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That was Newhaven!

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

I thought I'd post the guide to my Newhaven Museum Make Believe Museum Shop for those that couldn't visit my exhibition this September.


Welcome! This is a collection of objects that I would like to buy in a museum shop of my dreams, after a visit to Newhaven Museum. It is inspired by the museum’s diverse collection that relates to local heritage and the maritime history of Newhaven and the surrounding area.


Mermaid’s Purse

There is a mermaid’s purse tucked away in a case filled with sea shore treasures at the back of the museum. Of course it’s not a real purse, it’s a shark or ray egg case. But in my shop you will find a real mermaid’s purse. I imagine it is made in a local purse factory and it is one of the shop’s best sellers.

Shell Maiden

There is a shell covered box in the collection that reminded me of all the shell ‘ornaments’ that I used to make as a child on holiday in Cornwall. Shell maidens were a common sight in the souvenir shops of my youth and I’d definitely buy one from my Make Believe Museum Shop.

Portrait of a Rock Pool

Exploring the natural history section of the museum inspired this rock pool jigsaw puzzle. I have always wanted a vintage information poster about rock pools, so I set about designing my own. It didn’t quite come about so I still desire a poster, but I did make a 3D rock pool diorama, inspired by work by Eileen Agar. Compiling a list of all the plants and creatures to inhabit my pool taught me a lot about the British coastline. It appears that the South Coast is a more barren environment for sea shore life because of our rather hostile pebbles and lack of sand. 3D dioramas take a long time to make and are not commercially viable, so I have turned it into a jigsaw puzzle.

Echinoid Ring

One of my favourite pastimes on a Sussex beach is to look for fossils. There is a small collection on the museum, including a tiny echinoid (sea urchin fossil) which I really want. Instead of stealing it, I decided to ask my friend Oriana to make me a ring inspired by the echinoid. I moulded and carved a tiny echinoid and Oriana made it into a silver ring for my museum shop.


Ropey Ray

Thanks to the display of sailors’ knots, I have become obsessed with them. The Ashley Book of Knots is now my Desert Island book (should I ever be on that radio program). Ropey Ray is in my shop to encourage visitors to try their hand at tying knots. He takes his name from Clarence Ray, a sailor on the Cutty Sark, whose beautiful chest lid is in the museum.


I just couldn’t resist designing tattoos. All seaside museums should have them. If I ever had a tattoo it would have to be a classic sailor design. I have failed to find out the history of tattoo parlours in Newhaven. If you know anything about them, I’d love to find out more.

Sailor's Pin Cushion

Examples of gifts made by sailors prompted me to explore the idea of sailor’s pin cushions, a very common memento sent home to loved ones during WW1. The one stocked in my shop features an anchor, a symbol of Hope and an emblem associated with Newhaven and used by The Dockers, Newhaven's football team.

Nautical Mittens

I struggle to tell left from right. My shop sells mittens that use nautical alphabet flags to help the wearer work out which way to turn by merely glancing at their hands. The letters L and R are on the palms of the gloves for extra security.

Designed and knitted by Sarah Lawrence

Senlac Puzzle

The great thing about having a make believe shop is that you get to work with anyone you want to. So I would stock this make believe Galt wooden jigsaw puzzle, with scenes of life below deck behind the pieces. This is Senlac, a ship that plied the Newhaven Dieppe route from 1973 - 1985. It was Newhaven’s own ship and the last to be manned by a Newhaven crew.


I asked my good friend Diana at Dolly Clothing in Lewes to develop this fantastic sou’wester sewing kit, inspired by the magnificent specimen in the lifeboat display case. Visitors are invited to make their own and brave the British summer in style.

Lifeboat Post Card

Newhaven had its own lifeboat in 1803, 21 years before the birth of the RNLI in 1824. This postcard features just a few of the Newhaven lifeboats. You can cut them out and watch them race across a tray of water, powered by a drop of household oil.


Fantasy Quink Ink Colours

Until I visited the museum I didn’t know that Parker Pens, who were based in Newhaven from 1921 - 2009, were responsible for Quink Ink. As well as Parker Pens my shop would stock my favourite Permanent Red ink and two fictitious colours, Kelly Green and Colonel Mustard.

Ginger Beer Tankards

Inspired by the ceramic James Peters ginger beer bottles on display in the museum I created these special tankards. The style is based on a 19th century mug made in Sussex that is in the collection in the V&A.



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