Treasures in Store: behind the scenes in our museum
From the spoils of war to regulation kit and equipment, sentimental mementoes, official logs and lists, and intensely personal possessions; it’s all here in the museum, but there’s so much more than you could see during a visit.
In this special online exhibition, we unravel the complex journeys some items take to reach us. We reveal objects from our stores, some of which have never been on display, and explain why some never will. You’ll meet the collectors whose personal passions shaped the collection and learn about the ongoing battle to preserve our most fragile objects.
The museum stores are a quiet, hidden world where our treasures sit, carefully wrapped, catalogued and concealed behind the scenes, waiting for their time to shine.
commemoration and curation: a timeline of collection and display
Formation of the regiment. Until the creation of a museum 234 years later, the Mess is used to keep and display important items from the regiment’s past.
Silver starts being purchased for the Mess. Initially, these are practical items, such as cutlery.
Regimental silver, including cups and snuff boxes, is stolen in transit from the Crimean War. The items are never recovered.
By the 1870s officers are presenting decorative silver to mark important moments in their careers. Sporting trophies soon join the jostle for position on Mess sideboards.
Michael Lloyd Ferrar joins the regiment, aged 19. He quickly takes on the role of regimental historian and collector.
Launch of the Green Howards Gazette. The monthly publication raises awareness of the regiment’s history.
Ferrar purchases an image of John Lyons VC and starts buying medals from London auction houses. He also collects items during his service in The South African War, which he later donates to the museum.
Ferrar publishes his account of the War in South Africa 1899-1902
The first published list of silver, medals and pictures displayed in the Officers Mess is included as an appendix in Ferrar’s book, ‘A History of the Service of the 19th Regiment 1688-1911’.
Major Edward Chapman suggests a collection of historical objects should be created at the Regimental Depot at the top of Gallowgate, or ‘Barrack Hill’ in Richmond. “The various bequests would be safer there than carried about from pillar to post by the two battalions,” agrees Major Ferrar.
Chapman starts collecting badges and buttons for the new museum.
Chapman is killed at Gallipoli. His obituary states the collection he created will ensure ‘…he will be known to future Green Howards, when those in whose memory he lives have passed away’.
The regimental memorial is unveiled in Richmond.
A museum opens at the regiment’s depot in Richmond. It moves from room to room. Enthusiasm wanes.
Large numbers of military medals enter the market, due to the economic depression. Ferrar makes regular purchases from London auction houses.
Ferrar publishes ‘Officers of the Green Howards 1688-1931’ It contains a biography of every officer who has served.
Creation of the regimental chapel at St Mary’s Parish Church, Richmond.
Brigadier ‘Tommy’ Collins arrives at The Depot and calls for donations. Ferrar donates his personal medal collection. By the end of the year there are enough objects to open a museum in the old canteen building.
Collins visits the 2nd Battalion’s Mess. He returns in a taxi crammed with objects, marking the start of regimental objects being displayed in the museum, which proves popular during a Depot open day. Collins is given £100 a year from the profits of the Green Howards Gazette to run the museum.
1245 items are listed in the museum’s first catalogue. Objects previously held in the Officers Mess appear in this list.
Collins leaves the Depot for his next army appointment.
The museum opens to the public. It's the first regimental museum to do so.
The museum is closed during the Second World War, although some objects are displayed in a hut in the sports field opposite the barracks.
The museum moves between a barrack room, a wooden hut and a gymnasium at the Depot, where it remains, even when the rest of the site becomes an Approved School.
Trinity Church in the centre of Richmond’s market place is redeveloped to house the museum.
Curator, Major Roger Chapman updates the museum displays, which had not been changed for 20 years.
The museum closes for redevelopment.
The centenary of the end of the First World War prompts an influx of donations, particularly medals and personal letters and diaries.
The museum’s Medal Room, untouched in the 2014 redevelopment, re-opens following refurbishment.
More than 35,000 items are listed in the museum's current inventory.