6. Canal Art

The traditions of the canals

Stool painted with traditional roses and castles

One of the most famous traditions of the English canals is the distinctive style of folk art known as "roses and castles" with which the boats and equipment were decorated. The tradition is kept alive by many of today's leisure boaters but the museum has a collection of original traditional painted items on display. Nobody is quite sure how "roses and castles" started - there are many theories but no real evidence. We do know however that the tradition of painting boats in this way goes back to the early and mid nineteenth century when the boatmen and their families began to live afloat.