Curiosities at Spalding museum explored

The miniature of past member Sir Isaac Newton.
The miniature of past member Sir Isaac Newton.
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A regular article from Spalding Gentlemen’s Society in which Dr Patricia Davies highlights objects from the museum’s collections.

Goodness it’s been a busy month for Spalding Gentlemen’s Society!

We’ve had some first-class guest lectures at Spalding Grammar School, some fantastic coffee evening talks in our own comfortable lecture theatre and our curators and researchers have been bustling around preserving and cataloguing, guiding visitors, sharing, learning and educating.

Our artefacts of interest for this month are an exquisite set of miniatures that are fine Wedgwood portraits.

The plaques each depict a cameo silhouette of a famous person, most of them being past members such as Sir Isaac Newton 1642-1719 – make sure you notice the delicate little white comet flying across his Wedgwood Blue plaque.

Then there is Sir Hans Sloane 1666-1753, a collector whose bequests became the foundation of the British Museum.

We have a plaque for the essayist, poet and statesman Joseph Addison 1672-1719 who once said ‘True happiness arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one’s self, and in the next, from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions’. (I wonder if he was thinking of his discussions with his friends at the Society?)

The there is the Holbeach gentleman who is the acclaimed father of modern archaeology, William Stukeley 1687-1765.

Many of our museum and library artefacts were bequeathed by these and similar gentlemen or have some association with them.

Of course my favourite might be Hans Sloane; not only was he a royal physician who had places such as London’s Sloane Square named after him, he was also the gentleman who first decided to put milk with cocoa powder to make a delicious drink – thus he can be said to have given us chocolate as we know it today.

The next Spalding Gentlemen’s Society Museum open day is on Sunday, November 15 from 1pm until 4.30pm.

Visitors are welcomed in to enjoy 300 years of history and curiosity.

If you have any questions email info@spalding-gentlemens-society.org, or telephone us on 01775 724658.