Leeds ,

Leeds Museums and Galleries object of the week- Florence Nightingale’s writing desk

Small and simply designed, few would guess that this modest writing desk once belonged to one of history’s most iconic women.

Fashioned from walnut and mahogany, the desk was the property of Florence Nightingale, the famous Lady of the Lamp, and is one of a number of exhibits currently on display at Lotherton Hall which give an unprecedented insight into her life.

Part of the hall’s new Our Cousin Florence exhibition, the desk dates from the 1840s and was brought to Lotherton by Florence’s god-daughter, Gwendolen Gascoigne.

Gwendolen was once the Lady of Lotherton Hall and her mother Marianne was Miss Nightingale’s cousin.

Florence enjoyed a close bond with her cousins and wrote numerous letters to Marianne which told of her frustrations with the aristocratic path she was expected to follow.

As well as the desk, a selection of those previously unseen letters are on display alongside paintings, childhood sketches, jewellery and toys.

Key fashion pieces of the period including a day dress and evening dress similar to those that Florence and her cousins would have worn are also part of the exhibition.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “This unique display gives visitors a completely new perspective on a woman who has become such an integral part of our country’s history.

“It’s amazing to think that Florence Nightingale herself once used this desk and wrote the letters that would document such an important period in her life.”

Our Cousin Florence is open at Lotherton Hall until December 31.

For more details on the exhibition, please visit: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/Our-Cousin-Florence.aspx