Our wonderful exhibition ‘Best Wishes’ has been open for over a month now and hopefully you’ve had the chance to come and see it. I thought as a way to entice you to visit the exhibition if you haven’t already would be to tell you the story of the inspiration behind ‘Best Wishes’; Emily Gair Greg.
Born in 1870, Emily, or ‘Emmy’ as she was affectionately known, was the daughter of Henry Russell Greg, (and great-granddaughter of Quarry Bank Mill founder Samuel Greg) who contributed to the Greg business empire, by running the Greg’s mill at Reddish.
In contrast to the popular perception of Victorian parents, particularly fathers, as being distant and somewhat unloving, Emmy’s relationship with her family paints a different picture, and Emmy appears to have been the centre of family life. Sadly, Emmy died at the tender age of six when she caught scarlet fever and became gravely ill.
Her family missed her desperately and she was remembered through countless letters as well as through diaries, prayers and poems. Henry Russell wrote that she was “a sweet dear good little girl as ever was – the whole of her character was so perfectly satisfactory. It was all of the highest promise.”
A year after her death, her father wrote to his eldest daughter Elizabeth Mary about the plans he had set in place to make Emmy’s birthday a memorial day and to provide funds so that each year one hundred children from the Stockport Workhouse could have a picnic in the country.
Before her death, Emmy loved sending cards to members of her family, particularly her mother and her aunt, and these are on display at ‘Best Wishes’, along with Emmy’s christening cup and a locket containing a lock of her hair and a portrait of Emmy, which have kindly been lent to us by one of the Greg family descendants.
The exhibition will be closing in April so don’t miss the opportunity to see not only Emmy’s cards, but a whole range of cards for every occasion sent in the Victorian era.