Object of the Month: April 2017

An Ostrich egg painted with the insignia of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

Each month we shine a spotlight on one of the objects from the museum’s extensive collection, to be featured as our ‘Object of the Month’ on social media.  As an Easter special, the object we’ve chosen for April is our incredible and fragile pair of Ostrich eggs.

Two colourful and highly decorated hand-painted Ostrich eggs sit in a display case surrounded by smaller artefacts. The eggs on the right has the DCLI insignia and the egg on the left is decorated in handwritten script
A pair of Ostrich Eggs dating back to the Boer War

You may have seen the image of the egg on the right in our Easter publicity, but did you know that this egg is part of a pair which we have on display right here in the museum? This amazing pair of eggs is one of the many items here which often surprise and delight our visitors.
The egg on the left dates from 1900 and the Boer War. The hand painted inscription on one side reads:

‘This ostrich egg is one of 16 found in a nest near our trenches at Zoutpans Drift, Orange Free State on 5th January 1900, being the first men to march into the state since the campaign began.’

And on the other:

– Pro Patria Mori –
This egg, after being blown, made a breakfast for 8 soldiers, with biscuits.
Presented to A Spittle, Flowery Field Hotel – Hyde, from Private W Cooke – Cornwall Light Infantry.
– South Africa –

The egg was presented to the museum by Mrs A Brookes of Preston, Lancs, whose father was Mr Spittle. Private Cook gave him the egg on his return from the Boer War.
The more recognisable egg on the right was bought by Mrs P B Norris in 1901 from a Burmese shop in Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka). The DCLI badge was hand painted by a Serjeant in the regiment. This egg was presented to the museum by Mrs F C Neale, daughter of Colonel PB Norris, DCLI.
We have no way of knowing whether this egg was one of the 16 eggs found in the nest at Zoutpans Drift (South Africa) the year before, but isn’t it a lovely thought! Both eggs are extremely well travelled, having come across the seas to nest right here in Cornwall.
The eggs are on display under the Boer War section of our first floor gallery. 

Visit our Visitor Information page for directions, entrance rates and more.

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