All posts by Heather Millard

Butterfield Archive

We’re lucky enough to hold within our collections some of the correspondence between members of the Butterfield family, who were the owners of Cliffe Castle.

They offer a fascinating insight into the past of the family, and as we begin to delve into them we are finding some wonderful  stories. We have a volunteer, Ian, busily working on transcribing the letters (a slow and painstaking process),  and I will frequently pop into the office to ask for an update on the latest ‘gossip’ from the letters. There’s normally something interesting or entertaining to be revealed!

He kindly agreed to write some blogs for us based on the letters as he finds some interesting stories.

Ian writes:

This is one of a series of occasional blogs drawing on the letters of the various members of the family.

The early blogs will draw on the letters of the Butterfield women.  In this entry they are  ones are written by Kittie Butterfield.

Kittie was the sparky and articulate American niece of Henry Isaac Butterfield, the builder of Cliffe Castle. She was the daughter of his youngest brother, Frederick.

Tinted photograph of Kitty as a young child.  (on the reverse is a dedication from Kitty to her Uncle Henry)
Tinted photograph of Kitty as a young child. (on the reverse is a dedication from Kitty to her Uncle Henry)

Via the letters, we first encounter Kittie as a school girl in Germany in 1872, writing to her cousin.

“my first day at school was very much like other days are , all the girls stared at me for the first 10 minutes then being recalled to their work by a very nice gentleman Mr Lapper, who looks like a sunbeam one day and like a thundercloud the next, they were obliged to put off further scrutiny until a more (blank )period.

After that I enjoyed myself immensely as you can conceive for I heard nothing but German until 12 o’clock. In the afternoon I had a sewing lesson, imagine my felicity, sitting two mortal hours plying my needle and thread. Everyone in Germany can knit and sew, in fact they are so zealous that a pair of stockings is a difficult thing to obtain. Not my dear that I intend to say anything against them but sewing is not in my line at all”

Kitty Butterfield as a young child
Kitty as a young child.

Kittie had an amazing way with words which is possibly why she married a journalist Eustace Ballard Smith in 1890 (of which more later).

Despite the tragic early death of her brother at 17 (he was killed in New York when he was driving a carriage to meet his father at the train station) and then the later death of her father, Kittie and her mother Caroline were very adventurous , travelling “way out west” in 1884, visiting the Grand Canyon, Colorado, Salt Lake City and California.   She paints a vivid picture in her letters.

“We spent the night in a shanty of boards through which we could see and the stars were visible through the openings in the boards from our beds, imagine the situation! Still it paid, in the evening in walking abroad for a little fresh air we had the felicity of nearly stepping on a little snake that was coiled ready to spring on the one that got nearest to it first. Fortunately it had the consideration to give us warning and was dispatched in consequence before anyone had been bitten”

Later, on the same eventful trip

“ I wish you could have had a glimpse of mother entering the promised land (California) ………….The river had washed the bridge away and all passengers walked over half way on the planks and thence on a single plank into a boat , poor mother gave out half way and said she could go neither forwards or backwards. There she sat surrounded by her bags and baskets and finally by dint of tremendous efforts a boat was brought to her rescue and she was conveyed over to California”

As you will see Kittie was very much her own Woman not least in regard to her marriage. She wrote from the Grand Hotel Paris, May 30th 1890.

“I write this to say that I am marrying Ballard Smith on Tuesday the 3rd June in London , of course you know I have been engaged a very long time but three weeks ago I decided it was useless to wait any longer and so I began my preparations and now it is nearly here, the most momentous day of my existence…

Mama is most unhappy, for which I am most sorry, but she has been very nice giving me my trousseau , a lovely one and she goes with me to London -she declares she will not be present at the (wedding) but I think she may after all.”

Unfortunately, and somewhat ironically, neither the recipient of the letter, who was Kittie’s cousin Frederick William Louis Butterfield  (Henry Isaac Butterfield’s son who was known as Louis within the family), nor his American born wife Jessie were able to attend as they were in the USA at the time.

The event must have been far removed from the grand Society wedding which was originally anticipated by the family, which would have required more time to prepare, but her quick decision and the subsequent marriage within the time frame she set out give a good indication of her dynamic personality.


Our Community Engagement & Events intern Lucy, has written this weeks blog post, about a recent pop-up event she was involved with

She writes:

The Suffragette 2018 Pop-Up Event

What a great night we had on Saturday, when we popped up with our Suffragette Collection at The Brick Box Rooms, a live arts café, to celebrate the anniversary of The Representation of the People Act of 1918, which granted the vote to women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification. The same Act gave the vote to all men over the age of 21. The pop-up took place as part of The Make More Noise event hosted by the Brick Box Rooms and Live Cinema UK.

The event began in the evening, soon after opening the doors people began to arrive and there was a lively buzz in the air. Prior to the film, we invited people to get in role as a Emmeline Pankhurst in costume and play the board game Pank-A-Squith. The board game was used by the suffragettes as an educational device to show people the struggles women faced to get the right to vote and as a fundraiser for their campaign. The objective of the game is to get your suffragette counter from their home to the goal Parliament.

Playing Pank-a-squith
Playing Pank-a-squith

In another corner of the room, we shared The Suffragette Newspaper which contained reports of suspicious suffragette acts in Bradford, including militant arson attacks at mills causing thousands of pounds worth of damage and the dyeing of Chellow Dean Reservoir purple. We also had re-produced copies of campaign postcards from our collection. Many often satirical, one card red “No Vote, No Tax” women often refused to pay tax on the grounds they had no say within political sphere.

Using the printed campaign material for inspiration and collage, visitors created their own individual page for a zine that re-imagined what The Suffragette Newspaper 2018 would say now. The pages were often heart-warming with “Wishes for our Sisters”, political statements against trump and celebratory of female activist now like Malala Yousafzai. The zine was live risograph printed during the film screening  by Footprints Workers Co-operative in the café and people were able to take their collaboratively made zines hot off the press.

The event was a huge success and visitors were incredibly engaged in every aspect of the night, reading the newspaper articles through to the end and I often caught people taking photos so that they could read more at home.

Live Cinema UK showed incredibly moving silent footage from the Suffragette movement that was accompanied by live pianist Lillian Henley, followed by a celebration of noise and dance to a female DJ playing all the female disco hits. There is something to be said about collaborating with other amazing arts organisations in our city to not only enhance the accessibility to our collections but to strengthen the cultural offer of Bradford!

I’m sat at my desk now, four days later, with a warm fuzzy feeling as I read tweets from people who came along.

“Had an amazing evening @BrickBoxRooms celebrating 100 years since some women got the vote with some of my favourite inspirational ladies and best friends #struggleisnotover #makemorenoise




“We made more noise this weekend with @BradfordMuseums & @Lillian_Henley & @livecinemauk – check out this ace riso-printed zine we created on the night!”

Tweets like this remind me how important it is that the museum collections pop-up in the heart of the city for everyone to see in fun, friendly and participatory environments.

Coming Up –

International Women’s Day
The Brick Box Rooms, 5:30pm-9:00pm
8th March

Bradford Museums and Galleries are popping up at Brick Box to help celebrate International Womens Day.

Come and play games inspired by the Suffragette board game Pank-A-Squith. Listen to spoken word from Kirsty Taylor, the BBC Radio 3 New Voice winner, about suspicious suffragette acts in Bradford and pick up your own copy of The Suffragette Newspaper 2018 made by Bradford women now.

Throughout March there will also be an exhibition from our Photo Archive featuring incredible Bradford women and men who fought for Women’s rights, have acted radically, reformed education or changed the way women are perceived in the workplace.

For more information on the whole programme please visit: Brick Box Rooms facebook.

Working on Cartwright Hall

Visitors to our website or indeed, to Lister Park may have noticed that Cartwright Hall Gallery was closed for the first month of the year.

Helen Thornton, the site Manager has written a blog for us explaining why….

She writes:

Due to essential upgrades to our security systems at Cartwright Hall, the whole building has been closed to the public between 1st January 2018 and 1st February 2018.

This project has been essential for the gallery to meet stringent international standards. It will enable us to work more closely with high profile national and international institutions to bring some of the world’s most prestigious art to Bradford in the future. And we have been fortunate also to secure some external grant funding to help us with this work.
SO what exactly is going on?
Well, because these are security works then the precise information is, of course, sensitive! What I can say is that we are having new, state of the art (no pun intended) equipment inside and out, the latest technology to keep Bradford’s Art Collection safe whether on display or in store, day or night, open or closed. Our CCTV cameras will provide excellent images and will cover all angles within the building, on the roof and around the exterior.
We have also been able to take the opportunity of the project to improve the appearance and location of the equipment. Our contractors have been busy following old wiring through the bowels of the building and stripping out what we don’t need.

Follow those wires
Follow those wires –  stripping out the unneeded ones.

When Cartwright Hall was built at the turn of the 20th century it had an elaborate and innovative (for the time) air conditioning system with vents and passages through roofs and wall voids in order to circulate the air. So we have been able to use these to conceal new wiring. We have also been able to use smaller, better placed equipment so we don’t spoil the fabulous views of our beautiful internal and external architectural features.
Outside our contractors have had to contend with some freezing conditions to reach the roof areas and a cherry picker arrived in a break in the snow showers! <image 2>

Cherry picker arriving
Cherry picker arriving

On some galleries – such as the new David Hockney Gallery – this work would have been impossible if we were open to the public. To protect the art from accidental damage we have removed the most vulnerable items from the walls.

Moving the artwork
Moving the artwork

This has meant ‘all hands to the pumps’ to, very carefully, take large and fragile pictures from the walls and place them in designated areas with the right protection.

Our Museum Assistants have had special training in handling art and we have lots of specialist equipment.

Specialist equipment for moving artwork!
Specialist equipment for moving artwork!

So, with the advice and guidance of our Collection Officers and Curators, the work has been completed efficiently and without incident. This has also presented an opportunity to refresh some displays (for example in our Print Room) by putting prints from storage on display and giving the previous displayed prints ‘a rest’. We have also taken the chance to check our database records are up to date.

So all in all, despite the closure the project has been useful on many levels and will provide us with a new security system we can be proud of.

When we reopen on 1st February the work continues behind the scenes but there may be the occasional short term individual gallery closure for completing the project. But the new David Hockney Gallery and the upper floors are finished.

The Elusive Lady’s–Slipper Orchid

This week’s new blog has been written by our Natural Sciences Curator, Dr Gerard McGowan

He writes:

A recent enquiry about our collections brought to mind a rare and ‘infamous’ specimen in our Botany Collection, specifically from the Herbarium Collection of Dr William Arthur Sledge (NS.30.82). Dr Sledge (1904-1991) was a noted botanist and spent his entire academic career at University of Leeds from 1928-69. You can read a short bio here and an obituary here. The controversy all centres on the collection of a very rare orchid from the last known wild habitat.

Once regarded as one of the rarest flowers on mainland Britain the Lady’s-Slipper orchid, Cypripedium calceolus, was both protected and highly prized (see Fig. 1).

This beautiful flower is a very striking and colourful orchid that is found throughout Europe and Asia. On mainland Britain, however, it became very rare indeed with only one remaining site of wild native flowers known. It was previously fairly common across the north of England especially in the Yorkshire Dales. However, due to habitat loss and over grazing by sheep the markedly reduced numbers couldn’t withstand the final onslaught by naturalists and hobby gardeners who uprooted the final few native wild specimens for their own gardens and collections.

Figure 1. Lady’s-Slipper Orchid, Cypripedium calceolus , in full bloom
Figure 1. Lady’s-Slipper Orchid, Cypripedium calceolus , in full bloom

In 1958, at the height of the concerns over the future of this orchid surviving in the wild, Dr Sledge decided to collect the flower heads at the last known wild habitat to prevent collectors from identifying the site and uprooting the only remaining specimens. This flower, collected in 1958 is now in the Sledge Herbarium at Cliffe Castle Museum, and has over the course of the last 60 years been the source of much controversy (See Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Herbarium Sheet by Dr W.A. Sledge of Lady’s-Slipper Orchid, with label (location info removed)
Figure 2. Herbarium Sheet by Dr W.A. Sledge of Lady’s-Slipper Orchid, with label (location info removed)

An article was published in the Bulletin of the Alpine Garden Society (Volume 62 June 1994 page 231), a couple of years after Dr Sledge’s death in 1991, suggesting that Dr Sledge was wrong to collect this flower and he did so without authority. It even suggested that Dr Sledge should have faced prosecution for his ‘autocratic act’ but that ‘his act was covered-up by conservation officials’ and the author was himself threatened with prosecution for criticising the collecting of the specimen. (N.B. A law was introduced only in 1975 specifically protecting the Lady’s-Slipper Orchid and making its uprooting or destruction a criminal offence.)  The editor of the AGS bulletin was similarly robust in his criticism of Dr Sledge. The article also noted that this orchid root recovered and 18 flowers were counted in 1993. A letter, dated 1962, to Dr Sledge from John Armitage (1900-1996), a Leeds naturalist,  that is in the archives of Bradford Museum, also with a photograph, evidenced that the Lady’s-Slipper orchid was in bloom at the site in that year (See Fig. 3).

Figure 3 Photo of Lady’s-Slipper Orchid in 1962, with text on rear of photo.
Figure 3 Photo of Lady’s-Slipper Orchid in 1962, with text on rear of photo.


Figure 3 Photo of Lady’s-Slipper Orchid in 1962, with text on rear of photo.
Figure 3 Photo of Lady’s-Slipper Orchid in 1962, text on rear of photo.

Modern Conservation

The Lady’s Slipper orchid favours a habitat of open woodland on well-drained calcareous soil. The limestone rocks in the Yorkshire Dales offered a perfect home for them. This was the very last habitat these flowers could be found in the wild. They were situated on a fairly steep sloop of grassland over well-drained soil on a base of limestone close to a wood of oak, ash and hazel trees.

This are is now nationally protected, with the Lady’s-slipper Orchid recognised as a Biodiversity Action Plan National Priority Species.

A national programme was introduced in 1992 by English Nature (now Natural England). This Species Recovery Programme includes habitat management and warding. In addition, propagation of this rare flower has been carried out at other suitable sites both within the Yorkshire Dales National Park and nationally. A good site to see this reintroduced species and red squirrels, Sciurus vulgaris, another BAP priority species, is Kilnsey Park.

Hope for the future

Dr Sledge’s specimen, collected in 1958, shows that it was cut and not uprooted (see Fig. 2). This practice would have indeed protected the plant from prying eyes of unscrupulous collectors who may have uprooted the specimen and thus destroyed the last known wild example on mainland Britain. Now, with modern conservation and dedicated conservationists this beautiful flower has been saved and its numbers are increasing in protected sites. With continued support of our conservation and natural heritage bodies and understanding from the public our most rare plant species can be saved for future generations to enjoy.

Amongst others the Lady’s-Slipper Orchid conservation initiative was supported by, Natural England, Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

Alke Schmidt: Wonder and Dread

Sonja Kielty, our exhibitions curator agreed to write a blog post for us to give an insight in the process that lead to the recently opened  Alke Schmidt: Wonder & Dread exhibition.

She writes:

Applique & weave by Alke
Applique & weave by Alke

Alke first contacted BMG following her selection of paintings in Salts Mill for Saltaire Inspired in 2015. I absolutely loved her work and knew we needed to show it. It became clear on reading her proposal and past shows at Cromford Mills and the William Morris Gallery that it was perfect for Bradford Industrial Museum – a working textile mill until the 1970s. Alke’s work was so striking, so beautifully rich, so purely historical. This was an artist who clearly wasn’t just talented artistically but knew her textile history. She suited the Industrial Museum perfectly.

The Industrial Museum houses floors of social and technological history items and the remit for exhibiting there is to work with these collections of never ending objects – to peruse, retrieve, spruce them up, show them off. Each artist who enters brings a fresh pair of eyes, a new vision, a mind of new ideas as they hear the stories, the facts, the history from the social history curators. Alke had that excitement from the minute we introduced her to Liz McIvor – social history & technology curatorat the time. Conversations involving alpacas, Peruvian trading, 1800s, ships, mills, fires, women, children, desperation, greed bled into the world of Saltaire, espionage, German partnerships, dyes, colour labs, sample books, Bangladesh, sweat shops…

Alpaca sculpture joining in the entertainment at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery
Alpaca sculpture joining in the entertainment at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery

Alpacas have surrounded my very being in work since starting at BMG over 12 years ago. In every building, on every wall there’s reference to them! This time I entered their woollen history as never before.

The sounds, colours, faces, imaginary or real, animal or human, patterns and feelings all became clear as we decided with great difficulty, what we could narrow down and focus on, all the layers, information and strands textile manufacturing unfolded.

We also realised that to bring the original artworks, make some new works especially for Bradford based on our collections and city, produce postcards for the museum shop and host a series of events for the public to learn and enjoy, was going to cost us more budget than we had. Alke set to work on an in depth Arts Council England Grants for the Arts application – we worked on budget, ideas for engagement with schools and visitors. This application was successful. We met with Irene Lofthouse, artepreneur who will be hosting family and school drop-ins during 2018, becoming Mary Ryan, 18th century mill worker.  We also met with Naseem Darbey, artist and educationist who will be running a series of workshops for schools. Again – with huge creativity afoot from all 3 artists – the programme has been something to aspire to. An offer to visitors and schools and curators that can only innovate and infuse knowledge that hasn’t been collated before.

Alke Schmidt, Irene Lofthouse and Naseem Darbey
Alke Schmidt, Irene Lofthouse and Naseem Darbey

In the meantime, Alke had been working on the residency with us as part of the Arts Council funding.  She aimed to create 3 or 4 new works as part of the exhibition – all incorporating Bradford based fabric, yarn and story. Without giving too much away, I suggest you visit you the exhibition to see these!  Stunning new works on fabrics kindly donated by local companies, plus access to behind the scenes working time in Haworth Scouring where Alke could meet workers there, modern day mill workers. She sketched in situ and has produced some very different new works.

Haworth Scouring in residence
Haworth Scouring in residence

Camira Fabrics have written a blog on Alke’s time with them.

Given Alke’s interest in the workers involved at every stage of textile production she decided to put the Peruvian alpaca farmers centre stage in her new artwork by including a portrait of an alpaca farmer living in Peru’s highlands today. Alke found her “model”, Cristina, through Allpa, a Peruvian NGO that works with indigenous weavers, jewellers and other craftspeople to produce high-end textiles and fashion accessories.

The concept of “Wonder and Dread” is to incorporate, in each work, a fabric that relates to the story being told in that work. Alke looked at comparable Victorian fabrics from Salts Mill.  Alke spent time at the British Alpaca Fashion Company  that is producing, among other things, alpaca/silk fabrics. The company has a herd of some 85 alpacas in Somerset. Alke showed them Bradford Museums and Galleries Salt’s sample and they suggested they could try and recreate one of Titus Salt’s alpaca/silk designs and they did, using Salt’s ivy pattern, with Gainsborough, a weaving company.

People’s History Museum, Manchester
People’s History Museum, Manchester

I visited a small selection of Alke’s artwork which was on display at the People’s History Museum in Manchester earlier on this year to talk to the curator there who has already worked with the artwork. Alke’s work certainly suited the theme of ‘People’s History’. It became apparent to me that it was the absolute right decision to host a bigger show of Alke’s work in such an industrial, historical setting as the Bradford Industrial Museum.

Installing at Bradford Industrial Museum
Installing at Bradford Industrial Museum

Installation is the most enjoyable, creative part of the job for an exhibitions curator. Unwrapping, lifting, moving, laying out and moving again, the full story finally being set out to be told.  After all this time, finally, here’s where we get to show everyone what we’ve been working on. The first test is on the exhibitions team – the technicians, the assistants, the conservators – their initial reactions to seeing the works, piece by piece as the room becomes apparent. Some colleagues will have seen the work previously, in images, or on the van or with the artist.  But this is where everyone views them in the flesh. It was surprisingly difficult to hang. The space is huge. The large works suddenly seemed small. Even today, as a museum, this building envelopes you, towering its authority. After many layouts, What’s App messages and phone calls to Alke in London, we had it. We absolutely, suddenly had it. The perfect curatorial moment.


Alke Schmidt’s lunchtime talk and opening of the exhibition
Alke Schmidt’s lunchtime talk and opening of the exhibition

The exhibition is now open and on until November 2018.  It looks beautiful.  It feels inspirational.  Close up, it tells of sadness, human greed and disdain. With closer inspection it drips of tears, blood and pain. The themes of industrial revolution, international trade, slavery, death, politics and modern day textile manufacturing immerse the viewer into the sights, sounds, faces, feelings that we felt way back in the initial talks.  Stand back again and it’s beautiful. Just like the perfect strands in a piece of textile. Where do your clothes really come from and who’s been sacrificed for you to wear them?

Celebrating Christmas at Cliffe Castle & Cliffe Castle Park

If you’ve visited Cliffe Castle and its park recently, you can hardly fail to have noticed there’s been an awful lot happening in the park.  If you’ve not yet come across Deborah Rehmat’s blog recording the developments, then you really must explore the posts! (after you’ve finished reading this one of course).

The work is nearly complete and  therefore the 10th of December was picked to be the Official Opening –  coinciding nicely with our Christmas in the Castle on the same day.  The team at the Museum worked closely with the Bradford District Parks team and the Cliffe Castle Park Conservation Group to ensure a range of activities and attractions would be there for visitors – from a Costumed Pageant organised by our Learning team in conjunction with local schools to an Oom-pah Band playing up on the terraces!

The Hall was decked, the tree was trimmed and the count-down to the big day began….

There was an awful lot weather checking on the run up week as the forecasts seemed to be rather on the ‘snowy’ side.  Luckily for us the dire predictions of huge snowfalls turned out to be a lovely dusting of snow, just enough to turn the Castle and Park in a proper winter wonderland!

The day before, our Collections team were busy braving the snow to add some more gilding to the lamp-post at the front of the castle, returning the lamp back to Henry Isaac Butterfield’s original colour scheme.

Braving the cold to add more gilding!
Braving the cold to add more gilding!

Local Nursery Schools had created the ‘birds’ from the song 12 Day of Christmas, to decorate the Glass houses and were safely tucked in amongst the cacti.

Paper mache French Hens - my favourite of the bird depictions!
Paper mache French Hens – my favourite of the bird depictions!

The day dawned, Father Christmas and his Elf was safely ensconced in front of the Chimneypiece in the Grand Drawing Room – because when you have a Malachite chimneypiece, it would be rude to host him anywhere else…

Father Christmas and his Elf in front of the Fireplace!
Father Christmas and his Elf in front of the Fireplace!

Everyone started to gather together for the main event….

The VIPs posing just before the official opening - wrapped up warm for the cold
The VIPs posing just before the official opening – wrapped up warm for the cold

Speeches were made, ribbons were cut (held aloft by the Christmas-tree shaped stilt-walkers) and the park and its glasshouses were officially open!

Stilt walkers dress as the fairies on top of Christmas Trees
Stilt walkers dress as the fairies on top of Christmas Trees

Visitors were then free to roam – busy exploring the  park, the market stalls there for the day –  and taking advantage of the ‘Pop-up’ cafe set up for the day by the people who will be running the Cliffe Castle Pavilion in the new year.

And of course, visiting Father Christmas!

Father Christmas
Father Christmas

Smiles were to be seen everywhere and as the snow started to fall gently again in the late afternoon, we all agreed that  (in the words of the old song) it was ‘beginning to look a lot like Christmas’.

And with that, it simply remains for us to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas from Bradford Museums & Galleries!

Explore Cliffe Castle with 21st Century Technology

We asked our new Community Engagements and Events intern, Lucy to write this blog, and give you an insight into what she’s currently involved with….

She writes:

Hello, I’m the new Community Engagement and Events Intern at Bradford Museums and Galleries. I’ve only been here the sum of three whole weeks but already I’ve been given an exciting project to take the lead on. My task is to share the great news with all our visitors new and old that we are launching an immersive virtual reality tour of Cliffe Castle.

The home of Victorian millionaire and textile manufacturer, Henry Isaac Butterfield, has been meticulously scanned and brought to life in a digital immersive environment.

At Cliffe Castle on the 10th December, alongside the many other things to see at our Christmas event you’ll be able to take a virtual walk around the museum and explore areas that aren’t always easily accessible to visitors. Viewers can discover new facts about the collection by finding interactive tags attached to objects throughout the virtual museum.

A still taken from the VR tour
A still taken from the Virtual Reality tour

The VR tour company CONVERTS, who have scanned a number of Yorkshire museums and institutions, will also be on hand to tell you how they created the tour.

But if you don’t fancy leaving your house this cold December, you could take a tour from your living room. All you require is a simple Google cardboard headset and a modern smartphone to download the experience. Or alternatively you can view the 2D experience on a computer or modern tablet.

This is a picture of me modelling a Google cardboard headset, during a photo-shoot for our marketing. They’re very easy to assemble and use, I would describe the headsets as flat pack cardboard with Velcro fastenings.

Lucy modelling the VR headset
Lucy modelling the VR headset

Our new virtual reality tour is accessible for all. People who are unable to visit the museum can explore Cliffe Castle from the comfort of their own home. The VR tour will allow us to go out into the community and take the whole museum with us. I’m very excited about the potential of having a resource that provides inclusive access to collections, I am hoping to harness the VR experience across dementia cafes, schools and community groups that struggle to access the museum. As we move forward, I will be researching technology that can advance the accessibility of museums for all visitors.

Alongside the VR launch, Salma our Technical Assistant Trainee will be showcasing 3D printing processes that she is using to recreate objects from in-accessible collections that are too fragile to handle. Check back to hear more about this from Salma in the next blog!

After the launch of our VR Tour at Cliffe Castle on the 10th December, the experience will be made available to use at home.  (Editor’s note –  Now it’s live, here’s a link to go exploring with…  Do let us know what you think!)

LGBTQ+ symposium at Cartwright Hall

Jill, our Curator of Fine Arts agreed to write a post for us discussing the LGBTQ+ symposium we put on last month.

She writes


Photo credit: Jamie Fletcher. Still image from ‘Queer as in Queer’.
Photo credit: Jamie Fletcher. Still image from ‘Queer as in Queer’.

Last month we invited anyone interested in LGBT+ art and culture to join us at Cartwright Hall for a one-day symposium of talks. The purpose was threefold: to hear from six fantastic art industry professionals, to initiate a working relationship with them, and to begin a dialogue with people from across our local LGBT+ communities.

After a passionate introduction from Bradford Council’s LGBT+ champion, Councillor Richard Dunbar, the day kicked off with Jude Woods. Jude has many strings to her bow including experience of working with museum collections, and for us she facilitated a Queer interpretation of two paintings we have on display. By talking about how she considered the pictures to relate to Queer culture and asking people what it made them think or feel it really opened up a completely different description and interpretation to the standard label information. It made me realise we could offer visitors a richer interpretation of artworks by also providing an alternative label text. This is something with a low cost that we could try quite easily.

Charlotte Keenan MacDonald from National Museums Liverpool was up next speaking from the perspective of a curator of British Art and gave us an art historical context referencing Bradford’s most famous and also gay artist, David Hockney. With a well-established Homotopia festival in Liverpool they have experience of engaging LGBT+ audiences and they are actively acquiring the work of LGBT+ artists.

The remaining speakers were practising artists: Nadim Choudry, Phil Sayers, Jez Dolan and Debbie Sharp, each spoke to us about their own art, and in the case of Phil and Jez, this also included work they have done or are doing with museum collections. I really like and respect the work of each of these artists and we are planning to explore ideas of how we can work together in the future. I am particularly keen on working with contemporary artists and museum collections as I think you get interesting and new perspectives on historical objects and artworks this way which keeps the gallery displays fresh and communicates in a broader variety of ways to a broader variety of people.

Debbie concluded the artist talks with a short performance that no written description could really do justice to. Needless to say we were all completely captivated. When she stopped you could have heard a pin drop, it was a great way to end.

Before everyone went their separate ways we invited comments about the day and contributions on what people would like to see in the future. One common feeling among the artists was that they have been particularly popular this year as museums have sought to mark the 50th anniversary of the partial-decriminalization of homosexuality, but what happens next year? Does it all stop? For our part, in Bradford Museums we consider our engagement with LGBT+ art and culture just to be beginning. We made lots of new contacts and got lots of ideas that day. We established there is interest from our audience and a role we can play. We also recognised this event didn’t include people who work as it was held on a weekday day time, or young people who were noticeably absent. So there is much we can do which I’m looking forward to.

If you are interested in LGBT+ art and culture and have any particular artists or areas of history you would be interested in seeing more of (at any of the Bradford Museum sites) send an email to and mark them ‘for attention of Jill’.

Front of House: Cartwright Hall

A new Museum Assistant, Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, shares her first impressions of the Gallery as she starts as a full time member of staff.

Like many people I struggled to find a career I was genuinely passionate about. Early 2016 I took a job at Beverley Art Gallery, and although I have frequented many a gallery and museum I’m no connoisseur of art and I knew very little about how exhibition/museum teams operated. However I was ready for a new challenge and it happened to be the best move I’d ever made, I finally felt I’d found my call in life.

Cartwright Hall Exterior
Cartwright Hall Exterior

On one of my visits back home to West Yorkshire earlier this year I decided to take my daughter to one of my old stomping grounds – Cartwright Hall Art Gallery. There was a warmth that burned inside me as I gazed over the amazing building that stood before me. Inside, the galleries were just as bright and welcoming as ever, like I remembered them as a child.

As a child the sculptures and art works were a little over-awing. But now I could actually appreciate what Cartwright Hall was really about, what an amazing place!

Preparing for exhibitions
Preparing for exhibitions

Not only does it have beautiful galleries, it has fantastic architecture and glorious historic park surroundings. It has also opened up the minds of so many people with its cultural exhibitions; kept the artists of Bradford on the map with exhibitions like David Hockney and has engaged the public with joining in with displays and workshops. Most of all it brought a smile to so many people visiting.

Preparing for exhibition install
Preparing for exhibition install

I knew then where I wanted to be, I wanted to come home! I wanted to be part of the team delivering the service at Cartwright Hall, a place that had brought me some of my happiest childhood memories, and that’s where I am today.

I am looking forward to what Cartwright Hall has in store for 2018 and being a part of the team!

Butterfields & Cliffe Castle

You’ll be used to seeing my name pop on these posts – I post the entries, but it’s not always me that writes the content.

However, this week’s blog is focusing on the ‘day job’ for me.  I’m the Social History Curator for Bradford Museums and Galleries, and I’m lucky enough to be based primarily at Cliffe Castle, which has a fascinating history and an interesting family associated with it –  the Butterfields

One of the tasks I’ve been doing over the past year or so, is focusing on the incredibly generous bequest from Lady Rozelle Raynes.  Great-Granddaughter to Henry Isaac Butterfield, she was the last of the family, and when she sadly passed away in 2015, she remembered the museum in her will.   We talked in an earlier blog about the  Malachite Chimney piece, which she gave to the museum.  As well as the fireplace, she gave to the Museum any items that she had retained that had a Cliffe Castle or a Butterfield link

The  Raynes Bequest items include paintings, pieces of furniture, sculpture, books, documents, porcelain dinner services (over 400 pieces processed so far) and many other items, both large and small –  although the fireplace was probably the largest, and almost certainly the heaviest item to come back up from Thoresby!

Opening the boxes has been a bit like Christmas year round –  we’re never quite sure what will be hiding, waiting to surprise us, even when we think we know what the box will contain!

I wanted to share just a few things I’ve found interesting

Tucked in some documents, was this right to travel –  confirming that for quite a time, Frederick saw himself as American (he was an american consul in Ghent for a period time) – his citizenship came from his American Mother.  It gives us plenty of details about Frederick, but his travelling companions are merely listed – it was not seen as important to record their details!

This document permits Frederick to travel as citizen of the United States, along with  his wife Jessie, their daughter and a maid.

We’ve come across quite a lot of images of Marie Louise Pierrepont – Henry’s granddaughter , Frederick’s daughter and Lady Rozelle’s mother.  She has quite a distinctive face, which has proved useful in identifying her in photographs!

Marie Louise Pierrepont, (nee Butterfield) Countess Manvers as a young girl
Marie Louise Pierrepont, (nee Butterfield) Countess Manvers as a young girl
Mare Louise Pierrepont, Countess Manvers probably in the late 1920s, early 1930s

Perhaps the most touching things we came across however, were two small lockets tucked in the corner of a box.

Lockets are always a little exciting, because they so often contain images –  and these were no exception!  The top locket contained two photographs – one of a young Frederick, and one of Marie Louise Roosevelt Butterfield his mother

Marie-Louise and Frederick
Marie-Louise and Frederick

We’re not quite sure who that locket orginally belonged to, as it’s not any of the monagrams or crests we’re familiar with –  if anyone recognises it, please do let us know!

The other locket we realised however, probably belonged to Henry Isaac Butterfield.

Inside, we found a lock of hair, and a photograph of Marie Louise.   There is carved ivy on the back of the locket –  a symbol of fidelity and everlasting love.  So it is likely this locket belonged to Henry Isaac.  Whether it was commissioned before or after her death we don’t know, but the signs of wear on the outside of the locket show that it was frequently handed -and kept close.  To see those physical signs of his affection was very touching.

Having the opportunity to handle these objects and add to our knowledge of the family –  and ensure they are treasured in the future too – has been a real joy.  It’s times like these I really love what I do!