Object of the Month July 2018

This month’s object is on display in the social history gallery and is a banner from the Rugby Branch of the Co-operative Women’s Guild.  It dates from 1885 and would have been a thing of pride and used in various processions.  The Guild itself was founded in 1883 by Alice Acland and 6 years later in 1889, it had more than 51 branches across the whole country.  Unlike a lot of the women’s groups at the time, they focused on the advancement of working-class women to distinguish from the middle-class groups that existed.  They were active in shaping a wide range of social legislation that included maternity cover, child health, divorce reform, suffrage and the pursuit of international peace to name a few.  Do come and have a look at the banner for yourself and discover some of the other pieces of social legislation the guild was involved in.  Maybe you could even tweet us the one most important to you?

In 1933 the Guild created the first ever white peace poppies for Remembrance Day. The use of flowers on the banner was common on banners and this one shows a rose bush interwoven with a scroll reading ‘Onwards and Upwards’ – why do you think these words were chosen? The main fabric of the banner is a lightweight beige unbleached weave linen with pink/red lining and a border and is hand stitched throughout.  It has been decorated with embroidery and appliqué, can you spot them?
At the Guild’s height in the years before the Second World War it had 1500 branches and 72,000 members, but in 2015 a vote was taken to dissolve the Guild in Rugby due to dwindling membership. The Rugby banner had been housed at the Nuneaton Branch for many years after the Rugby Branch disbanded and in 2016 it was donated to Rugby Art Gallery and Museum as the Nuneaton Branch was closing.
Come and have a look at the banner and our two amazing exhibitions Rural Rugby in the Social History Gallery and Journeys to Home in the Art Gallery.

Hermione Noyce, July 2018