The Jewels of Jill Hadley Barson

Commemorative Art Pieces to Celebrate A Loving Mum – Artistic, Creative, Successful Naval Officer

Born Jill Hadley in Wolverhampton, England, Jill always wondered why she had no middle name when her siblings did. It seems her mother had wanted to name her “Jill Juliette”, but her mother-in-law forbade it. When she married, she became Jill Barson. Later in life wished she had also kept her Maiden name and to honor this her family used the name Jill Hadley Barson on her gravestone, something they think she would have liked.

 When she was young Jill played violin and trained to be an opera singer, but when the time came time to choose a career (late 1950’s to early 1960’s), she chose the Women’s Royal Naval Service, popularly known as the WRENS. She had a successful career as a Second Officer in command of a squadron and also worked in radar rooms.  In 1964 Jill married Michael Barson. They had three children Jonathan, Mark and Jenny. Jill probably would have remained in the navy except that the rules at the time required women to retire once they married.

 Jill was very artistic and tried her hand at just about every craft. She loved needlework, embroidery, knitting, painting and copper enamel work.  She was also an incredible seamstress. When she went back to work, she sewed a complete business wardrobe for herself and did the same for her daughter, Jen, when she graduated from school and needed business clothes.

Jen remembers her mom also loved to garden and was a voracious reader who could spell anything, always correctly! She will be remembered as creative, extremely intelligent, unintentionally funny and a fiercely protective mother, talented and loving, and who made all three of her children feel special in their own individual way.

There is no question she died way too young and is still greatly missed. To keep her close to her heart, Jen commissioned commemorative pieces to be made from Jill’s jewelry.  These are the pieces that came together.


#1 Amber Beads and Copper Bracelet. Jill wore these beads a lot and kept them even after one of the strings broke. 
#2 Blue Wedgewood. The blue broach set the colour for this piece. We included one lacy silver earring, a tiny blue pendant and finished off with a key and bells.
#3.  J. Jill’s birthstone was the ruby.  We used all the stones in a necklace to create this piece.  Her heart pendant with a butterfly added the final touch.
#4 Kiwis. Jill was British, hence the English rose button, and she must have had some link to New Zealand and the Kiwis who are peering intently at the golden fish. 
#5 The Wren Pin. Jill was a child during World War II and served in the Navy after the war, the latter 1950’s to early 1960’s.  At the top is her naval pin and at the bottom a commemorative coin made with metal from the first ship in the American fleet. In the centre a favourite broach holds it all together.
#6 Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad’s watches are the main features in this piece combined with Jill’s little heart charm and a lucky horseshoe. 
#7. Swirl Pendant. Jill did all sorts of crafts including copper enamel pendants. In this piece, the coloured stones were from a necklace. There are two special WREN pins and also included is the second earring that reminds me of Queen Anne’s Lace.