Social History Collection

Our local history includes water mills and pubs, lace-making and straw-plaiting, Roman villas and Saxon burial sites, football teams and festivals. The stories of High Wycombe’s diverse social history is told through objects that are surprising, important, beautiful, mundane, quirky and wonderful.

 

Highlights of the Social History Collection

Please hover over the images to read an excerpt about them and click to read more.

Embroidered Farmer’s Smock

Embroidered Farmer’s Smock

This heavily embroidered farmer’s smock dates back to the 19th century, and was used in Radnage. Radnage, like much of the area was predominantly a farming village. Museum number HIWLH : 1992.22 ...
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Steel Drums

Steel Drums

High Wycombe has seen new people settling in the town from across the world throughout history. They came from other parts of the UK and brought new foods and new ways of life with them. One of the more prominent new communities that have settled here include the African-Caribbean community, who first arrived on the Empire Windrush in 1948. This steel pan drum was used by the St Vincent’s Second Generation Steel Band. Museum number HIWLH : 2007.60 ...
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Bucks Point Lace and Lace Bobbins

Bucks Point Lace and Lace Bobbins

A selection of decorated carved and turned lace bobbins, with bead ‘spangles’. Lace bobbins are used to make lace – thread is wound around the bobbins that are then plaited into elaborate patterns. Lace making was common throughout Wycombe and district - the cottage industry gave its name to the village of Lacey Green. Lace was made in the home by local women and children. Traditional Bucks Point lace was particularly intricate, and therefore slow to make. Although lace was expensive to buy, a majority of the profits would go to lace dealers, rather than to the women and children who made it. Bucks lace makers often lost out to simpler and faster varieties, such as Honiton lace from Devon and new machine-made lace from Nottingham. Museum numbers HIWLH : 2001.60.1 & HIWLH : T 18.6.1997.10 ...
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Roman Lamp

Roman Lamp

This ornate clay lamp was found on the London Road in 1954, not far from the remains of the Roman villa, now underneath the Rye Lido. It has a pattern around the top depicting a leaping hare. In both Roman and Celtic cultures the hare was considered sacred. Fewer Roman lamps have been found in Britain than in other parts of the Roman Empire, probably because of the high cost of importing the olive oil that the lamps burned. Wicks were usually made from pieces of linen. Museum number HIWLH : 9.9.2008.30 ...
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Straw Splitter

Straw Splitter

Straw splitters were used by women workers in the cottage industry of straw plaiting. The plaited straws supplied the hat industry in Luton. The invention of the straw splitter meant that local women could earn more as it enabled them to produce more delicate plaits. This wooden straw splitter is stamped J AUSTIN, perforated with 7 holes, 5 of which contain varied sizes of metal splitters for straw splitting. Museum number HIWLH : T 26.5.2000.2 ...
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