I bought this brooch at the Athelstan Museum in Malmesbury. It is made of felt and was made by hand in Nepal.  He/She is adorable, and I couldn’t resist.  My collection has brooches made of a wide variety of materials, but there are not many made from fabric.  Felt making is an ancient technique which is passed down through the generations using wool from sheep.  There are two main types of felting. ‘Wet’ felting where the wool is immersed in soapy water and agitated and rolled resulting in the fibres becoming entangled and binding together.  The felted fibres are rinsed and dried, this type of felting is mainly used for making rugs and cushions.  ‘Needle’ is a dry technique which uses barbed needles to interlock the wool fibres.  This method is used to created more intricate designs and will have been the one used on my tiger.

The brooch represents the Tiger who killed Hannah Twynnoy.  Hannah worked as a servant at the White Lion Inn at the beginning of the 18th century.  In 1703 a menagerie of exotic animals arrived at the White Lion Inn, Hannah was warned not to tease or provoke the tiger, but she did not heed the advice.  On the 23rd October the tiger had had enough and mauled Hannah to death.  I cannot find a record of what happened to the tiger.  Hannah’s death is recorded in the Malmesbury parish register – it records a burial on 23rd October 1703 of “Hannah Twynney kild by a Tygre at ye White Lyon”.  In Malmesbury Abbey graveyard there is a gravestone with the inscription

In Memory of Hannah Twynnoy

Who died October 23rd 1703
Aged 33 years
In bloom of life
She’s snatch’d from hence
She had not room to make defence;
For Tyger fierce
took life away.
And here she lies in a bed of Clay
Until the resurrection Day

Hannah Twynnoy gravestone at Malmesbury Abbey

Tigers are the largest of the ‘big’ cats.  According to the WWF the worldwide tiger population has stabilised and is showing signs of being on the rise.  There are 5,574 tigers in the wild in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia and China.

In Russia, Amur tiger numbers have increased by 15% in the past 10 years to around 540 animals (Getty Images)