New exhibition to celebrate the 'mighty women' of Buckingham and surrounding areas

Florence Farmborough of Steeple Claydon who was a Red Cross nurse during WW1
Florence Farmborough of Steeple Claydon who was a Red Cross nurse during WW1

The Old Gaol Museum in Buckingham is launching an exhibition next week to celebrate the achievements of amazing women in the town and surrounding communities.

The 'Mighty Women' exhibition opens on 8 February and will focus in-depth on the stories of eight remarkable women throughout the region's history, as well as giving voice to many others of exceptional achievement.

Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife, had significant portions of her life entwined with Buckingham

Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife, had significant portions of her life entwined with Buckingham

Exhibition curator, Lauren Hutton, wrote: “The Old Gaol is celebrating the amazing stories of women in Buckingham and the surrounding area, right through history to today. From amazing escapes through war-torn Russia, to trailblazing politicians, pioneering nurses, women who stood up for what they believed, followed their dreams and have given so much to our local communities. These stories, we hope, will engage and inspire those who read them.”

Included among the mighty women are some fascinating surprises. The first wife of Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, would probably not be the first on anyone's lips as a hero of Buckingham, but she is credited with rallying the defence of England from a Scottish invasion while heavily pregnant from Buckingham.

Catherine loved Buckingham so much that she gave it an intricately carved cross, which can also be seen at the Old Gaol.

Perhaps the most dramatic and heroic tale is that of Florence Farmborough from Steeple Claydon, who almost unbelievably found herself on the frontlines of the cold, harsh and unforgiving eastern front during the First World War, acting as a Red Cross nurse for the Russian army. Her endeavours twice earned her the George Medal.

The Old Gaol in Buckingham where the Mighty Women exhibition will be displayed

The Old Gaol in Buckingham where the Mighty Women exhibition will be displayed

In many ways though, this was just the tip of the iceberg for Florence in what was a truly astonishing life, of which there is no space to do full justice to here.

Moving toward more modern times, the exhibition documents the story of Diana Elkerton, who became the first female Mayor of Buckingham in 1967.

Among her many other accomplishments Diana Elkerton was also the first President of Buckingham Hospital’s League of Friends, and she played a key role in saving the hospital when it came under threat in the late sixties. Regular readers will know that this paper has recently been reporting on new fears for the hospital’s future.

These are just some of the tales that will be on show at the Old Gaol, and visitors are very much welcome to pick up pen and paper and write the stories of their own mighty women to add to the display.

On her experience of bringing the stories to life, curator Lauren Hutton said: “We wanted to bring these stories to the fore, at a local level, in celebration of these mighty women. It’s been a great experience uncovering and pulling these stories together and we hope others are as inspired as we have been."

The Mighty Women exhibition starts on Friday 8 February and will be open from 10am-4pm every Monday to Saturday until 27 April.

For more information please visit: https://buckinghamoldgaol.org.uk.