While the museum is closed to visitors, we’re taking advantage of the space in our Normanby Room to clean items of silver from the collection.
“The silver we have on permanent display along the whole length of this room is impressive, but that’s by no means the extent of the museum’s collection,” says Director, Lynda Powell.
“Being closed is incredibly challenging, but, in an attempt to take positives from the situation, we are at least able to get hundreds of items out of store, and use the museum space available to check their condition, clean them if needed and update our extensive records.”
Many of the pieces currently being given some attention are practical items like mustard pots which would have been used at mess dinners.
They show great workmanship and often give us information about the person who donated the piece of silver to the mess.
One of the items of silver in store is a mustard pot presented by Colonel H W B Thorp DSO. Herbert Thorp joined the regiment in the mid 1890s and served during the South African Wars and First World War, being Mentioned in Despatches on seven occasions during his career.
Silver plays a great part in the traditions of all army regiments. Officers’ and Sergeants’ Messes had their own silver, of which they were very proud.
“These are treasures. They are part of the tradition of service and martial pride which is the heritage of those to whom they belong. We are all brought up to regard them as symbols of great achievements of the glorious past……These silver tokens are a constant reminder of the loyalty and deep sense of duty of our forbearers and an incentive to all of us to try and do better.”
Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer
The silver would travel with the regiment or battalion, wherever they were stationed, and be in regular use in the Mess.
Often, silver was purchased by subscription by members of the Mess; other pieces were donated by other regiments, local towns or by individuals, usually to mark a significant event such as promotion, marriage or retirement.
Pieces from the museum’s silver collection which have never been on public display will feature in our next special exhibition, Treasures in Store, when we re-open.