Over the past few months I have been examining the history of Birmingham's manufacturing industry discovering the narratives of its factory owners as well as the beautiful products they created. I thought I'd share the story behind one of the objects that has really caught my imagination. The photograph at the top of the page shows a range of 'Tudor' glasses created in the city and still housed in the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
This range of 'Tudor' inspired products was created in 1858 by F & C Osler, a world renowned specialist in luxury glasswares and the owners of one of the largest glass factories in Britain. The 'Tudor' glass was part of a themed dinner service created in celebration of Queen Victoria's visit to the 17th century manor house, Aston Hall. The Queens visit with Prince Albert on the 15th June 1858 was a momentous occasion for the city as the monarch's presence also heralded the ceremonial opening of the hall and grounds. The heritage site had been saved from dereliction and transformed into a large scale visitor and tourist attraction. The Hall was to be given back to the people of Birmingham and had been reimagined as a palace of wonders and curiosities with the Queen lending the Hall over 150 items from the royal collection.
The Queens visit with Prince Albert on a sunny day in June came at a high point in the monarchs personal and professional life. She had given birth to nine children, had a comfortable and loving relationship with her husband and reigned over a country whose political and economic powers were growing. Though within three and a half years the Prince would be dead and the Queen, and the nation with her, plunged into long term mourning.
I believe these ornate Glass objects provide us with a tangible connection to a fascinating period in both Birmingham and Britain's past.