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Cook Museum Whitby

2016 Exhibition - Wives and Sweethearts: the Sailor’s Farewell

Behind every ship sent exploring to the Pacific were all the wives and sweethearts left ashore.

How did Elizabeth Cook, Elizabeth Bligh ('my darling Betsy') and the wives of other officers and seamen cope with the long absence of their husbands or promised sweethearts?

What were sailors favourite love tokens? How did women with children manage on their own? Our exhibition explores these questions with some rarely seen relics of Elizabeth Cook and other women. They shine a light on the varied lives and loves of voyagers’ wives, their pastimes and networks, as well as some of their personal tragedies.

And then there were some whose ‘Returning Hopes’ of their promised sweethearts were dashed by broken promises, one example being Sir Joseph Banks. And there were always a few of the crew who hoped to stay in the South Seas and live a life with their Polynesian sweethearts!

Community Stitch Project

In January 2016, we began a community stitch project to run alongside the exhibition. This brought together over 50 people from Whitby stitching groups to create a wonderfully rich piece of textile art.

Taking the ‘The Sailor’s Farewell’ print as the starting point, we divided it into squares which could be stitched and then sewn together. Each person would bring their own skills and interests to their square, using whatever materials they chose, whilst retaining the muted colours of the print.

A stitched patch

The Sailor’s Farewell textile piece is on display in the Museum until November 6th 2016. For further information, contact our Community Liaison Officer at cookmuseumwhitbyclo@hotmail.co.uk


Elizabeth Bligh

Above: left: Elizabeth Bligh, pastel by John Russell © CCMM


The finished piece being assembled:

Assembling the patches

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