Object of the Month – March 2022

A small blue and cream decorative calendar in the form of a booklet dated 1885. Issued by H. Payne, draper, 102 High St. Thame stamped in inside cove

Floriography is the ‘language of flowers’. Dating back to the Victorian times floriography was as a means of coded communication through various flowers and floral arrangements, allowing people to express feelings which otherwise could not be spoken.

Plants sensitive to touch represented chastity, whereas the deep red rose symbolized the potency of romantic love. Pink roses were less intense than red, white suggested virtue, and yellow meant friendship.

Colour also had more specific meanings.

white violet meant ‘innocence’ while a purple violet said that the giver’s thoughts were ‘occupied with love’ for the recipient.

Bluebells communicated ‘kindness’, peonies meant ‘bashfulness’, rosemary was for ‘remembrance’tulips represented ‘passion’, and wallflowers stood for ‘faithfulness in adversity’.

Some plants were used to send negative messagesAloemeant ‘bitterness’, pomegranateconceit’, and rhododendrons meant ‘danger’.

The calendar was found in a sealed cupboard at 13, Southern Road, Thame, originally No. 9 and known in the nineteenth century as Derricks Lane.

The cupboard probably became sealed accidentally in 1888 when gas pipes were put over the door.  Exactly 100 years later when the cottage was being renovated, the cupboard was found with 496 items including family letters, Thame Gazettes, receipts and photos. Several of these items are on display in the main gallery of the museum.

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