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Kay Collins, 2015
Rushden Old Museum
at Rushden Hall

Studying a loaned bundle of misc papers, we know the museum had been open from 1931 to 1938. There are several lists, memos and letters in the bundle. From these I have been able to assemble the list of numbered items almost completely. Many of the items were stuffed birds, fish, and animals, as was the trend in the early 20th century. Birds’ eggs and geological specimens were also donated already mounted in cases. Several of the photographs were passed to the library.

These are a few of the notes:

An unidentified newsclip:

Museum Exhibits at Rushden Hall

The Council find it necessary to dispose of various items which were donated in 1931-38 as museum exhibits for use at Rushden Hall.

Persons who provided exhibits, either as gifts or on indefinite loan, and who would like to reclaim them, are asked to contact the Librarian at the Public Library, Newton Road, Rushden, not later than the 28th February 1966. Notice is hereby given that the Council may thereafter dispose of any unclaimed items.

A G Crowdy
Clerk of the Council

It fell to the librarian to disperse the items. He wrote to the town clerk on 20th January 1966:

We have checked with two lists of museum objects for the names of donors or lenders, but have only been able to find one complete address. I attach a copy of the only other clues we have.

In response to your advertisement, I have had visits from six claimants. Only some of the objects asked for can I trace on our lists. In several cases the claimants are not the donors themselves, but the next generation, and admittedly not sure whether all the things they mention were in fact given to the museum.

I do hope it will not be unavoidably necessary for us to carry out the clearing up operation at the museum whole this exceptionally severe weather continues; in my case, I think we may still have more enquiries to some trickling in. Librarian.

Another memo undated:

I should be glad if you could arrange, once again, to let me & Mrs Garley have access to the Museum objects; I am very troubled about those coins — you were not there to hear it said, very pointedly, that only I and you have keys . . . . .

Besides looking for them, I want to label clearly those things which are to be fetched by claimants; and you & I must fix date for them to be fetched away. It must not be such a time as to cause anyone to miss a day’s work – Committee’s instruction. Does that mean evenings, instead of a whole day? I am anxious to get out the letter immediately, if not sooner! R.L.A. Librarian.

In 1934 Northampton Museum had sent items for display in the museum. In May 1954 their curator wrote to say these were now converted to being a gift, so they may be disposed of as you think fit.
Herbert J Dudley of Higham Ferrers, wrote to say he wanted to take back the Penny Farthing cycle he had loaned in 1937, and would collect it on Saturday afternoon. [It was collected on his behalf, by Mr Ginns, blacksmith, in October 1961]
Mr Astle of South End School, Mr R R Lawrence of Alfred Street School and Mr Dyment of Newton Road School, were offered the chance to fetch any remaining items in September 1966.

Some of the items were displayed as follows:

On the stairs

2 buffalo heads

2 deer heads

Steel engraving ‘death of Nelson’

Main Room

5 deer heads

1 sheep’s head

5 sets antlers

1 stuffed cat – given by the Wagon & Horses

1 pike

1 silver pheasant in case

1 case branch coral – given by the Wagon & Horses

2 pieces of coral

Wax fruit

20 drawers of fossils

1 case birds eggs

Willow pattern sup & saucer

1 sword fish blade

5 small stuffed birds

1 sea cucumber

2 drawers decayed insects – Mrs. Sidney Sanders, Bedford Road.

1 sea horse

1 Bosnian mule bridle

Photo of Lord Roberts framed in seashells

Large wooden stand, possibly ex-reading room at library

5 framed pictures

Picture frame

Photo of freak hen’s egg

Broken stuffed frog

and in the Superintendent’s Office:

Framed photo Rushden Cricket club 1919

Framed photo of Rushden Special Constabulary 1915

Unframed painting of ruined abbey by a river

Framed oil painting of Rushden Church by G Leaver, 1875

Framed picture of Rushden Hall

Framed picture of the ‘Great Fire at Olney’ June 26th 1854.

Framed photos of Chairmen of the Council (returned to the Hall in 2014 and now hanging on the walls of the staircase)

Extract from a Council Meeting June 1933:

MUSUEM – It was reported that the following articles had been either loaned or presented to the Museum:-

Old coin, found in wall of house (by Mr. A. Bell); case of butterflies, from Malay (Mr. Elmer); old sword (Mrs. Burgess); two photographs of shops destroyed at Cave’s fire in 1901 (Mr. Knighton), collection of sea shells, cases of wool flowers and birds’ feathers (Mrs. Peacock); pair of partridges (Mr. Percival); policeman’s lead loaded stick, as used 100 years ago (Mrs. G. Collins); parrot (Mrs. Jacques); pair Chinese shoes (Mrs. Spencer); antique work box (Mrs. Wadsworth); ostrich egg (Mr. A. Berry); a thrail (Mr. J. Church); pair of jays (Mrs. Sayer); two sword-fish blades, from India (1926) (Mrs. E. Newell); two oil paintings, one of Rushden old lodging house, and the other a rural scene, by the late Mr. F. Lovell, formerly of Rushden (Miss Lovell); brass tobacco pouch (Mr. Thompson).

It was resolved that the thanks of the Hall Committee be accorded the lenders and donors.

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