Mugs and Medals

What’s in your attic?

Most of us have cupboards, drawers and boxes full of mementoes and memorabilia that are too precious to ever throw away. The lucky households that have an attic will usually extend their hoarding tendencies and fill attic space to the rafters with items and objects that mean a lot to them.

But how often do we go back through our accumulated ‘stuff’ to truly know what is hidden away. This is what the Bowes Museum is hoping you can do now.

We are looking for commemorative items that were awarded locally to individuals at the end of the First World War. These may have been given in recognition of military service, hard work and support for communities back home, and even to children who were able to celebrate the victory of 1918.

So our basic question is…do you have any objects such as these hidden in your attic?

In August 1919, Mr and Mrs Bell Irving entertained forty children at Rokeby Park. Games were played, teas were served, and each child was given a china mug or cup emblazoned with the arms of the War Allies.

Major J W B Heslop presented one hundred War Memorial Bronze medals to servicemen from Startforth. Money left over from the purchase of the medals was used to buy memorial mugs or cups for each Startforth child.

The November 1919 Parish magazine for the church in Laithkirk reported the gift of a Peace mug to each child. The mugs were described in the magazine by Doris Brown as a reminder of the Great War. They were a Royal Doulton china mug with the names of all the countries who were in the war depicted in a ribbon around the top of the mug. The illustrations on the mug featured ships, guns and planes, and the wording ‘Victory and Peace 1919’ was an element of the design. The Parish magazine reported that any children that had not received their mug should speak to Mr Hollywood at Mickleton School.

China Peace tumblers were also presented in February 1920 to all children under the age of fourteen in Startforth.

Captain Edward Berry, of Wycliffe Hall presented silver mounted walking sticks to local soldiers who had served in the War. The walking sticks were inscribed ‘In Memory of British Victory 1918’.

At a supper in May 1920, returning soldiers from Rokeby were offered a ‘Welcome Home’ supper at the Rokeby Estate. Mr Bell Irving announced that a silver medal would be presented to each soldier.

So throughout the various Teesdale townships in the post war period, many of the commemorative items presented would have been well used and maybe don’t survive today. Other mugs, sticks and medals would have been cherished by their owners and passed down through their families.

So if you think one of your relatives was presented with a local commemorative gift, have a look for it at home. Why not start…in the attic.