Category Archives: Annie Brassey

Toronto with Annie

Leaving behind The Last Voyage and Australia, I travel on to Canada reversing time, to connect with Annie’s Flight of the Meteor of 1872. The first place in Canada we cross paths is the furthest inland she reaches, Toronto and Niagara Falls.

Bexhill to Bexhill

Niagara Falls, Toronto, Louise Kenward 2014

Spending a couple of months without Annie as companion, Niagara is a great place to be reunited. I read and reread her journal entries, carefully placing my feet in the echoes of her prints. Descriptions seem brighter, Annie is younger, healthier, excited (as ever) by new discoveries. The Falls are impressive, they impress Annie despite having heard a great deal about them already.  

Bexhill to Bexhill

Niagara Falls, Louise Kenward (2014)

One of the Canadian objects from the archives is this, an embroidered cigar case. Opening it up an inscription was found, identifying it as a gift.

Bexhill to Bexhill

Embroidered cigar case, Bexhill Museum (Louise Kenward, 2014)

Bexhill to Bexhill

Finding new inscription on cigar case.

‘In Conversation with Annie’

“In conversation with Annie: developing a dialogue with local heritage” celebrates £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Bexhill to Bexhill

Boarding the Sunbeam c 1876 (image courtesy of Bexhill Museum)

Bexhill Museum is celebrating a £10,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). This grant will fund their exciting project, “In conversation with Annie” led by local artist and traveller Louise Kenward at Bexhill Museum. The project aims to ‘develop a dialogue with local heritage’, exploring and sharing the archive collection of Lady Annie Brassey brought back to the area from her world voyages during the end of the 19th century. Inspired by Annie, Louise travelled around the world (Bexhill to Bexhill), collecting objects and observations from places where their paths crossed. She will hold drop-in sessions at the museum as she explores the stories behind 15 objects from the archives using Annie’s letters and journal entries as context, and connects them to her own travels. Visitors will also be able to take part in a series of workshops and talks which will build on the museum’s community and education programme. Reflections on current communication methods as opposed to those in practice during the time of Annie’s book ‘Voyage of the Sunbeam’ (1876-1877), will bring her journal writing to the fore and connect with the Museum’s use of social media which will play a role in telling people about the project, just as Annie’s book told of her travels.

Commenting on the award, Louise Kenward said: “Having visited other places called Bexhill around the world, I’m now really looking forward to returning to my home town, Bexhill-on-Sea and spending time with my travel companion, Annie Brassey. This grant gives me the opportunity to explore and share the collections she brought back from her voyages, now held at Bexhill Museum”.

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South East England, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re pleased to support Bexhill Museum as they offer an innovative insight into the collection of one of the first female travel writers. Many of the items collected by Annie Brassey are not currently on display and this project will ensure people can access them and learn about the heritage stories they can tell”

About Bexhill Museum: Bexhill Museum is an independent charity. If you would like to support us please become a member or make a donation. We welcome new volunteers to help us with all aspects of running the museum. Please contact us to find out more Bexhill Museum is open from Tuesday to Friday 10am to 5pm; Saturday, Sunday & Monday 11am to 5pm. Current Special Exhibitions: ‘Bexhill and Abroad’ explores our World Cultures Collections and their connections to Bexhill (2nd February – 6 th December). ‘Something Old Something New’ showcases the museums exquisite collection of wedding dresses from 1850-2015 (2nd February – 6 th December). (Charity No: 1102638)

About Louise Kenward: Intrigued by the discovery that there are three places in the world called Bexhill, Louise set out to find them. ‘Bexhill to Bexhill’ is an account of that journey, inspired by the local travel writer, collector and philanthropist, Annie Brassey, and the possibility of travelling almost entirely by train. Louise Kenward is a visual artist based in the UK. With an interest in the ‘betwixt and between’ of the liminal, her work explores this with regards to the physical spaces we inhabit and the mental spaces we dwell. Having completed her MA in Fine Art in 2011, her paper “Self, space and objects: relational practice through the experience of spaces” brought together arts and psychology practice, with a framework of ‘inhabiting spaces’.

Heritage Lottery Fund: From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, we use National Lottery players’ money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about.

For further information, images and interviews, please contact:

Louise Kenward, Project Manager at Bexhill Museum on 01424 787950 Bexhill Museum, Egerton Road, Bexhill on Sea TN39 3HL

Twitter: @bexhill2bexhill @bexhillmuseum

Bexhill Museum Logo


Next steps…proposal writing (planning for time with Annie).

For the completeness of the blog I thought I would share my reflections on the next stages of this project. My plans were always to ‘revisit’ Annie, spending time at Bexhill Museum with some of the objects she brought back from her travels, with space and time to reconsider my relationship with her, the letters I’ve written and places we have both visited. This is something I have been really looking forward to and I hope will round off my journey by returning to the place it started and the person who played such a key role, as companion and inspiration.

With this intention made there are various hoops to jump before this can take place. Most importantly the demanding and gruelling task of applying for funding…the words that strike horror and awe in equal measure. The rarity of getting something supported by public funding at all, let alone in this current climate, has made it an increasingly demanding process. It is enormously time consuming, time that must be given freely.

So I am boldly embarking on a quest to apply for funding. Preparing and writing proposals is demanding and requires a lot of planning and research. It has taken much of my time since returning to the UK, in meetings, discussions, writings and phone calls. It requires a good deal of patience and commitment, as well as copious amounts of tea. It is a lengthy and tedious process at times, requiring incredible detail and foresight. Each time, successful or otherwise, however, it has been a useful process. It makes me think about what I am intending, why and who it is for. Each new conversation raises something I hadn’t thought of, or brings a new perspective. It forces me to write in a different way, for a different audience. It brings a new light to the work and opens up new directions. Proposal writing is an art in itself, and one that develops my thinking and my work. This makes it a valuable experience, whatever the outcome, but ideas and thoughts about the project have moved on. I hope I have the chance to share my ideas and plans. Fingers crossed…

Le Meurice

Annie certainly knew how to travel. On her first trip, a train journey to Switzerland, she stopped at Paris and stayed at Le Meurice. Le Meurice is still there, with rooms that still overlook the Jardin des Tuileries. I didn’t get past reception but did enjoy the most expensive pot of chocolat I have ever had. A heady cocktail of very rich chocolat and chandeliers set me up for an afternoon walking round Paris.

Bexhill to Bexhill

Le Meurice, Paris (Louise Kenward, 2014)

Bexhill to Bexhill

Chocolat at Le Meurice (Louise Kenward, 2014)

Bexhill to Bexhill

Le Meurice, Paris (Louise Kenward, 2014)


Paris with Annie

After three months back in the UK it is time to make new plans. Next month I get back on the train and take the ‘budget’ Orient Express route to Venice. On my way to an arts residency in Italy I will stop in Paris and Turin before reaching wonderful Venice. Heading south I will join seven other artists for a 7 day residency.

Plans are still germinating for what follows between leaving Italy and reaching Vienna. Reconnecting with friends made in Canada, a trip to the Christmas markets was arranged while in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Another journey another journal. Hotel Meurice, Paris may not be my accommodation during this stay, but I shall find it and marvel at the views of the Tuileries Garden Annie enjoyed. With the interiors designed by Philippe Starck, Le Meurice is described as ‘one of the most elegant hotels in the world’. Her first journey through Europe to Switzerland, Annie Alnutt as she was then, travelled by train. Again, I suspect our journeys will be rather different but with parallels nonetheless.

Botanical Gardens, St Petersburg

“I hope to discover that these were here when you visited Annie [Annie Brassey]. I’ve yet to learn more of your time in St Petersburg, but I think I can assume there wasn’t a burlesque club opposite. The rivers would have been here though, palaces and churches…
It is a welcome sanctuary from Nevsky Prospect [the Botanic Gardens]. Tour completed, spoken entirely in Russian, I am none the wiser but enjoyed access to the temperate green houses. The warmth and luscious greenery of the inside contrasted starkly with the lacklustre and bitter cold of outside.
…Collected small stone and three acorns. Admission ticket stitched into diary and leaf that fell from tree as I was writing.”