On the day that we had breakfast with Brian and Lura, I mentioned that since it was a rainy day I'd go to the Ashmolean Museum and look around there until it was time to meet John for lunch. It's a nice museum and is free and I figured it would be a good day to spend a rainy morning even though I'd been there before.
Lura said she'd heard that there was a Lilias Trotter display at the museum. Lilias Trotter was born in 1853 into a wealthy family. She had a natural gift for art and took some lessons under John Ruskin who assured her she could be a great artist. However, she felt the call of God on her life and became a missionary to Algeria. When I got to the museum, rather than spend all my time wandering around looking for the display, I inquired at the help desk. "No," they told me, "there is no such display here. But let me look it up just to make sure." The Help Lady's research showed that there were, indeed, some of Lilias Trotter's paintings in the archives room in a sketch book that had belonged to John Ruskin and would I like to see them. Sure! So she called the archives and then took me down stairs. I had to lock all of my belongings in a locker and then go and wash my hands. Then she took me into a room where the sketch books had been laid out on felt and let me have a look. She also asked would I like to see a facsimile of one of Lilias Trotter's journals. It was so cool to be allowed a peek into her private life. She wrote about the work in Algeria, the joys and the frustrations: about new believers who were keeping the fast, others who could not take the pressure from families and had gone back to their religion. Her journals were art journals before art journaling was in. On most pages there was a water color painting about one of the people in her stories or of a room or a building. They were really beautiful. Her writing was really hard to read so I didn't read it all, but her mission work sounds so similar to what we have done here.
Since I could not take any personal belongings into the room, I don't have any pictures, but here is one I got off the internet.
I also just want to say how impressed I was with the way the Help Lady and the Archives Lady went out of their way to show me something I showed an interest in.
If you'd like to find out more about Lilias Trotter, this seems to be a good website: ililiastrotter.wordpress.com . There is also a documentary about Miss Trotter that I'd like to see that's called Many Beautiful Things.
I did still have time to look at some of the other sections of the museum. This was the Dutch Masters room. If you're ever in Oxford and if you like art museums, make sure you visit the Ashmolean!