Sudbury Museum of Childhood: a new project

Sudbury Hall south frontLast week I started on a new book cataloguing project for the National Trust – this time at Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire.

There are really two sides to Sudbury. One is the elegant late 17th-century red brick Book cases with children's book at Sudbury Hall in Derbyshiremansion, the other a museum, housed in the former servants’ wing, devoted to the history of childhood. Originally set up by the Derbyshire Museum Service, the museum and its contents are now owned by the National Trust.

Apart from a large collection of children’s toys and related objects, there are also a couple of thousand books for children or about children’s development, ranging from early 19th-century didactic literature to 21st-century comics.

Over the next few months, I’ll post interesting finds from the shelves. Look forward to picture books (including some in German and French); ABCs and primers; 19th-century children’s stories; and a selection of the wide range of annuals.

While reorganising the shelves prior to cataloguing them, my eye was caught by this ecclesiastical fellow on the front cover of The Egg! for winter 1978…

St Nicolas on the front cover of The Egg!My Dutch followers will immediately recognise him as Sinterklaas (sans Zwarte Piet) or St Nicholas, whose feast day is 6 December. As far as I could tell from a cursory glance through the magazine, there was no explanation about who he is. Saint Nic is of course the origin of Santa Claus who distributes gifts at Christmas in the Anglophone world, but it was rather surprising to see him on the cover of a British children’s magazine!

Although it’s nowhere near December (I’m writing this on a day summer finally seems to have arrived in my area), the picture brought back fond memories of Sinterklaas celebrations and all the ‘lekkers’ associated with ‘pakjesavond’.

Bring on the ‘pepernoten’!


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