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Print, Aquatint
The Society of Royal British Archers
Smirke & John Emes
Engraved by Apostool.
 
Despite its title this print shows an archery meeting of the Royal British Bowman in 1789. The Society of British Bowmen were established on February 27th 1787. The original members being made up of 37 ladies and 37 men. The women competed with smaller bows to the men and in consequence fired a shorter distance.
 
Meetings were very much social occasions and were subject to strict rules and regulations. Membership was by ballot and prospective members could be black balled.Six black balls and the membership would be refused. Ladies on marriage had to gain written consent of their husband to continue with their membership
 
The society practiced weekly but competed once a fortnight at member’s houses on rotation. Refreshment were strictly regulated “A collation is ferved under the Society's tent, a limitation is made as to the number of difhes; and the difplay of any thing hot is punifhed by a fine of live guineas.” 1

Servants were not allow to spectate unless specifically invited by a member.

                  
The figures were drawn by John Smirke, with Emes drawing the landscape. According to Walrond, Sir Foster Cunliffe, a prominent member, recounts in the minutes of the Royal Bowman the artist sketching the drawing on June 12 1789. The original drawing being in the British Museum collection. He goes on to say,

 “the figures are especially said not to be portraits, the lady patroness is shown leaning against the target and can be recognised by her hat being adorned with white feather….. The lady who won the Captain's Medal at the first meeting of the year (which was obtained by the first hit in the gold) became lady patroness, and was presented by the society with a hat and white feathers"2

The society was patronised by George Prince of Wales. He gave a medal each year to the gentlemen and ladies.
The Society thrived into the 1860’s with Princess Victoria becoming a member, but by 1870 fashion had changed and tennis became more popular. The society met for the last time in 1880.

1.  From Anecdotes of Archery
From the earliest ages to the year 1791 by E. Hargrove
2.The Badminton Library Archery by CJ Longman and Walrond

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Chosen by Lorna Young
Staffordshire Loving Cup
Inscribed
'White Poll. Presented to Benjamin Young Sep 8th 1879.”

This Staffordshire loving cup has been chosen by Lorna Young because of her strong connection to the original owner of the mug. Benjamin Young to whom the cup is dedicated was her great grandfather. Benjamin belonged to a family with a variety of business interests in and around Sheffield, with two farms at Holmesfield where he hosted many coursing days for his friends.He was also the landlord of the Royal Oak in Sheffield.

As a coursing enthusiast, he is listed as being a winning owner in a number of the newspapers of the day. White Poll was undoubtedly a favourite dog of his. Unfortunately he is not listed in the Coursing Greyhound Stud Book, nor have we been able to find out why the date was particularly significant.

Loving Cups such as this one were often commissioned to commorate events such as births and marriages. The cups were commonly found in hotels and inn and customers would often have their personal mug hung above the bar of their regular establishment.

The connection between sport and inns is a close one. Pubs often held sporting events and often formed teams and supporters. Benjamin’s interest in coursing could have been held by his customers and it is easy to imagine the cup having pride of place in his hotel.

The Loving cup forms part of the redisplay of Palace House and will help illustrate the link between the decorative arts and sporting history.

 

 

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