Fulham's Past On Show at Unique Exhibition

Palace displays treasures past and present

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Fulham Palace

William Morris Society

Archibald Standish Hartrick

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Rare and beautiful objects, dating from medieval times to the present day, are on show at a unique exhibition at Fulham Palace Museum.

The Treasures Past and Present exhibition, which is open until May 31, showcases some of the borough’s gems including William Morris’ masterpiece, The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer.

The book, which was published on Morris’ own Kelmscott printing press and was illustrated by his friend Edward

Burne-Jones, will be a central attraction to the exhibition. Fabrics, and even spectacles, from the great 19th century designer and writer, who lived in Hammersmith for 18 years, will also take pride of place.

Works of art made in Fulham include lustre tiles by William de Morgan, much sought after pots made by the Martin Brothers and books from the Doves Press, with their beautifully simple typeface.

Artists represented include long-term Fulham resident Archibald Standish Hartrick, who trained in Paris with Van Gogh. Works from local artists William Ashcroft, who made impressionistic sketches of Fulham, David Cox Jnr, Sir Frank Brangwyn, Leon Underwood and the comic artist Charles Samuel Keene, will all be displayed.

The idea for the exhibition came to the council’s Cabinet Member for Culture & Heritage, Councillor Frances Stainton, while she was in the borough archives.  Lack of space means that not all of the artefacts in the archives can be on show to the public.

Cllr Stainton says: “I want residents to have an opportunity to see and know more about, what is after all, their heritage. Fulham Palace is the ideal place for this exhibition as visitors can enjoy these fascinating objects in the wonderful surroundings of this Grade 1 listed building."

She adds: “If anyone thinks that the archives are stuffy collections of old papers, this exhibition gives them a unique opportunity to discover the great variety of truly impressive artefacts that do exist. Our sporting heritage alone is fascinating and I welcome the sponsorship of Chelsea and Fulham football clubs.”

In fact our sporting tradition is well represented with lots of memorabilia on show from the boat race, polo, Olympic Games and both Chelsea & Fulham Football clubs, including an early cartoon about the two teams.

The borough’s musical heritage is highlighted by an original manuscript of music by James Hook – the early 19th century English composer who wrote songs for performance in London pleasure gardens. The final item, called I know a thing or two, is probably in Hook’s own handwriting.

Play bills going back to the 1780s will also showcase the borough’s theatrical tradition.

The exhibition also offers the opportunity to see the very oldest document held by the borough’s archives – a rental of lands in Fulham held by John Lyte, dated 1484, the second year of King Richard III’s reign.

Meanwhile, perhaps the most poignant exhibit isthe beautiful Fulham Roll of Honour of The Great War, 1914-1918, written and illuminated by Dorothy Hutton in 1921 and bound in vellum.

Younger visitors to the exhibition are able to enjoy the Children’s Treasure Trail with entrants who successfully follow the clues eligible for a prize.

While entrance to the exhibition is free, Councillor Stainton says that some of the exhibits need help from the archives restoration fund, which is seeking donations. She says: “Donations, large or small, are gratefully received. £20 can provide an acid free mount for works of art – so every little helps.”

The Treasures Past and Present exhibition is open all this week until Sunday, 31 May. The Fulham Palace Museum and Gallery opening hours are:

Saturday 11:00am to 2:00pm
Sunday 11.30am to 3.30pm
Monday 12noon to 4:00pm
Tuesday 12noon to 4:00pm   

May 26, 2009