Sunday, 25 August 2013

Visiting West Park Museum, Macclesfield

This week I visited West Park Museum in Macclesfield on an afternoon trip with my
West Park Museum
supervisor Campbell to see their collection of Egyptian objects. West Park's small but well formed Egyptian collection came into being because of a Miss Marianne Brocklehurst, the child of a wealthy silk manufacturer in Macclesfield and a lady with a keen interest in all things ancient Egyptian. 

Miss Brocklehurst travelled around Egypt with her companion Mary Booth, and the pair became known as the 'MBs'. They had a keen eye for high-quality Egyptian objects and had the opportunity to acquire a personal collection when they also had the chance of making use of their contact with Luxor's infamous Abd el-Rassoul family from whom they bought a number of objects including this ring preserving the cartouche of Ramesses II. 
Ring with the cartouche of Ramesses II
Miss Brocklehurst was also a friend of Amelia Edwards (the founder of the Egypt Exploration Fund, now Society) and subsequently became a member and donor of the EES, forming a Macclesfield Branch of the EES with Mary Booth as secretary. As a result of her membership Miss Brocklehurst received a portion of the excavated objects with secure contexts which complemented her own personal Egyptian collection. 

West Park Museum was built in 1898 at the instruction of Miss Brocklehurst but unfortunately she became ill and died before she was able to visit the museum herself. From museum records it is clear that Miss Brocklehurst's Egyptian collection was donated and exhibited at West Park from the very beginning, and now forms an integral part of West Park's modest collection of ancient objects, anthropology, natural history and fine art.  

One of the most important Egyptian objects at West Park is this beautiful steatite statuette of Queen Tiye, Great Royal Wife of pharaoh Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC) depicting the queen standing, wearing an enveloping wig and vulture headdress which may originally have been fronted with two uraei. She holds a flywhisk in her left hand and a lotus in her right, and the back pillar preserves her name: Hmt-nsw wrt Tyy (Great Royal Wife, Tiye). This object is truly a masterpiece and I was very lucky to have had the privilege of handling and examining it on my visit. 

The West Park Museum may be small, and perhaps a little out of the way, but it is definitely worth a visit and you will be rewarded with a beautiful collection of Egyptian objects including several outstanding unique pieces, together with a CD ROM catalogue of the Egyptian collection which you can purchase from the museum shop. I'd like to thank Honorary Curator of West Park, Alan Hayward, for his generosity and for facilitating access to the collection.
Yan Tan Tethera: A rhyme derived from a Brythonic Celtic language used by shepherds to keep sheep in many parts of England and Southern Scotland.

Until the Industrial Revolution, the use of traditional number systems was common among shepherds, especially in the Dales of the Lake District.

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