A silver mug made by Alexander Pulford of Chester in the late Stuart period. It is quite rare, as only four pieces of silver work by Alexander Pulford survive, and only two other silver mugs from this period in Chester are known.
We can work out when silver pieces were made by using small marks called ‘hallmarks’ that are found on the surface. Each hallmark gives us a different piece of information: the quality of the silver, the date it was made, the place it was made, and who made it.
This is a small bronze figurine of the Roman god, Cupid.
According to myth, Cupid was the son of Mercury, the winged messenger god, and Venus, the goddess of love. Cupid is a god of love, desire, attraction and affection, and is often seen with a bow and arrow that represent the source of his power: anyone shot by one of Cupid’s arrows was filled with uncontrollable love and desire. He is often shown as a chubby baby, but was also portrayed as a young man.
This is what was known as a flat iron, used in Victorian times to remove creases from clothes. It is the ancestor of our modern electric irons, and they all get their name from the fact that these Victorian irons were made from solid cast iron.
Flat irons would be heated by being placed near or above open fires, or being put directly on top of a kitchen range (cooker). They were often used in pairs so that one could be used while another was heated up, and then they were switched around when the first one cooled down.
Being solid iron, they were pretty heavy and made ironing quite hard work.
The Anglo-Saxons made combs out of bone and antler. This small Saxon bone comb was found in Foregate Street, Chester. It is discoloured due to the bronze pins used in its construction. One side would have been used for usual combing, the other side for searching for lice. Combs are quite commonly found on Anglo-Saxon archaeological sites, which suggests that they looked after their appearance and hygiene.
This porcelain punch bowl was made in Canton, China by a potter called Syng Chong. It was made for Thomas Cholmondeley (which is where the bowl gets its name from), probably to celebrate his election as M.P. for Cheshire in 1796. The outside of the bowl has the Cholmondeley (pronounced ‘Chumley’) coat of arms, and the centre of the bowl is decorated with a pagoda (a tiered tower common in China).
Punch is a type of mixed drink, which originally came from India and was brought back to England by sailors in the early 17th century CE.
A Bronze Age stone axe from Frodsham, Cheshire. Stone axes were made by the first farmers in Britain around 3500 BCE. Bigger axes like this would have been used for heavy duty tasks like felling trees to clear land for grazing animals and growing crops.
Leather shoes excavated from medieval tanning pits in Love Street, Chester.
Tanning is the process of treating skins of animals to produce leather. In medieval Chester, producing leather goods was one of the main industries. The jobs available included skinners, tanners, glovers, shoemakers and saddlers. Tanning and leather working were important enough to be among the earliest crafts to develop guilds, which were associations of artisans and merchants who oversaw their trade in a particular area. Tanning was a very smelly process, and the work was often done by poorer people on the outskirts of towns.
A medieval jug from Ashton, Cheshire. It is decorated with three large crosses, the ends of which are impressed with a circular stamp.
This heavy leather cavalry boot with spur is thought to have been found shortly after the siege of Chester (1644-1646) during the English Civil War (1642-1651). During the war, Chester remained loyal to the king, Charles I, and was important to the Royalists because of its location on the River Dee. This meant that it came into conflict with Parliamentarian forces fighting against the king, and after a 16 month siege, Chester was finally captured by the Parliamentarians. The city suffered a lot during the siege, and many buildings were damaged or destroyed.
This helmet belonged to a soldier fighting for the Parliamentarian forces during the English Civil War (1642-1651). Parliamentarians were also known as Roundheads because of the short haircut that some of them wore, in contrast to the fashionable long-haired wigs worn by many of the Royalists (supporters of King Charles I). It was originally an insulting nickname, and in the New Model Army (created by the Parliamentarians) you could be punished for calling a fellow soldier a Roundhead.
An antefix is a type of Roman roof tile. They were put on the ends of rooves to hide and protect joints between other tiles.
For wealthy households, antefixes would be highly decorated and could feature images of people, mythological figures or animals. In Chester, we find antefixes with boars on them, and stamps of LEGXXVV. This stands for the 20th Legion Valeria Victirx, the name of a specific legion from the Roman army that was based in Chester for over 300 years (‘LEG’ = Legion, ‘XX’ = 20, ‘VV’ = Valeria Victrix). The boar was the emblem of this legion.
This large dish celebrates the marriage of Filep Heues and Elesabath Heues (Philip and Elizabeth Hughes), and was made by a well-known Staffordshire potter Thomas Toft.
Thomas Toft and his family are known for large, heavily decorated plates, and work in this style is known as Toft ware, even if it is made by other makers.
Slipware is a kind of pottery that is decorated with a mixture of coloured clay and water called slip.