scientific, agricultural and technological revolution begun. Lots of developments had happened in technology and society whilst he had been away, not least the beginnings of railway mania, so that the very coach he travelled on was soon to become obsolete as public transport within his lifetime.

The penny post and Penny Black stamp were only a few years aways in 1840. By the time he died in 1882, telegraph communication was widespread and telephones in their infancy. The first petrol engine vehicles were in development. Cinema experiments were beginning. Iron and steam had replaced wood and sail in modern ships. Darwin lived through an amazing century, which set the pace for the developments since.

There’s a 2009 news story and photos about the Darwin’s landfall plaque in Falmouth  http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/news/falmouth/Plaque-marks-Darwin-landfall/article-1636415-detail/article.html

Sadly since this was put up, Brian Stewart the curator of Falmouth Art Gallery has sadly died in December 2010, much missed by  the Newquay Zoo staff with whom he worked extensively on Darwin 200 activities. Many tributes can be read to his work in the Falmouth Packet newspaper. Newquay Zoo staff were already planning a follow-up to Darwin 200 based around nonsense poet and animal painter Edward Lear’s bicentenary in May 2012.    

Darwin is not the only eminent Victorian to have his landing-place marked in Cornwall. We’ve included it as part of our Victorian Time Safari, looking at the legacy of Darwin’s Victorian times around us. What can you see in your village, town or city from Victorian times?

We spotted this unusual footprint when arriving by boat ferry at St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, that magical castle in the sea that Darwin would have passed on his route into Falmouth just up the coast.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert 's royal visit marked by bronze plaque near her 'footstep' at St. Michaels' Mount, Cornwall (Photo: Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo)

Nearby, Truro station has all the ornate ironwork of a Victorian station still, including its VR Victorian post box. Nearby, Truro station has all the ornate ironwork of a Victorian station still, including its VR Victorian post box. On a recent Dublin trip, we saw a Victorian explorer commemorated not in stamps but in a lifesize bronze statue. What Victorain memorials or  inventions can you find in your area?

Ornate Victorian ironwork, Truro rail station, Cornwall, 2010Ornate decorative Victorian ironwork, Truro rail station, Cornwall, 2010Victorian statue of explorer / surgeon TH Parke from Stanley's expeditions in Africa, outside Dublin Natural History Museum

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Happy 225th birthday, US postal system 26 July 1775

July 26, 2010

Taken / Reposted from the http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history

Welcome to the THIS DAY IN HISTORY daily email from History.com

 July 26 1775 : U.S. postal system established

On this day in 1775, the U.S. postal system is established by the Second Continental Congress, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster general. Franklin (1706-1790) put in place the foundation for many aspects of today’s mail system. During early colonial times in the 1600s, few American colonists needed to send mail to each other; it was more likely that their correspondence was with letter writers in Britain. Mail deliveries from across the Atlantic were sporadic and could take many months to arrive. There were no post offices in the colonies, so mail was typically left at inns and taverns.

 In 1753, Benjamin Franklin, who had been postmaster of Philadelphia, became one of two joint postmasters general for the colonies. He made numerous improvements to the mail system, including setting up new, more efficient colonial routes and cutting delivery time in half between Philadelphia and New York by having the weekly mail wagon travel both day and night via relay teams. Franklin also debuted the first rate chart, which standardized delivery costs based on distance and weight. In 1774, the British fired Franklin from his postmaster job because of his revolutionary activities.

However, the following year, he was appointed postmaster general of the United Colonies by the Continental Congress. Franklin held the job until late in 1776, when he was sent to France as a diplomat. He left a vastly improved mail system, with routes from Florida to Maine and regular service between the colonies and Britain. President George Washington appointed Samuel Osgood, a former Massachusetts congressman, as the first postmaster general of the American nation under the new U.S. constitution in 1789. At the time, there were approximately 75 post offices in the country.

Today, the United States has over 40,000 post offices and the postal service delivers 212 billion pieces of mail each year to over 144 million homes and businesses in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the American Virgin Islands and American Samoa. The postal service is the nation’s largest civilian employer, with over 700,000 career workers, who handle more than 44 percent of the world’s cards and letters. The postal service is a not-for-profit, self-supporting agency that covers its expenses through postage (stamp use in the United States started in 1847) and related products. The postal service gets the mail delivered, rain or shine, using everything from planes to mules. However, it’s not cheap: The U.S. Postal Service says that when fuel costs go up by just one penny, its own costs rise by $8 million.

 American Revolution  1775 : Congress establishes U.S. Post Office

View original post at http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/congress-establishes-us-post-office

Centenary of Florence Nightingale’s Death 13 August 2010: update of ‘Florence Fatigue’ and another Great Victorian on postage stamps: Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole and women scientists on stamps.

May 16, 2010

A 1960s UK stamp featuring Florence Nightingale from my childhood album (in old L-S-D pennies) with a youthful Queen Elizabeth head, much like the Young Victoria!

This Friday 13th sees the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s death on 13 August 1910. Commemorated in many ways  through a Royal Mint £2 coin, a church service on Radio 4  Sunday morning 8th August  2010 (available on I-player) and much press coverage about anniversary events http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2010/07/09/55064/florence-nightingale-centenary-nursing-by-numbers.html 

along with her refurbished museum http://www.florence-nightingale.co.uk/cms/

Visitors to the Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth, where part of Wind in The Willows was written by Kenneth Grahame, can see Florence Nightingale’s signature in the visitor’s book of what was a very popular Victorian hotel for travellers overseas via  the busy Falmouth harbour. http://www.greenbank-hotel.co.uk/falmouth-hotel/14/falmouth+hotel+history.html 

Readers of our Darwin 200 stamp blog will note that much of our Darwin celebrations locally in Cornwall in 2009 focussed on Falmouth, where Darwin made landfall on Oct 2 1836 at the end of the Beagle voyage. A plaque, rather then register entry,  marks the spot as he rapidly left for home by mail coach after five homesick and seasick adventurous years. Darwin and Nightingale in their dogged pursuit of evidence or statistics to support their arguments would have had no doubt a very interesting discussion, had they ever met!  

 Her obituary can be found at http://century.guardian.co.uk/1910-1919/Story/0,,126410,00.html  and an interesting research blog at http://www.florence-nightingale-avenging-angel.co.uk/

Previous Entry May 2010:

Every 12 May around the world is International Nursing Day, baacuse it is also Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Happy 190th birthday Florence.  

This year has extra significance, amazingly it is only 100 years since Florence Nightingale  died on 13 August 2010.

Florence was one of that generation of long-lived famous Victorians who lived well into the Twentieth Century including Alfred Russel Wallace the explorer and evolutionary theorist who died in 1913. Wallace has been mentioned on this blog site with news that you may soon see him on a UK stamp.

One of our recent commenters on the blog asked why we didn’t mention Rosalind Franklin ‘the dark lady of DNA’ when we introduced DNA, Crick and Watson. A trawl through internet stamp sites and Stanley Gibbons catalogues will produce some images of women scientists and engineers who aren’t Marie Curie. (Personally I look forward to a portrait stamp of Hedy Lamarr, featuring a background print of her World War Two patent for torpedo switching gear).

 Not surprisingly the Royal Mail, mints  and postage stamp designers ariound the world have often honoured nurses, Florence Nightingale and occasionally her contemporary Mary Seacole  often over the last 100 years.

http://www.rcn.org.uk/development/rcn_archives/exhibitions/international_postage_stamps/florence_nightingale

http://www.rcn.org.uk/development/rcn_archives/exhibitions/international_postage_stamps/mary_jane_seacole  

2009/10 also marks the 150th anniversary of  her important book Notes on Nursing, based on her experiences in The Crimean War. www.royalmint.com/store/BritishBase/UKFNBU.aspx.  Just as revolutionary in its time and field as Darwin’s Origin of Species, the International College of Nursing ICN  modern edition of Notes on Nursing is still available 150 years later!

As a scientist, Florence is also famous for using Pie charts to present information in persuasive ways, useful for introducing maths to the history curriculum and the ever present role model search for women scientists.

Some primary teachers I know do groan at the name Florence Nightingale as this is currently the examplar famous Victorian person in the current National Curriculum (England and Wales) and some hope the new one due in  2011 is Florence free. http://http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/schemes2/history/his4/?view=get 

Talking to collegues and stall holders at a history teaching conference including the TTS people who have a Florence section http://www.tts-group.co.uk/, some teachers  after many years of teaching Florence were showing signs of ‘Florence Fatigue’. This will hopefully never become a recognisable medical condition.

Examples of creating famous person / Florence Nightingale displays (timelines!) using postage stamps can be seen at: http://fnif.org/,  showing pictures of  the story of Florence Nightingale as an exhibition of stamps at the ICN Congress in Durban by Marilyn Gendek, an Australian nurse and philatelist. 

Country Joe’s site covers statues and other memorails, good for looking at evidence of Victorians in our towns and local areas such as suggested on our Victorian Time safari blog entries last year: http://www.countryjoe.com/nightingale/honors.htm   

http://www.uoguelph.ca/~cwfn/stamps/index.html  

http://www.sma.org.sg/smj/4703/4703ms1.pdf   

is a comprehensive six page long pdf article on Florence Nightingale in stamps.

The Crimean War was marked 150 years on by a recent Royal Mail issue four or five years ago – see the Royal Mail website.   Local regimental museums and the National Army Museum at Chelsea are also good sources for information on this conflict.

There is lots of biographical information on Florence ranging from the BBC, Victorian Web and Wikipedia to the Florence Nightingale Museum

http://www.florence-nightingale.co.uk/

http://www.uoguelph.ca/~cwfn/    her collected works and writings

http://www.victorianweb.org/history/crimea/florrie.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Nightingale

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/nightingale_florence.shtml

Darwin’s birthday 12 February, stamps, teasets, the BBC’s A History of the World in 100 Objects and the new Royal Mail stamps for 2010

January 31, 2010
Charles Darwin young man St helena stamp

Charles Darwin the young Victorian gentleman of science, before the famous beard was established - image taken from a portrait sketch as a young man in the late 1830s around the time of his marriage to Emma Wedgewood and shortly after his return in 1836 from the Voyage of The HMS Beagle, during which he visited the island of St. Helena. Stamp issue 1982, marking 100 years since his death. An attractive border showing 'biodiversity' links this portrait set of Darwin linked 1982 island issue stamps.

“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Charles Darwin …”  Maybe not. Although this tune was late Victorian, it was composed  after Darwin’s death , whilst  the words emerged in the early 20th century. However it’s a chance for a school assembly theme, craft idea or a beautifully designed stamp page: Charles Darwin’s birthday is coming up on Friday 12 February 2010. This is  celebrated each year in Shrewsbury (his birthplace) and in  many unusual ways around the world. Many unusual events are registered at www.darwinday.org  and you can find out more about Darwin on our Blogroll links.  

2010 will see not only the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity (biodiversity being now under threat in  many of the areas Darwin visited) but also the 150th anniversary of the famous Oxford ‘Evolution’ and ‘Creation’  debate between the Victorian church (in the church corner: Bishop Wilberforce) and Victorian Science (in the ‘red in tooth and claw’ corner, not Tennyson but Darwin’s ‘bulldog’ T.H. Huxley). Darwin was, by nature, quite a shy man and wisely working elsewhere! 

The Charles Darwin: A Celebration in Stamps is now published. It is aimed at schools and a copy will be available free to schools on request (while stocks last) but it is also of general interest and can be purchased for £6 (plus p&p). Our Darwin stamp book is available from Sandie Robb at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo or from Mark Norris at Newquay Zoo – see blog entry 25th Nov 2009 for details. 

Charles Darwin the old Victorian gentleman of science, after the famous beard was long established and Darwin was nearing his death- the famous image based on the photograph portrait by pioneer Victorian lady photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Stamp issue 1982, marking 100 years since his death. Darwin passed Mauritius on his Beagle voyage home. Again an attractive border showing 'biodiversity' links this portrait set of Darwin linked island 1982 stamps.

We’d nominate this 1982 stamp series (shown opposite) to join the BBC Radio 4’s series A History of the World in 100 Objects. This  has a fine section on Victorian objects submitted by museums around the country, individuals and an ‘Early Victorian Tea Set’  (for serving early Victorian tea). The Darwin link? The tea set was  designed by Wedgewood, Darwin’s relation by marriage to his cousin Emma Wedgewood. You can see the tea objects in a fabulous new digital museum online at  http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/FWYgWOCSSpKKuF3pctC6tA  There are  plenty more  Victorian objects at http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/explorerflash/?tag=63&tagname=The%20Victorians&/#/culture/63 with lots of other learning resources and even a CBBC website game called Relic : Guardians of the Museum http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/   There are hundreds of fabulous objects on this BBC / British Museum site. Our other zoo blog World War Zoo gardens http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com has nominated a child’s ‘wartime handmade sliding puzzle’ toy featured from the 1940s but which could easily have come from the 1840s and the Darwin children’s  nursery.   They still make such sliding toys in plastic and still make tea sets much like the early Victorians – some objects do not change design or purpose very quickly, others rapidly become obsolete or extinct. 

Finally, it’s 175 years this year since Darwin visited the Galapagos islands in 1835.  Whilst there are no Darwin stamps for  2010 from the Royal Mail (2009 saw a fine ‘jigsaw’ set for Darwin’s bicentenary),  we need time to catch up with all the Darwin 200 bicentenary issue stamps and Galapagos visit anniversary from elsewhere around the world! There are  plenty of new thematic or commemorative releases by the Royal Mail. These  include Children’s literature, the Royal Society, Railways, Mammals and others which may feature Victorian subjects, science or animals. Unusually the centenary of Florence Nightingale’s death in 2010 is not obviously commemorated (but there are Florence Nightingale Royal Mail issues from the past). For more stamp collecting information, to inspire you to set up a stamp club in school or collect yourself  http://www.royalmail.com/portal/stamps/content1?catId=32300678&mediaId=32600692 

New Releases 2010 http://www.royalmail.com/portal/stamps/jump1?catId=32200669&mediaId=32300674  

7th January – Classic Album Covers – 
26th January – Smilers 2010  –
2nd February – Girl Guiding UK –
25th February – The Royal Society
11th March – Battersea Dogs & Cats
13th April – Mammals (Action for Species 4)
6th & 8th May – London 2010 Festival of Stamps
13th May – Britain Alone
*15th June – House of Stuarts
27th July – The London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games
19th August – Musicals
16th September – Great British Railways
*12th October – Children’s Books
2nd November – Christmas
*New issue date for this Special Stamp Issue 

Happy stamp collecting! Happy Darwin’s birthday on the 12th!

Postman (or woman) in the family tree?

January 11, 2010

The recent  edition of Your Family Tree magazine NO. 85 had a fabulous article on tracing postmen and Post Office links in your family tree http://www.yourfamilytreemag.co.uk/ with some fascinating facts about how the postal service developed throughout the Victorian period and how many of us are likely to have postmen or women in the family some time in the past. lots of excellent links and ideas

Lots of this (and how to search Local History records, census returns etc.) would be very useful in the classroom especailly covering local history for the primary curriculum.  

Lark Rise to Candleford, the trilogy of books based on her life by Flora Thompson featured the footslogging approach to being a country postman or postwoman. The series is now out on DVD, a good way of giving an insight into the hard work involved in an everyday Victorian invention, the penny postal system.

Christmas post and gingerbread postmen from the Darwin 200 Stamp Zoo team

December 21, 2009

Sweet talk, toy soldiers and postage stamps  

Happy Christmas and holidays from the Darwin Stamp Zoo team.   

Victorian Christmas toys (for boys?) Kipling's red coated Soldiers of The Queen and Empire, zoo keepers (original lead W. Britains and modern versions) and Victorian Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry (volunteer) badges. Look carefully for khaki suited soldiers, camouflage adapted from animals. Newquay Zoo's Victorian Life collection, displayed on Darwin's Big Beard Birthday Bash weekend, February 2009Homecast 54mm traditional toy soldier 'modern' versions of these toys can be made using Prince August moulds.

Seasonal tips 

Much of our Modern Christmas dates back to Victorian times and Mr Dickens. Darwin is known to have read early Dickens books with his young wife Emma. Darwin was very much a family man, and loved playing with his children. (Read Annie’s Box by Randal Keynes and weep!) He was far from the stern, strict, distant , dictatorial Victorian dad we typecast Victorian men as being.

As well as collecting Christmas stamps and Christmas cards (invented by Henry Cole in the 1840s) you could spend your Christmas telling  or reading ghost stories, watch a Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens at the cinema (invented by Victorians) or  look out for Oliver! on television. There are  Cranford Christmas specials (Victorian 1840s Northern life by Mrs. Gaskell) or the wonderful BBC Victorian Farm series of Christmas specials.

As with Darwin, there are lots of stamp issues of Dickens and a bicentenary coming up in 2012. Another chance to use the Darwin stamp book resource and teaching tips – Dickens and Darwin  make a fascinating comparison timeline of rich and poor. 

To keep busy at Christmas, three ideas from the Darwin Stamp Zoo team  

adapted from the DFEE / DCSF parents as partners leaflets  

Recipe and ideas adapted  by the Darwin 200 stamp zoo team from http:// www.parents.dfee.gov.uk/discover (original weblink sadly no longer available) 

That’s entertainment 

Victorian children didn’t have radios, TVs, videos or computers – they had to make their own entertainment. Your child might be surprised how many familiar toys and games date back to Victorian times. 

Street games were popular with poorer Victorian children, including hopscotch, football and clapping and skipping games. Middle-class children played with hobby-horses, dolls, toy soldiers, and paints and wax crayons. Board games like ‘Ludo’ and ‘Snakes and Ladders’ were also well-liked.

 

Why don’t you and your child have a Victorian games day? Try managing without any modern forms of entertainment and play with more traditional toys and games.  

  • What did you both enjoy most about the day?
  • What did you find difficult?

 Victorian homes 

Many people in Victorian times lived in homes without any of the modern comforts we take for granted today. People had to manage without central heating or hot water from the tap – instead they had open fires and heated water on a big cooker called a range. Without vacuum cleaners or washing machines, looking after the home was very hard work. 

Help your child to imagine what it would have been like to live in Victorian times. 

How would they like to have a bath in a metal tub in front of the kitchen fire? 

What would it be like to have to go to the toilet outside after dark? 

How would they like playing with toy soldiers instead of computer games? Would they enjoy having to do some sewing instead of watching T V ? 

 Go around the house with your child and make a list of all the things that Victorian families wouldn’t have had. Then talk with them about what people in Victorian times might have used to do the same job.

 

Sweet Talk 

Richer Victorian housewives had plenty of different types of food to choose from and some famous recipe books to help them – one of the best known was by Mrs Beeton. 

Here is a Victorian recipe for Gingerbread Men – a treat still enjoyed by children today. Why don’t you try making this? 

Darwin Stamp Zoo’s Recipe for GINGERBREAD POST MEN or GINGERBREAD DARWINS 

You need: 

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • a knob of butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • raisins/candied peel
  • icing (optional)

1. Heat the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4). 

2. Mix everything except the raisins/peel in a bowl. 

3. When the ingredients have come together into a solid mixture, roll it out onto a floured surface. 

4. Cut into shapes using a gingerbread cutter. How about postmen, square postage stamps, pillar boxes, letters and other Victorian shapes or images? 

5. Use the raisins and peel to make eyes and noses. 

6. Bake the biscuits on a greased tray for 10 to 15 minutes. 

7. When cool,  eat or decorate with icing (optional). A nice white beard for Mr Darwin perhaps. 

 To avoid suitably Victorian hygiene and health and safety issues and avoid  a trip to your local hospital (probably established in Victorian times), be careful when working with hot ovens and baking trays. 

Clean your hands before cooking and eating. You’re not a Victorian street urchin! 

Happy Christmas!

A Victorian time safari … stamps and the secrets of cheap time travel revealed!

December 10, 2009
the stamp that started it all - the Penny Black of 1840, Young Queen Victoria's head

the stamp that started it all - the Penny Black of 1840, Young Queen Victoria's head

1837 – the year that Charles Darwin was writing up his notes of the Beagle voyage, having arrived home from  a five-year round the world trip a few months before. 

1837 – the year that an eighteen year old Princess Alexandra Victoria became Queen. 

1837 – the year that Rowland Hill wrote a pamphlet on Post Office Reform: Its Importance and Practicality which was successful enough to lead to the world’s first penny postage stamp service in 1840 and the Penny Black. It shows the head of the young Queen Victoria, as did the coinage very different from the ‘Old Queen’s Head’  seen in photographs, late Victorian pennies, statues and pub signs. Sandie Robb posted some pictures of Victorian coins in a previous blog. 

You can see the same ageing gracefully with our current monarch Queen Elizabeth II if you find pre-decimal coins (from your Britain in the 1960s history project), stamps from the 1950s and 60s compared to the more mature Queen’s portrait head now shown.   

Stamps and commemoratives are very much about then and now, great for comparison, dating and timeline activities in class. 

Reproduction coins from Westair are good but not as atmospheric as  real Victorian objects such as pennies, even penny reds and penny blacks are not that expensive or difficult to track down for the classroom or school history collection. Check through E-bay, charity and junk shops or stamp   dealers;  a well spent £10 to £20 can pick up some useful originals that children can see and in the case of coins, handle. Victorian stamps are a bit more fragile and the inks less light permanent than modern ones. 

Some more teaching tips 

There is something intangible, exciting, magical even about handling old and historic objects, however ordinary. It gives the chance to let the imagination enter history lessons – who might have handled that Victorian penny? Posted that Victorian stamp? 

1. The story of a stamp or penny, Victorian style 

What letter might that Victorian stamp have come from, who wrote it and what news did it contain? 

Was it on a postcard, another Victorian invention or the Christmas card (first invented 1843)? 

 How was it delivered? By whom? 

Early Green Victorian pillar box from UK Royal Mail stamp series

Which post box or pillar box (which had to be invented, like the letter box in front doors)? Some VR postboxes still exist in older areas of town and country. 

What streets did it pass down? 

Over what surfaces underfoot? 

Past what type of transport? 

Into what type of building or shop? 

How was the building and the street lit? What kind of people’s pockets might it have passed through (or been stolen from)? Many local museums and art galleries in towns and cities like our local Darwin 200 partners http://www.falmouthartgallery.com and Penlee House http://www.penleehouse.org.uk/ have fabulously atmospheric Victorian paintings of street scenes and seaside promenades such as ‘The Rain It Raineth Everyday’. (Not much changes in Cornwall – I love the figure of the rain-caped Victorian bobby as one of my ancestors was just such a Victorian policeman in Penzance where this is painted, see  http://www.penleehouse.org.uk/collections/item/PEZPH:1989.61.html ).  

 The best paintings  by painter W.P. Frith (1819-1909) give a colourful picture of Victorian life at the races, railway stations, post offices and seaside including ‘Ramsgate Sands’  from Queen Victoria’s collection http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/eGallery/maker.asp?maker=11716&object=405068&row=1 and the V&A’s Derby Day (1858) sketches http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O132987/oil-painting-sketch-for-the-derby-day/   You can more web-zoomable paintings by Frith for use in class at http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/frith_william_powell.html 

 Many photographs (Victorian invention alert!) of local areas can be found online http://www.francisfrith.com/ from the Francis Frith collection, a pioneering Victorian photographer (1822-1898 )http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Frith

Prints of these paintings and photos  are available. These would prove a good classroom focus for thinking about the different types of people, clothes, jobs, wealth, childhood shown or portrayed. In whose (picked) pockets would that Victorian coin of yours be? Who would have written the letter posted with your stamp? 

Creative writing and drama can easily come out of a display using drama techniques such as hot-seating, freeze-frame, role-play and speech bubbles. There are some good drama idaes on teaching websites such as http://www.dramateachers.co.uk/ and http://www.free-teaching-resources.co.uk/drama.shtml 

2. Victorian Time safaris 

You can become a time detective (detectives were a Victorian invention, and although not invented but popularised in the 1880s by Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes)  and go on Victorian safari round your town and look at what survives, especially above shop front level; many grand Victorian buildings are under threat for development around the country. The Victorian Society fights for their protection and continued use, including the very schools that Victorians built after the Education reforms of 1870 http://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/ (not to be confused with the Victorian Military Society and its re-enactors of Victorian soldiering, http://www.thediehards.co.uk that you might meet at Living History events. They might even visit schools!) 

We’ll put more ideas on going out of the classroom inspired by Darwin, your stamp or coins (many zoos are signed up to the Learning outside the Classroom manifesto and quality badging http://www.lotc.org.uk/ ) in future blogs. 

3. Then and Now 

In the case of Victorian pennies, many of these are smoothed almost to obliteration from decades of use and service. What changes they must have seen until decimal coins of today came in at the end of the 1960s? 

You could update your street or seaside scene / display / creative writing/ drama piece to the modern-day with some fast forwards, zooms and cheap imaginative time travel in the classroom. 

The Victorians would approve, being great pioneers of science fiction, ranging from Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, writer of the Time Machine to Conan Doyle.

The Victorians are not dead and gone! Celebrating the big and bearded Victorian Icons – from Darwin to Lear, a Future Festival of Nonsense

December 3, 2009

Edward Lear's wit and works illustrated on a fabulous British UK Royal Mail 1988 issue

 

As Darwin 200 year comes to a close, Newquay Zoo is already talking to old friends and seeking new partners for Lear Year, a Festival of Nonsense in 2012 to celebrate another bearded Victorian icon, Edward Lear (1812-1888).  Best known as a nonsense poet of limericks and The Owl and The Pussycat, he is less well-known as a travel writer, zoological and landscape painter who had commissions to illustrate part of  Darwin’s Voyage of The Beagle book. 

Watch this space for more details or contact Mark Norris at Newquay Zoo for more news of this nonsense.  

Only one set of stamps celebrating Edward Lear exist that I know of, issued in Britain in 1988, a little different from the hundreds of beautiful Darwin thematic or commemorative stamps produced over the last 100 years. Darwin is featured on more stamp issues worldwide than anyone else except the Royal family.    

Celebrating Lear’s life and works at Newquay Zoo in 2012, we’re trying to make up in a small way for the disastrous few weeks Lear spent not painting or walking much in Cornwall and Devon because it rained “for fifteen days” according to Lear. It’s not raining at the moment here. 

Teaching tips 

A timeline of Charles Darwin  and / or Edward Lear’s life and times, illustrated with stamps at important dates (using scans of stamps) would be a good classroom display.   

The Victorians invented  from 1837 to 1901 penny postage and postage stamps as we know them today.  Victorian life, times, writers, travellers, explorers, inventors  and scientists  remain a popular primary school History curriculum topic .  A section on postal history is included in our stamp book Charles Darwin: A Celebration in Stamps.   

It’s fair to say that the Victorians are not dead and have not gone away – they exist in the houses and cities we live in, the cemeteries, museums, galleries, railways and bridges we use today worldwide.  They also developed many zoos and botanic gardens and invented the aquarium. Many late Victorian children carried on active work into the 1960s and 1970s, assuming they survived the slaughter of the First World War.  Some of our oldest centenarians alive today were born under Queen Victoria and many of our senior citizens were the children of Victorian parents. 

A.N. Wilson’s highly readable history book The Victorians is a good thick paperback introduction to the period; there is beautiful illustrated version available too. 

It’s nice to have an alternative to the usual figure  of Florence Nightingale, celebrating the centenary of her death in 2010. Are there stamps of the ‘other’ Florence Nightingale, nurse Mary Seacole? We’ll have look out for some. 

Recent Royal Mail stamps were issued in Britain of many Victorian figures ranging from writers to explorers and engineers such as Brunel bicentenary in 2006 (www.brunel200.org), early pioneering photographs of the Crimean War Victoria Cross winners, Darwin and also the anniversary of many organisations and societies. 

More in future blogs about Lear and Darwin, as well as using stamps to educate and inspire. 

Cornish and Scottish schools who wish to have one of our Darwin limited edition stamp books free for educational use can contact Sandie Robb at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo srobb@rzss.org.uk or Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo mark.norris@newquayzoo.org.uk. This is funded by the SPTA and ASPS, with a bequest for youth stamp work by the late Beryl Rennie. 

Others interested in these books can contact Sandie Robb at the above RZSS address, cost £6 and £2 P&P although as all proceeds go to conservation and further wildlife stamp work, we will happily accept larger donations. You might even get your copy signed by one of us! 

Happy stamping!

150 years since Darwin published his Origin of Species: our new Charles Darwin: A Celebration in Stamps book arrives

November 22, 2009

Stamps, postmen, writing technology ( Victorian laptop!) and beautiful copperplate handwritten letters, Newquay Zoo's archive collection of Victorian life, Darwin's 200th Birthday launch weekend, February 2009, Newquay Zoo

24th November 1859 – 150 years ago this week, Darwin’s world-changing  book On The Origin Of Species is sold out , a bestseller in its first week. To commemorate this book and as part of , 200 copies of Charles Darwin: A Celebration in Stamps arrive from the printers to Edinburgh Zoo and Newquay Zoo. Watch this space for more news about this publication, designed for educational use in schools.

Meanwhile you could spend a whole lesson looking at the objects in the photo and how they have changed, evolved, been redesigned, updated (or in the case of the hand written love poem, not!)

Watching the extinction of the Royal Mail? Charles Darwin, postal history, Postman Pat and a speedy exit from Cornwall

October 26, 2009
The Devonport mail coach of 1837 on a postcard from the Post Office Collection  / National Postal Museum above the Bath mail coach of 1784 featured on a UK stamp in my Proof reading copy  of Charles Darwin: A Celebration in Stamps

The Devonport mail-coach of 1837 on a postcard from the Post Office Collection / National Postal Museum above the Bath mail-coach of 1784 featured on a UK stamp in my proof-reading copy of Charles Darwin: A Celebration in Stamps

 

The postal strike has featured much in the news recently with some papers predicting the extinction of the Royal Mail.

Ironically one part of our forthcoming Edinburgh Zoo  RZSS / Newquay Zoo  collaboration on a Darwin stamp book features a section (especially useful for teachers) on postal history with lots of links to different resource websites. Darwin relied on the post for a link with his family and many correspondents on the Packet ships, the early postal system before Queen Victoria, Rowland Hill and the Penny Post which saw the Penny Black invented in 1840 just after Darwin returned from his famous HMS Beagle voyage in 1836.

An old friend Jo Butts gave me this postcard of the Devonport mail-coach  1837 years ago from the Post Office Collection / National Postal Museum in London. Luckily I rediscovered it in time for Darwin’s bicentenary year this year for display at Newquay Zoo, supporting the four unusual and thought-provoking Darwin 200 art exhibitions at Falmouth Art Gallery this year.

The painting shows the Devonport mail-coach driving through snowstorms in 1837, the year after Darwin’s arrival at Falmouth, Cornwall on October 2, 1836 and swift departure on the mail-coach home to Shrewsbury over two and a half days. Despite its Christmas card appearance (another Victorian invention), this  postcard of a painting ‘after James Pollard 1837’ gives a vivid  idea what winter mail-coach travel in the West country of the 1830s might have been like around the time that Queen Victoria came to the throne!

Darwin’s comments on the long coach journey home and his coach companions are recorded in his Beagle diary,  available www.darwin-online.org.uk which, along with www.darwinproject.ac.uk , make Darwin’s writings and letters available and accessible online.

Teaching tips:

Victorians, postage and Darwin feature in primary school National Curriculum History topics, as well as Victorian discoveries and  inventions in Science, Design and Technology

Teachers might consider with pupils in what other ways people communicate today, as well as posted letters, compared to Darwin’s time. 

What evolution of everyday  technology has replaced handwritten letter post since 1837?

How might Postman Pat (or his Victorian great great great Grandfather) have delivered Darwin’s letters then? Today his vehicles now extend past Victorian steam trains to helicopters and motorbikes as seen on www.postmanpat.com!  (N.B. other children’s television characters are available). 

Some of these communication methods have now become extinct or obsolete themselves such as Morse Code and telegraphs (see the website of the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum in Cornwall http://www.porthcurno.org.uk/ for more about the ‘Victorian Internet’ as it was called).

Teachers might also consider how post is delivered today instead of by horse and coach, an example of evolving technology. The old out of print Ladybird book of  The Postman is a good source of colourful illustrations of postmen for use in class – easily available on E-Bay!

A postal timeline is a useful way to show this as a display, alongside Darwin’s life time line. It makes a pleasant change from studying Florence Nightingale!