DEN Project

Manor House Museum, Kettering

Today I went to Kettering’s Manor House Museum. I met with Clare Bowyer who had kindly contacted me to say that the museum had some nature notebooks and other materials from Kettering naturalist W.J. Mayes which may be of interest to the climate change project. The material dates from the 1920s-50s and is currently kept in storage at Manor House Museum. W. J. Mayes, a member of Kettering and District Naturalists Society and Field Club, published his ‘Nature Notes’ column in the Kettering Leader and Guardian for many years and kept each piece in a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings. The columns record the timing of many natural events, for example the first appearance of many different species with the passing of the seasons, and also frequently make mention to the current local weather conditions, and nature/weather lore. Headlines include: ‘Butterflies herald summer’s approach’, The sun was the signal’, ‘May blossom’, ‘Music of the birds dies away’, ‘Autumn – season that colours the countryside’, ‘Floods brought disaster to wildlife’, ‘Skylarks and thrushes join robins in song’, ‘Like magic nature lays on her spring parade’, ‘Rooks are building high – fine summer coming?’, ‘Inland gulls do not foretell bad weather’, and many more! This is the first phenology diary I have found in the East Midlands’ Museums but I will now be looking out for more! Thank you very much to Clare for providing me with access to the notebooks.

Elsewhere, the museum has a woolly rhinoceros skull and upper jaw with teeth, and a mammoth tooth, the fossilised remains of the Kettering ichtyyosaur(!), and axe heads and other ice age tools in the ‘clues to the past’ gallery. The museum has a local focus and includes displays on Kettering market place, Rockingham Forest, the railway, town traders, the history of the museum, the growth of Kettering town and the shoe making industry. The shoe display includes examples of the boots manufactured for the Everest assault of 1953.

W. J. Moyes

W. J. Mayes

 
 

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