What is Enlightenment! Derbyshire?

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 Enlightenment! Derbyshire Setting the Pace in the Eighteenth Century was a 5 year HLF ‘Collecting Cultures’ project that ran from 2008 – 2013.  It was a partnership between Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Strutt’s North Mill in Belper and Derby Museums. Over the last five years we have been buying objects to add to our museum collections.  We were interested (and still are) in objects that help to tell the story of Derbyshire from 1702 – 1914.  This was a period when Derbyshire was one of the most forward thinking places in the world; a place where the foundations for modern society were laid down and where the blueprint of factory production was created at Richard Arkwright’s (1732 – 92) Cromford Mill.  All this led to the Derwent Valley Mills being inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
 
We’ve had a great time buying over 100 objects at auctions, from dealers and on Ebay.  Purchases include letters written by Joseph Wright, barometers made by John Whitehurst and a painting by William Marlow.  Some objects cost a couple of quid while others ran into the tens of thousands – here we must give a huge thank you to all the grant giving agencies that helped us out! This blog was an experiment and Buxton Museum’s first attempt at blogging.  It has been a lot of fun and instead of terminating it at the end of the project, we’ve decided to keep it going.  It will continue to focus on 18th and 19th century Derbyshire and compliments Buxton Museum’s sister blog ‘Collections in the Landscape’.  YCBA 
 
It is mainly updated by Anna Rhodes, Assistant Collections Officer at Buxton Museum, although we hope to get some guest bloggers involved too.  If you would like to add an article to the blog or have any questions then please get in touch anna.rhodes@derbyshire.gov.ukHLF logo
 
 
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14 Responses to What is Enlightenment! Derbyshire?

  1. Keith Hardwick says:

    Hi
    I am fascinated by your project. I only found out about it from a copy of World Heritage News, Issue 10, passed to me by my brother who lives near Chesterfield. I moved away to Merseyside many years ago.

    I wish you well with your aims to collect historic items connected with Derbyshire’s role in the age of Scientific Discovery. I am interested as a ‘Derbyshire lad’; as a retired University Scientist and as a – very smalltime! – collector of timepieces. If I come across items which might be of interest to you and your project, I shall not hesitate to get in touch.

    Best wishes

    Keith Hardwick

    • Hello Keith,

      Thank you for your interest in the Project. If you do hear of any items that we might be interested in then please let us know. Also if you want to email me (anna.rhodes@derbyshire.gov.uk) your postal address then I can make sure that the next issue of the World Heritage News is forwarded to you – as a ‘Derbyshire lad’ it should contain a lot to interest you. We are always happy to hear feedback on the project so please keep in touch.

      Thanks
      Anna

  2. David Lucas says:

    My wife anf I really enjoyed the exhibition around Joseph Wright. We visited 3 May. I recall reading a history of the Darwin family, including Eramus Darwin, also in the Lunar Society. We also went round the Time exhibition, which we enjoyed.

    • I am glad that you both enjoyed the ‘Faces in the Crowd’ exhibition and out Time Tunnel. We have a changing exhibition and events programme at Buxton Museum so do come back soon to see what else we’ve got on.

  3. Joanne Morris says:

    I would like to say how interesting I found The Strutts and Innovation Exhibition that was held at the Strutt Centre between April 20th and May 2nd. I know that there was an awful lot of hard work put in to the exhibition and it was fully appreciated. I’ve had an interest in Belper and Milford for genealogy research for both myself and friends. I hadn’t before fully appreciated how big the mill complex had been in Milford. It really is a village that wouldn’t exist without the Strutt family.
    The school photo’s were interesting, the items on display wonderful and the nailers shop and Strutt Office were so well set up-the mouse house included!
    I’d like to thank everyone for their hard work and hope we can see more exhibitions in the future. I also went along to the North Mill to view the bowl and token. It’s amazing how these items have survived the years in between being produced and now, and fabulous that they could be shown off in the area where they were produced.
    Thank you again!

    • Thank you for comment, I have passed it on to the staff and volunteers at Belper North Mill and I know they will be delighted that you enjoyed the exhibition. Hundreds of volunteer hours went into making it so your feedback is very much appreciated.

      As you say, it is amazing that so many items have survived. As part of the Enlightenment! project Belper North Mill have (very) recently purchased a Strutt stationary box. It is remarkable that this has survived in such good condition and we are all very happy with the purchase. I will add some photos of our newest acquisitions very soon.

  4. john clayton says:

    Hello, I was really pleased to come across your work via World Heritage News magazine. As an ex Chesterfield Grammer School boy and interested amateur in the history of Derbyshire it is good to see such a worthwhile project thriving in these difficult times. I hope you have lots of success finding art and artefacts of relevance.

  5. john says:

    Brilliant work you are doing in these times when heritage is being forced onto the back burner through cuts, I hope that the project goes from strength to strength and that your search for artefacts is fruitful. shall be visiting the exhibition in Buxton soon – am looking forward to it

  6. Thanks for the comment John. The project has been great for us and it is brilliant to have so many ‘good news stories’ as we are very aware of the situation facing many museums. We are planning a programme of Enlightenment! exhibitions next year, starting of in Feb at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. The exhibition will showcase all (well almost all) of the purchases that the project has made. I’ll post more info about them very soon.

  7. I am a keen photographer who is interested in your advert ‘Snapper needed to photograph items’. I am a successful photographer who has graduated with a degree from Derby University, I’m a local girl with my own transport and have worked many events in the last few years both by myself as well as working part of a team. How would I go about applying for this incredible position?
    Thanks very much and I look forward to your reply

  8. Good evening
    My name is Melissa Little and I am enquiring about your advert in the Derby Telegraph about a photographer needed to take pictures of items. I have qualified with a degree from Derby university where I studied commercial photography, I am a local girl with my own transport and the ability to work well individually as well as in a group.
    How would one go about applying for this incredible position?
    Kind regards

  9. Hello Melissa,

    Sorry for the late reply, I was struck down with the lurgy and am only just back at work today. The details for the Photography contract are on the Source Derbyshire website – http://www.sourcederbyshire.co.uk/contracts/show/id/7696

    If you are interested then you need to request further details and info on how to apply from Ros Westwood (her details can be found on Source Derbyshire).

    Hope this helps,
    Anna

  10. Steve Talbot says:

    I was recently in Prague and came across an amazing painting in the National Gallery.
    Peter Perez and his Wife by Joseph Wright and but could not help but wonder how such a painting ended up in Bohemia? Of course I had to do some research. I knew the work of Joseph Wright but had only come across Perez in passing in reference to the Lunar Society. Turns out to be an amazing character with Derbyshire credentials. There needs to be a book about him. Does anyone have suggestions for more source material? I am the Operations Manager for the People’s History Museum in Manchester and am a practicing artist currently being inspired by Enlightenment and particularly the English Industrial Enlightenment of Matthew Boulton, Erasmus Darwin and the Lunar Society. Ps. I also collect Porcelain tea bowls from the Liverpool Factories of the Eighteenth Century. We have that amazing tie up between the Industrial Midlands and the new money and enterprise of Liverpool.
    Cheers
    Steve

  11. Pingback: Station to Station walk: Matlock Bath to Cromford | Collections in the Landscape

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