Investigating some new items

As part of my placement at Abbey House Museum I was given the task of researching some objects that the museum had recently obtained and finding some more background information on them.

One of the objects was a circular tobacco box which had embossed ‘Cardigan Arms’, ‘compliments’ and the initials ‘W.M. Charltons.’ To find out more about the object I visited the Leeds Central library. Having never been to this library before I found the new experience really exciting, especially the local and family history section where I found all of my information. It was great that I could look in the old directories and found myself looking up who had lived at my current and previous address around one hundred years ago!

At first I felt a bit overwhelmed as to where to start in my research so I just picked up a directory from 1915 and started searching. I found out that there were two Cardigan Arms at that time, one in Bramley and one in Kirkstall. I searched both of the establishments and found that a Mr William Mitchell Charlton owned the Cardigan Arms Hotel, Kirkstall, in 1915. This meant that I had found the right person as the initials on the box read W.M. Charltons. Also including the word ‘Compliments’ on the box would suggest that the box was in a hotel room.

After knowing I had found the right person I wanted to know when he first came to manage the establishment. After trawling through many of the large directories I finally came to the earliest date that I could find with him being a listed occupant and that was around 1908. William Charlton ran the hotel until around 1929 where a Horace Movely Charlton took over and was the listed occupier (this could be presumed to be his son or other relative). 

Another object that I was researching on my placement was a poster advertising ‘The Great Water Caster’ Mr. Benjamin Marshall. The poster claims that Mr Marshall can cure people of all diseases and complaints from rheumatism and fits to female complaints and even cancer.

The back of the leaflet has testimonials from people who all claim that Benjamin Marshall cured them of their disease. For example, Mr Wetherill wrote ‘Dear Sir – I send you this testimonial for curing me of fits when all others failed…’ in 1884.

The dates on the testimonials are all around the 1880’s and 1890’s and vary in different types of conditions that the people had and have been cured of. The directories in the Leeds local and family history library were again of great use to me. I was able to look up his address and previous addresses to find out how long he practised this type of remedies. Under all of the trade directories he was listed as an herbalist (someone who uses plants and home remedies to cure people of certain diseases). I found this poster to be really interesting as the claims of Benjamin Marshall tend to be really far fetched, especially in today’s modern times. Did Mr Marshall’s remedies and methods actually work? Maybe he did cure some people of minor complaints, such as indigestion. Seeing the poster first hand and finding out a bit more information on Benjamin Marshall and society during the 1890’s and early 1900’s has really made my placement more enjoyable and worthwhile.

Written by Emily Bannister, student at Leeds Trinity University College whilst on placement at Abbey House Museum.

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