10 Facts About Our Items on Display at the Guildhall, Barnstaple

1. There Are Several items on Display in the Dodderidge Room of the Guildhall.

The room itself was rescued from a house in Cross Street when it was pulled down to make way for new post office. The wooden panelling, fireplace and original window were then relocated to its current home just behind the council chamber. The post office itself was eventually closed and is now home to a firm of solicitors.

2. One of Our Items Has Recently Returned from a Trip Abroad

The Priors Ring spent part of the year at the Musée des Antiquités in Rouen. It was loaned for an exhibition on the Judaism in Medieval Northern Europe where it was displayed alongside other items including rings from the British Museum and a Spice Box from the V&A.

3. The Priors Ring Was Found in a Ball of Clay Under the Root of a Tree in 1867.

Thought to have belonged to the Prior of Pilton Priory it is believed the ring was hidden for safe keeping during the dissolution of the monasteries. The ring was probably made some time in the late 12th century or early 13th. The ring has two inscriptions on it, one in Latin, the other in Hebrew.

4. We have 20 Silver Spoons given to us by Dr Wilfred Harris.

Dr Harris donated the collection of spoons to us on 29th November 1950. Each spoon was made here in Barnstaple and North Devon.

5. The Silver Spoons were Made Using Silver Mined from Combe Martin and Barnstaple.

The silver mines at Combe Martin were discovered towards the end of the 13th century and there is evidence they were worked off and on up until the 19th century. Some of the silver mined at Combe Martin can be found in the crown jewels.

6. The Spoons Were Displayed in the Guildhall for the First Time for a Royal Visit.

The Spoons had previously been on display in the Athenaeum building, but they were put on display in the Guildhall for a visit from the Queen in 1956. Whilst in the Athenaeum they were not on show all the time as they were stored in the strong room at weekends and during the summer holidays.

Royal Visit 1956 [BWO-Bx05-81]

7. We Also Have a Silver Salver on Display.

The Salver was presented to Daniel Tremlett Brewer who was the Land Steward to the Fortescue family at Castle Hill for many years. We also have a link with the family as Lord Fortescue traditionally acts as our President.

8. The Salver is Older than it First Appears.

The inscription on the salver tells us it was given to Daniel Tremlett Brewer in 1975 in recognition of his service to the Fortescue family. The hallmark, however, shows it to be older as it was assayed in London in 1802.

9. There is a Freedom Casket in Our Collection.

The Casket was given to Dr Henry John Edwards, a music Professor, when he was given the Honorary Freedom of Barnstaple in 1907. He was only the second person to be given the honour since 1835, the first being the political cartoonist Sir Francis Carruthers Gould.

10. We have Two full Orchestral Scores by Henry J Edwards On Loan with the North Devon Record Office.

The Scores are from the early 20th Century one called “The Risen Lord” the other “Hymn of Victory and Peace” which may have been produced in commemoration of the end of the First World War.

For more information about the Guildhall visit Barnstaple Town Council’s website

…Barum Athena

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