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‘Hidden Hands: Women and Work in the Chilterns’ exhibition at Wycombe Museum

| April 13, 2023

The ‘Hidden Hands: Women and Work in the Chilterns’ exhibition opened at Wycombe Museum on Tuesday 7th March 2023.

The exhibition will explore the traditional crafts and skills in Chilterns villages through stories uncovered in new research undertaken by the Woodlanders Lives and Landscapes group.

A series of participatory events associated with the exhibition will include engagement sessions for young people, talks and workshops from lacemaking to straw plaiting, A Bodgers Pub Tour and Memory Day.

Historically, women’s paid work has often been belittled and forgotten. This exhibition hunts down the hidden women’s work in Chilterns villages that formed a crucial part of the local economy during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Discover how the luxury goods made by these highly skilled workers contrast with the harsh reality of working long and poorly paid hours from their homes.

Hear stories of straw plaiting in Buckland; caning and rushing chair seats in West Wycombe; lace making in Great Hampden; and braiding and beading in Holmer Green. Come to learn more about the crafts, women’s lives and their impact on the Chilterns.

The six month long exhibition opened at Wycombe Museum on Tuesday 7th March 2023 and forms the museum’s Summer Exhibition.

The exhibition runs until Sunday 10th September 2023, entry is free, all are welcome and there is no need to book in advance. Details of opening times can be found on the Wycombe Museum website at www.wycombemuseum.org.uk/visit.

A series of events will take place alongside the exhibition including:

  • Discover and Make sessions for young people.
  • A family day.
  • Lacemaking and straw plaiting workshops.
  • An exploration of local gin and beer and their links to local craftspeople.
  • A Bodgers Pub Tour.
  • A ‘memory day’ to collect new stories.

Roz Currie, Wycombe Museum Director, said: ‘Learning more about these stories of local women working for their families to survive has a particular resonance during today’s cost of living crisis. It is wonderful to showcase so many remarkable objects that reflect local women’s skill in different manufacturing processes and understand why none of these industries survive today.

*Source of information : Press release from Wycombe Museum.

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