Over the last few years the Ashbourne Old Trust has been in discussions with the British Museum to borrow the original seal-die of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School with the aim of exhibiting it in Ashbourne. Having also liaised with the Derbyshire Museums Service and the County Library Service we have now planned a larger exhibition of objects associated with the history and development of Ashbourne.
To organise the exhibition the 'Ashbourne Treasures' Group was formed. This is a local partnership with representation from the Ashbourne Old Trust, the Ashbourne Heritage Society, the Old Ashburnian Society, St. Oswald’s Church and Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School together with support from the Ashbourne Partnership, Derbyshire County Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund to form an inclusive community project.
Our specific aim is to promote the understanding of the history and the heritage of Ashbourne to all age groups by means of a three-month exhibition and series of lectures and talks to be held on three sites commencing in July 2017. The main exhibits will be in the Ashbourne Library in Compton, St Oswald’s Church and the Heritage Centre in Church Street.
A Map of Ashbourne Town in 1830
Detail from Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School Charter July 1585
The exhibitions will include the original seal-die from the British Museum as well as the original 1585 Charter, a beautiful document illustrated by the Queen’s portrait artist Nicholas Hilliard, this is presently in the Derbyshire Records Office.
Other objects from Ashbourne's history would include the silver seal-die owned by the Old Ashburnians, a Bronze Age axe head, the St Oswald's flagon, 17th century church plate, helmet of Sir Thomas Cokayne (1537), a 18th century longcase clock (Ashbourne has a long history of clock-making), an 1862 oil painting of Shrovetide football, late 19th century Shrovetide footballs, the Ashbourne Bushel, civil war cannon balls, a map of Ashbourne from 1830 and an 1802 painting of Ashbourne Hall.* Parts of St Oswald’s Church including the Penelope Boothby marble tomb would also form part of the trail.
All of the items apart from those fixed in the church are not on public display and most never have been. Their owners are willing to loan them for the period of the exhibition to provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the hidden treasures of Ashbourne.
Detail from the Turnbull Window by Christophe Whall 1904 in St Oswald’s Church
We will be organising a series of talks and events over the three months on a variety of subjects and periods including Tudor, Georgian & Victorian at a number of local venues. These will fully involve local schools and the wider community and we hope they will increase the number of people both local and visitors who are interested in and will become involved in the heritage of the town.
We will also be recruiting stewards for the various locations and events - Why not come along and get involved?
What or who is an Ashbourne Treasure?
Can you describe them in words or paint or by photograph or show them as an object?
As a forerunner to the Ashbourne Treasures exhibition, we are holding an open art event, called An Ashbourne Treasure Trove, at Ashbourne Town Hall over the Easter weekend. Local residents are invited to submit their interpretation of what or who is an Ashbourne Treasure in words (poetry or prose), painting, sketch, cartoon, crafts, sculpture or photograph, or even an object that represents in artistic form an Ashbourne icon. They can be contemporary or historic.
In addition, there will be a community 'paint-in'. Local artist Sue Prince will be preparing the outline of a bonad timeline painting of the history of Ashbourne from the Bronze Age to the present day, incorporating those items will be displayed in the Ashbourne Treasures exhibition, and the public will be invited to paint the panels. A bonad is a decorative wall hanging painted in a Swedish folk art style, which has been very successfully revived by Sue. On its completion, the bonad will be displayed in a public space where everyone can view it.
Application forms for the Treasure Trove can be downloaded here or collected from the Visitor Information Centre in Town Hall Yard. Closing date for submissions is Friday 17 March.
In the event of oversubscription, the Ashbourne Treasures committee reserves the right to choose those items for display.
There will be a number of informative leaflets on the various collections and subjects and publications including a book on the Treasures of Ashbourne, a timeline and legacy items including a new Heritage Trail Guide, Park History and the refurbishment and replacement of the Finger Posts around the town.