Words of romance

For Valentine’s Day we are looking at items in our archive collection with the theme of love and romance.



Originally published in 1883, Pan-Pipes is book of old songs, many of which are based on love and romance.  Composer Theo Marzials arranged the songs and accompaniments and artist Walter Crane created beautiful illustrations to accompany them.


Pan-Pipes demonstrates some of Crane’s best decorative work with detailed divisions, subdivisions and panels on each page. The theme of each song is worked as an idea into the main composition.  This can be seen in the detailed patterns on the panels framing the lovers (above) and the quirky cherubs in the top and bottom sections. The main composition may be basic but surrounding sections are interesting making the page visually balanced.


Another fine example of Crane’s work. Here we see the flowers mentioned in the song worked into the intricate borders.  Each flower has a symbolic meaning: primrose – eternal love; lily – purity; pink – courtesy; red rose – true love and willow – love forsaken or sorrow.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th century Chivalric romance written in stanzas of alliterative verse. Our edition isn’t quite 14th century and was published by The Royal College of Art’s ‘The Lion and Unicorn Press’ in 1956.  It was translated in the original metre by Ormerod Greenwood and includes lithographs by Roy Morgan.


The poem outlines an adventure of Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table.  The story tells of a ‘Green Knight’ who is completely green, including his hair, skin and clothing. The mysterious knight challenges anyone to strike him with his axe, with one condition.  The challenger must take a blow in return at an agreed time in the future.  Sir Gawain accepts the challenge and the tale details his struggle to meet the appointment.  His adventures along the way demonstrate the spirit of chivalry and loyalty.

If you’d like to view the items featured or anything else in our collections, please get in touch to book a visit: Records and Archives Centre.