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Explore with Saffron Walden Museum

Welcome to Explore with Saffron Walden Museum. Here we will be getting up close and personal with some of our objects and sharing activities & crafts you can do with us at home! Click "Read More" to find out how... To use the page simply click on the hamburger icon (three horizontal bars in the top right) to open our pages list. Click on the page you want and start exploring. We are aiming to post regular new activities for all ages - so keep checking back or alternatively hit subscribe! We will also be keeping you up to date with our behind the scenes work using blog posts which you can find at the bottom of the page! We hope you enjoy exploring with us! If you have any requests we would love to hear them - email us at  or get in touch on social media!
Recent posts

Object of the Month - August 2020 - Chinese Foot Binding and Lotus Shoes

    Foot-binding was a traditional practice that originated in 10th century China, among court dancers and high society women. By the 12th century it was a widespread practice. In the early 19th century it was estimated that five to eight women out of every ten in China (taking into account regional variations) had bound feet. It eventually spread through all social classes and while it was outlawed in 1912, it continued in some rural areas for years afterwards. A census taken in 1928 in rural Shanxi found that 18% of women had bound feet, while in some remote rural areas such as the Yunnan Province, foot-binding continued to be practiced until the 1950s. In most parts of China, the practice had virtually disappeared by 1949. In 1999, the last lotus shoe-making closed.   The museum has around 14 pairs of Chinese lotus shoes associated with foot binding. They typically have wedge heels, pointed upturned toes which extend beyond the sole and stiffened ankles. The embroidered up

Object of the Month - July 2020 - Hipposandal

Hipposandal – a Roman horse shoe Our Object of the Month for July has been chosen by Carolyn Wingfield, Curator How were hipposandals used? Iron hipposandals ( soleae ferreae ) were removable temporary horseshoes, which were used to protect the hooves of working horses.  They were first introduced in the Celtic-Roman area north of the Alps in the mid-1st century AD and were in use until around the 5 th century AD, when they were largely replaced by nailed on horseshoes. The iron soles of the hipposandals were marked with grooves, with an oval-shaped thick metal cup above that, which would have enclosed and protected the hoof. They were fastened to the horse using metallic clips and leather laces.  This particular example from our collections has the back wings and upper frontal loop missing.  Wearing Hipposandals gave working horses’ better traction and protected their hooves, particularly on rough ground and metalled tracks. Wearing them greatly improved the efficiency and resilienc

Roman Kitchen & Dining

    Curator Carolyn Wingfield is giving a small display of Roman pottery a makeover, looking at where the pots were made or how they were used. This small bowl with a perforated base is a pottery strainer or colander, which has been partially reconstructed; it is quite rare for strainer bowls to be found complete. Domestic pottery like this was usually made locally, so it may well have been traded at a market in the Roman town of Great Chesterford, or the smaller centre at Great Dunmow. In this case, we do not have any information on where the strainer bowl was found. It was common in late Iron Age and Roman times to place food and drink offerings in the grave with the dead (usually cremated remains). We do not have detailed records of where every pot in the collections was found, but it is probable that most of the complete or reconstructed Roman pots in the collections probably come from burials.     Pottery strainer bowl or colander, probably made locally, c 170 – 250 AD Everyday ve

Introducing our brand new - Click & Collect Activity Packs

  Introducing our brand new Click & Collect Activity Packs   Bringing our usual holiday craft and learning activities to your home! Each pack contains all the materials you need plus exciting stories from our collections and is just £5. Simply follow the link to order yours   Week One: Brilliant Botanists Learn all about the botanist George Stacey Gibson. Make your own plant press and create your own herbarium. Become a plant hunter with the plant hunter trail. Grow your own bean plant and learn about what plants need to grow! Your pack will include: 1 x plant press kit 1 x Herbarium kit 1 x Glass jar and bean "seeds" 1 x A4 activity booklet, including instructions and plant hunter trail 5 x A5 Museum collections photographs to collect and keep Collecting your Activity Pack Once you have ordered your pack please email the Museum to arrange a collection slot. Do not come to the Museum without contacting us first.  Collecti

#OnThisDay - 2nd June 1953 - Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation Dress

          Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation Dress This is a framed sample of the material used to make Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation dress. Elizabeth’s coronation took place on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey in London.   The sample was a gift from Norman Hartnell, the designer of the dress, to Miss Grizelle Fowler. Miss Fowler bequeathed it to the museum in 2016. The Coronation Dress                                                                               Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation dress was designed by Norman Hartnell, who also designed her wedding dress. Elizabeth ordered the dress in October 1952 and it took eight months of research, design and workmanship to create it. Hartnell put forward eight different designs and Elizabeth chose her favourite. It then took at least three dressmakers, six embroiderers and the Royal School of Needlework to create the detailed embroidery. The dress is made from satin. It has an embroidered design, featuring some of the national f

Part 2 - The Shape of Women - Female Fashion Silhouette c. 1900 = Present Day

  Part 2 - The Shape of Women - Female Fashion Silhouette c. 1900 = Present Day Our Collections Officer (Human History), Jenny Oxley has a real passion for vintage fashion, check out part 2 of her latest blog, charting the changes in the female fashion silhouette between 1900 – Present Day - illustrated through the museum’s collections.        Follow this link for the PDF Version   or check it out on the Museum website        

The Shape of Women : c. 1790=1900

  The Shape of Women c. 1790=1900 : Corsets & Crinolines Our Collections Officer (Human History), Jenny Oxley has a real passion for vintage fashion, check out her latest blog, charting the changes in the female silhouette between 1790 and 1900 – Corsets and Crinolines - illustrated through the museum’s collections.        Follow this link for the PDF version: or check it out on the Museum website