|Our Company Curator Liveryman Don Lyons provides a little insight into the Company's extensive collection of artefacts and books which are available to view on request here at Coopers' Hall.|
Little imagination was required to recognise that our Company must make every effort to maximise its income earning opportunities to sustain our activities and, dear to all our curators’ hearts, to maintain our beautiful pre-Georgian Hall.
Commercial necessity dictated that our Museum Room had to be available to tenants by January 1st 2017 and so, in the 40th anniversary year of the room’s formal opening, our museum was quickly decommissioned by 16th December, 2016.
Closure brought to an end a period of forty years in which coopers and their guests had been privileged to enjoy no less than a third of our public rooms being dedicated to a museum, or “Exhibition Room” as our first Honorary Curator preferred to call it.
The excellence of our displays was achieved through the generous donations of our benefactors, voluntary working parties and the efforts of the six Honorary Curators who have preceded me. Their collective hard work, artistry, skills and scholarship have created a sound legacy that all future curators can adapt and build upon. It seems appropriate to record their names and the years in which they held office:
L.A. Sharpless (1974 – 1978)
R. R. Thompson. (1978 – 1987)
D. Barker. (1987 – 1994)
R.J. Perrin. (1994 - 2005)
J.S Palmer. (2005 -2012)
M.H. Gorsuch-Browne. (2012 – 2014)
None of what ensued could have been achieved without the assistance of our Clerk and Assistant Clerk and the support of the Hall and Heritage Committee. As one might expect, the largest and heaviest items presented a physical challenge and required some professional assistance to move them. Our display case for silver, and the Armorial stone badge that once adorned the third hall were relocated in early January to the area outside the cloakrooms. In this more prominent position and no longer tucked away in the Museum, they are now seen by most visitors and have attracted favourable comment.
Our Pall Chest was the third large item to be relocated and may now be seen in the entrance hall. The chest once had to be rescued from the cellars of the third hl at the instigation of John Jackson (Master 1906) and clearly could not be so confined again. The chest dates from the late Sixteenth Century and once held the Company’s pall cloth as well as a banner that was made to celebrate the victory over the Armada in 1588.The chest, itself dates to c1591. Prominence of position is again of advantage, but in this case it has seemed prudent to provide a protective transparent cover to protect it from being used as a convenient shelf.
Having relocated the larger objects it was possible to consider the remainder and, there being so little floor space available, it was evident that only one small display cabinet could be accommodated. The cabinet may be seen in the entrance hall and currently displays tools used in cooperage, but offers opportunities for some rotation of other artefacts in the future. Close links to cooperage and our heritage will be used as the primary theme of display both in the case and in exploiting our wall space for showing some of the numerous paintings and prints in the Company’s possession.
Moving to the present, the Company’s collection of books are being documented to reflect their new position in a new book store that has been commissioned to provide easy access and much improved storage conditions. In addition, a wall cabinet has been purchased and will be populated with a display of medals and coins, some of which are on loan to the Company.
Plans for the immediate future are, in part, subject to approval of funds being made available – that constant reminder of the need to remain aware of commercial opportunity. The plans include making a significant improvement in our storage conditions in the Company’s vaults. This part of the project will not be apparent to most of the members of the Company, but such an observation prompts the thought that our larger social functions are not held at the Hall and those excellent smaller dining and other functions that can be held are not attended by everyone. With this in mind, it may be possible to take advantage of 21st Century technology by using the Company web-site to occasionally feature photographs and short descriptions of our artefacts. The idea needs further exploration, but technology will certainly feature in the “provenance” project that has been put on hold during the more recent activities: - the Company will eventually have a computer record of when and how we came into possession of our many artefacts and give credit to our generous benefactors of centuries past.
If you wish to receive a guided tour or view any artefact or resource stored here at Coopers' Hall, please contact the Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 020 7247 9577.