The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, the museum showed to me…

…a Partridge.

Partridge

You are very unlikely to see a partridge in any sort of tree, let alone a pear tree, as they are definitely short grass ground loving birds.

On the 2nd day of Christmas, the museum showed to me…

…Turtle Doves

Turtle Dove

Sadly Turtle Doves are one of the most strongly declining bird species across Europe since 1980 and are red listed in conservation terms as they are globally threatened.

On the 3rd day of Christmas, the museum showed to me…

…French Hens

French Hen

As well as being the name for a female chicken and other game birds, hen also denotes a female lobster, crab, and salmon.

On the 4th day of Christmas, the museum showed to me…

…Calling birds

Calling bird – a blackbird

It’s possible that this actually refers to a ‘colly’ bird, which is a blackbird, and the name has been corrupted through the years. In England a coal mine is called a colliery and colly or collie is a derivation of this and means black like coal. But blackbirds do sing a lot, so could be ‘calling’ birds anyway.

On the 5th day of Christmas, the museum showed to me

….Gold rings

Medieval gold ring

This medieval gold finger-ring was found in Staffordshire near to Chartley Hall home to the Devereux family. Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner there in 1585 before she was arrested for treason. It’s believed that the owner of the ring was of high status or a member of the nobility, maybe it belonged to Mary herself!

On the 6th day of Christmas, the museum showed to me…

…Geese a-laying

Canada Goose

Geese have been domestic animals for more than 4,000 years. As well as their meat, eggs and down feathers, geese are used as guards as they can be very aggressive.

On the 7th day of Christmas, the museum showed to me…

…Swans a swimming

There are many myths and legends about swans. One of the most enduring is that from ancient Greece of the seduction of Leda by Zeus who visited her disguised as a swan. This seduction resulted in the birth of a child later to become known as Helen of Troy.

On the 8th day of Christmas, the museum showed to me…

…Maids a milking

Cow creamer modeled with milk maid

The museum has 667 of these cow creamers in our collection. Produced as milk jugs during the Victorian period, the hollow legs of the cow were a magnet for bacteria and cases of food poisoning were reported!

On the 9th day of Christmas, the museum showed to me…

…Ladies dancing

These dancing Spanish ladies were painted by artist Dame Laura Knight in 1923.

On the 10th day of Christmas, the museum showed to me…

…Lords a Leaping

Frog Mug

We haven’t got any leaping lords but we do have these frog mugs. Produced as a practical joke the frogs are hollow and if drinking from one of these down your local pub whilst slightly inebriated you would think that a live frog had entered the vessel and was ‘spitting’ at you!

On the 11th day of Christmas, the museum showed to me…

…Pipers piping

Staffordshire figure of a bagpiper

During the expansion of the British Empire, spearheaded by British military forces that included Highland regiments, the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe became well-known worldwide. This surge in popularity was boosted by large numbers of pipers trained for military service in World War I and World War II.

On the 12th day of Christmas, the museum showed to me

….Drummers drumming

The Bunnykins story began early in the 1930’s in an English convent school where their creator, Sister Mary Barbara, taught history. Here’s the drummer from the Royal Doulton Bunnykins Oompah Band.

Of course, these twelve objects are just the tip of the iceberg. Why not search more of our collections by visiting our online catalogue.

Written by Joe Perry (Curator, Local History) - Modified by Glenn Roadley (Curator, Natural Sciences)

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