William Newton

Title: Assistant Curator
Department: Furniture, Textiles and Fashion

I like things with saints on, things made of plastic, puns, video games, bits, pieces and cake.

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Petka's head

St. Petka

This Orthodox saint’s proper name is Paraskeva of the Balkans, but she is also known alternatively as Petka. She was born on the shores of the Sea of Marmara at the start of the 11th century. She claimed that God spoke to her at the age of 10 while in church, quoting Jesus (and therefore […]

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doublet

Doublet-dealing

This morning we welcomed to Blythe House a visitor from the Emerald Isle, looking at a selection of 16th and 17th century objects; two caps, a doublet, embroidered sleeve and the famous Margaret Layton jacket, hoping to learn something about their construction.     Let’s take a closer look at that doublet, which is laying […]

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Statuette head

St. Bruno of Cologne

Today is a feast of St. Bruno (ca. 1030-1101), a very, very holy chap who was teacher to one of the most important figures of the middle ages: Pope Urban II, the instigator of the First Crusade. This 11th century eremitic scholar-man was also the founder of the Carthusian monastic order. If you’re wondering what […]

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St. Theresa of Lisieux

Today is the celebration of one of Catholicism’s less flamboyant but more popular saints, St. Theresa of Lisieux, commonly known as the ‘Little Flower of Jesus’. Her saintliness is not a result of holy pillows, levitations, stigmata or loyal animal friends, but rather it is because of the quiet, sweet and serious way that she […]

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St. Sergei of Radonezh

Today, like the BBC north of the M25, we look east, further east even than Norfolk. Give the globe a little twirl to your left and you’ll see there’s a big country which covers a lot of the top bit of it. This country is called Russia, and it’s very famous. Now if you look […]

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St. Gerard Sagredo

Martyrs have been martyred in some awfully creative ways. Last time around we learnt how St. Eustace met a sticky end, roasted alive inside a brazen bull. St. Fausta was sawn in half inside a box, St. Bartholomew was skinned alive and St. Alphege was pelted with cow skulls. Truly, these are horrible ways to […]

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Detail of PL side of 7821-1861, wheel lock rifle, showing St. Eustace and the stag © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

St. Eustace

Today is the feast of another of our Holy Helpers, Saint Eustace. In his person is united the graphic design for Jägermeister, a new theory concerning the term ‘family roast’, and the pleas and devotion of nearly two millennia of firemen. Read on, bold traveller of the internet, and be enlightened.   Eustace was a […]

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Detail of C.325-1928 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Pope St. Cornelius

Pope Cornelius’ short reign in the middle of the 3rd century (251 – 253) was consistent with the tradition of early Christian leaders being a generally unlucky bunch. Some of the age’s biggest cheeses were against him: two Roman Emperors and an Antipope.   Literary evidence suggests that Cornelius was not born to a wealthy family; extant […]

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Detail of 5940-1859, altarpiece, showing St. Giles © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

St. Giles

Perhaps the most popular vegetarian of the middle ages, semi-legendary St. Giles has had very little time to enjoy himself in heaven since his death in the first quarter of the eighth century. Indeed, many diverse groups consider him their patron saint; spur makers, disabled people, horses, beggars, blacksmiths, sufferers of breast cancer, breast-feeding women, […]

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Detail of A.135-1946, alabaster statue of St. Fiacre © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

St. Fiacre

Today marks the feast of Saint Fiacre (d.670). This semi-mythical 7th century Irish saint was a sort of nurse-cum-hermit who would tend to the ailments of all who visited his oratory so long as they met one condition: that they were a man. Women were cautioned to stay away from his retreat on pain of […]

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