For many Londoners, this weekend is all about a sunny pub garden, parks and chocolate binges. However, not forgetting the reason behind the Bank Holiday, I’ve searched through the online collections to bring you a bitesize list of our top five Easter objects.
1. Pupils with a rabbit at Prior Weston Pimary School, 1976 (Henry Grant Collection)
Though the Easter bunny originated from German Lutheran custom, rabbits (or, hares more specifically) have been associated with springtime since ancient times, and often symbolised fertility. Here, school children play with a rabbit close to the Barbican Estate.
2. World War I charity egg-shaped emblem, 1971.
Though not technically Easter related, this flagday emblem from 1917 takes the shape of an egg, often seen as the classic Easter symbol due to its association with rebirth, a theme synonymous with springtime. In this case the egg is made of lithographed paper rather than chocolate and was sold to raise money for the ‘National Egg collection’ fund for wounded servicemen. The scheme encouraged poultry farmers and individuals who kept chickens to donate eggs that were then distributed to military hospitals both at home and in the field. In London, as few people kept chickens the charity sold flags, such as this to raise money to purchase additional eggs. By January 1918 the fund had sent over seven million eggs to hospitals at home and over 25 million to hospitals abroad.
3. ‘Hot Cross Bunns, two a penny buns’ print by Henri Merke and Thomas Rowlandson, 1799
Popular with street sellers, as this print shows, buns made from enriched dough had been popular since Roman times. Traditionally eaten during Lent, during the time of Elizabeth I the London Clerk of Markets forbade the sale of hot cross buns at any other time than Good Friday, Christmas and burials!
4. Ceramic ‘river egg’, 2012
Made in 2012 by an anonymous artist, this stoneware sculpture is 2664 of 5000 ‘river eggs’ which were fired in a wood-fired kiln and then laid out in the shape of the River Thames on the South Downs, Sussex, as a work of art. The eggs were then deposited on Easter weekend 6th – 9th April 2012 into the River Thames near the Dartford Tunnel. All the eggs are either hand engraved or stamped with their number and the word ‘London’.
5. Photograph of St Paul’s Cathedral by floodlight (Henry Grant Collection)
For some Londoners, the Easter weekend is a time for prayer and celebration. St Paul’s Cathedral in the City is a popular place for Christians to spend the ‘holy season’ and one of the most recognisable shapes on the London skyline.