The antique chests of the Bourne Hall Museum in Surrey will be revealing their secrets in a series of articles to be published in the Epsom Guardian newspaper.
Bourne Hall is a striking modernistic building surrounded by the landscaped grounds of the original 18th Century mansion that once stood there. It was sold to Epsom and Ewell Council in 1945, but later had to be demolished due to dilapidation. However, the splendid Georgian gateway remains, topped by the sculpture of a Talbot Hound, along with the spring-fed lakes and fountains. Bourne Hall lies close to the Roman road of Stane Street, not far from where Henry VIII built his magnificent Nonsuch Palace. With so much history surrounding it, the hall was the obvious site for a council-funded museum. As well as 750 boxes of archaeological artefacts, it houses a collection of almost 14,000 historical items, including paintings, costumes, tools, household wares and antique furniture dating back to the 16th Century.
As in Cumbria, putting Victorian dining chairs on display can be problematic, especially in a venue which also doubles as a public library, entertainment venue and community centre. Only 5 per cent of the museum collections can be exhibited at any one time, and while people can ask to see more, the curator admits that in practice this rarely happens. Therefore, he jumped at the chance to open the vaults for the Epsom Guardian which, in the ensuing weeks, will be placing the spotlight on some of the unique items normally hidden from public eyes.
Antique dealers often have items of local interest for sale. For example, Victorian dining chairs made by Lancashire craftsmen can be found in towns like Preston.
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