William Wise came from very humble beginnings, living in the parish workhouse when young. Encouraged by a teacher who saw his potential he took night classes, worked first as an errand boy and then as an apprentice in John Ching’s chemist’s shop. When qualified, he moved to Helston where he married. He then returned to Launceston where he became a partner in Ching’s before taking over the whole business. A successful businessman, he served as a town councillor and as Mayor of Launceston 3 times. He was a keen photographer, cyclist and bell-ringer but an even keener botanist and collected over 1000 plants which he identified, preserved and bound into the 6 great volumes on display at Lawrence House Museum.
Every week a new page is turned to reveal a plant in bloom for the time of year and is displayed alongside a photograph of the same plant.
Details of the plants he collected are available online at Herberia @ Home.
People’s Herbarium Walks & Printmaking Workshops
Local Launceston artist and printmaker, Karen Howse, who has done artists’ residencies at the National Trust site at Dunsland in North Devon under the auspices of the National Trust and at Cyprus Well for the Causley Trust and who has exhibited all over the southern UK and in Sweden, initially trained in textile design but has an MA in Fine Art and studied Art Therapy, has been inspired by Wise’s Herbarium to produce the People’s Herbarium this coming year, a project that will involve nature walks and print workshops at both the museum and Launceston Library..
Let her explain: “I am so excited to be working with Dr Damon Dennis, the new curator, and with museum volunteers, who have a wealth of knowledge and skills that will be invaluable to this project. When visiting the museum I love to peer through the glass case at the pressed plants in Wise’s Herbarium. The project is to bring them to life making Launceston’s very own modern day People’s Herbarium in the process. We will be walking the paths and lanes of Launceston to collect, identify and press plants. I will also lead a series of print workshops to make prints from the plants collected. Other processes on oﬀer in the workshops are the magical old cyanotype process using light sensitive paper and the sun when it appears! There will also be plant drawing workshops in the garden room later in the year. We want to put on related displays to enthuse the public and utilise some of the printing equipment in the museum’s stores to appeal to all ages and interests.”
Karen will be working in the museum garden and garden room, then in the exhibition room in the summer, where we can show case the project so far. The event will run from the museum’s opening at the end of March until it closes in October so spanning the seasons.
Karen will lead a People’s Herbarium walk from the museum on Monday 6 April from 2 – 3.30pm, Sunday 26th July 2 – 3.30pm (as part of the Causley Festival), and there will be People’s Herbarium Print Workshops in the garden room at the museum from 10am – 3pm on Tuesday 7 April, Tuesday 26 April, Monday 22 June and Friday 3 July. Look out for more People’s Herbarium events at www.karenhowse.com and www.lawrencehousemuseum.org on the internet. On Instagram check out the_peoples_herbarium and Twitter @LawrenceHouseMu and the museum Facebook page.
Thanks to funding from the partners FEAST and Cornwall Museums Partnership through their Bright Sparks Fund, the project will be free to attend.