World Class Treasures coming to Kettering

Some world class treasures are on their way home to Kettering Borough Council’s
Manor House Museum.

Three precious archaeological objects – a 1500-year-old necklace, a mysterious mirror and a quirky Roman hockey player will be on loan from the British Museum for the Local Treasures exhibition which starts on Saturday 22 September. Alongside them will be over 100 items from the Manor House Museum’s own collection.

This exciting project is possible due to a successful bid to the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund which resulted in a grant of £20,000. Created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund, this fund supports the sharing of art and objects that are held in national collections with wider audiences.

The three stars of the exhibition were found in the borough of Kettering. This marks the first time for these objects to return since they were first discovered and donated to the British Museum in the late 19th and early 20th century. They are:

  • The Desborough necklace: a stunning Anglo-Saxon gold necklace that was found in 1876 in a graveyard by workmen who originally broke it into six pieces to share amongst themselves before being persuaded to hand them over in return for a small reward
  • The Desborough mirror: one of the finest examples of Celtic art. The mirror would have been a powerful object in a world where reflections could only be glimpsed in water, and there is conjecture as to who the owner may have been
  • The Kettering hockey player: a unique and intriguing depiction of a Roman sportsman. Is the figure playing a form of hockey and, if so, then why are there three balls?

Click to enlarge

The mirror and necklace are usually on permanent display at the British Museum – such is their quality.

These will be complemented by beautiful, precious and interesting items from the Manor House Museum’s own collection. From an Iron-age sword to a bejewelled Roman hair pin, the museum collection tells the history of the borough through the passions and treasured objects of the people who lived here. There’s even a Roman ear cleaner in the collection which just goes to show how fastidious the Romans were about their personal grooming!

Cllr Scott Edwards, Kettering Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community and Leisure, said: “It’s fantastic news to hear that these treasures are coming back to our Borough for the first time and that local people will have the chance to see them. It’s also a great opportunity for us to showcase many treasures from our permanent collection. I heartily congratulate staff and volunteers who have made this happen and I would like to thank the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund for their support.”

Kettering Museum staff had stiff competition to win this award. Philippa Charles, Garfield Weston Foundation director said: “We have been blown away by the ambition and creativity of museums and galleries across the UK and Kettering’s idea really stood out.

 Some of the most talented curators in the UK have imagined the art, objects and exhibitions which promise to transform the experiences of their audiences. We are delighted that the local community in Kettering will get to see these amazing archaeological treasures.”

Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund director, added: “We knew the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund addressed a vital need: our national museums want to widen access to the collections they hold, and institutions around the UK want to share these works with their audiences. The response has been overwhelming. We’re pleased to provide the means to enable the greater sharing of art, but, just as importantly, to help empower museums to realise their ambitions.”

‘Local Treasures: The British Museum comes to Kettering, opens at the Manor House Museum in Kettering on Saturday 22 September 2018 and runs until Saturday 12 January 2019.
There is no charge for entry and there will be a programme of free events on offer.

Additional funding for the exhibition has been granted by Museum Development East Midlands and Kettering Borough Council.

Anyone wanting regular updates as the exhibition approaches can visit www.ThisisKettering.com/LocalTreasures where you can sign up to receive the Local Treasures eNewsletter. You can also find out more by calling the Museum on 01536 534 219.

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