Do you recognise this symbol? Is it a tepee? Maybe a camping tent symbol for a state, logoprovince or county camping business? Maybe a symbol for a mountain? Maybe it is an A designed on a standardised test to trick children? Well, really, none of these will do. I hope you become very familiar with this symbol, because it represents a place that should be very familiar to anyone in the Charlotte Mason education movement. This symbol is the logo for the Armitt Museum and Library.

What is the Armitt Museum and Library? It is a small library and museum in Ambleside, England that celebrates the culture of the English Lake District. The Armitt’s website says, “Founded by poets, artists and writers as the quintessence of the cultural Lake District. The Armitt is one of Britain’s rarest small museums.” These are true statements and you will know them as true if you have ever been to the Armitt. It is small and it is rare. It contains extraordinary cultural material from the Lake District such as some exquisite water colours by Beatrix Potter and paintings by Kurt Schwitters. But why is it important to the Charlotte Mason education movement and why should we care?

First, it is important to the Charlotte Mason education movement because it houses something very dear to those of us who like to research and study the life and work of Charlotte Mason. The Armitt houses Mason’s archive. It is our source to understanding Mason. While the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection is becoming increasingly important to us all and provides easy access to the archive that has been digitised, the Armitt remains the place that houses the physical archive the whole of which has not been digitised. That’s another project for someday soon we hope. But for now the question remains, why should we even care?

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Outside the Armitt are sands bags to prevent internal flooding.

We should care because we want the physical archive protected and preserved for future research and study. For example, researchers of Mason’s life and work can find many artefacts and much important information in the archive that is not contained within Mason’s six volumes.  Can you image what would happen if we could not access the digital collection or the physical collection?  The physical collection needs to be protected and preserved into the future so there is always a means to “check” the digital collection.

Second, we would never want the archive to go into storage or to someplace where it will not be taken care of. Is this a possibility? Maybe. If you have paid attention to the weather reports from England you will know that the storm, Desmond, caused severe damage in the Lake District and in other places throughout England. Funds are limited and needed for restoration work because of the severe damage done by Desmond.

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You can see the slush and mud between the Armitt and Low Nook where Elsie Kitching lived in her retirement years.

Third, the Armitt is privately funded. It does not have a local, state or national government behind it. It is only funded by those who value the contents of the Museum and Library. Those contents are extremely important to us. We want all the contents of the museum preserved and especially the Mason archive. Without the Mason archive our research and study would be extremely limited.

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One of the ground floor galleries at the Armitt.

When we combine together the issue of funding and the recent disasters caused by Desmond, you can begin to see a problem emerging. In the recent storm the entire downstairs of the Armitt was ruined by flooding and has to be redone. This is a small museum that runs off the funds of donors and therefore is not wealthy. Sometimes, even without a storm such as Desmond, the Armitt runs a deficient. That is to say there are no extra funds. It isn’t a wealthy place. And as a result of the storm damages, the Armitt is in need of our help. See the pictures.

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Here is another view of the same gallery.

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All the galleries downstairs have to be stripped, cleaned and re-carpeted.

The circumstances are dire and we want to protect the Mason Archive and in so doing protect the Beatrix Potter archive and other parts of the collection as well. The Mason archive is certainly most important to us, but just think about the joy and delight that Beatrix Potter has brought to so many North American children as well as children around the world especially within the Commonwealth of Nations. In supporting the Armitt through this difficult time, you will be helping to protect cultural artefacts that reach far beyond just the English Lake District. These cultural artefacts are valued by many of us in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Africa, Japan and other places. They have become world cultural artefacts. Can you help save them for future generations? For those of you in the US, if you have any extra funds, maybe $10, $100 or more, you can give to the Armitt, send them to CMI for a tax deduction receipt (P. O. Box 20571, Roanoke, VA 24018 or you can go on our website and donate through PayPal). If a receipt is not important to you, simply go on the museum’s website at this link: http://armitt.com/armitt_website/contact/ and donate through the Armitt’s PayPal account. Those of you who live within the Commonwealth of Nations may have an easier means to donate.  If you have ideas about how individuals within the Commonwealth can give, please share those with us.

Most importantly the Armitt needs your help.  Will you help?

 

(I used British spellings in this post to be in solidarity with our British friends at the Armitt.)

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