Home Penny blacks The Harrison Collection: Discover Yorkshire’s treasure trove of antiques as owners search for a new home

The Harrison Collection: Discover Yorkshire’s treasure trove of antiques as owners search for a new home


In 2010 retired farmers Richard and Edward Harrison signed a long-term loan agreement with the Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole and donated 10,000 antiquities dating from the Elizabethan era to form an exhibition permed.

Yet an indefinite display clause was never inserted and museum trustees have now decided to refresh the exhibits and have ‘evicted’ the Harrison collection, which is housed in a purpose-built room named in his honor. .

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The brothers, who used to keep their eclectic range of social history items in the attic of their remote farmhouse near Pickering before moving to a flat in Kirkbymoorside, now face a bill of thousands of pounds to store the collection if they cannot find another museum to accept it within the next four months.

One of the problems the brothers and their trustees face is that the collection is not provided with money or specialized display cases.

Only about a third is on public display and another 20,000 items are already in storage, including clothes worn 300 years ago.

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Advising the Harrisons is Gill Garbutt, a friend of the family who remembers visiting the collection on the farm when it was housed in old shops, at the Beamish Museum.

“There was never agreement that the building would remain the living home of the collection, and the new trustees decided to implement other ideas, new displays and make more use of it. varied from space,” she explained.

Edward Harrison with a cricket bat from the early days of the game in the 1770s

“The brothers are now over 70 and it’s their life’s work. They started collecting when they were little, when their father bought them antiques as Christmas presents. They are real characters who can tell stories. history of each item.They had a private museum at their farm set up as little shops – but it just grew and grew.

“When they moved into their apartment, a trust was created and the museum gave them a dedicated space. If they had paid pepper rent, it wouldn’t have happened, but that clause was never there. The museum has every right to make that decision and the leadership has been very fair.”

The list of exhibits displayed in temperature-controlled display cases is extraordinary. There are many Victorian and Edwardian relics, and even a medieval wheel from a castle which is said to have been used by dogs whose motion turned the meat skewers. There are 19th century chocolate molds from Terry’s factory in York and old apothecary equipment from a pharmacy.

“We’ve had interest from a small museum in Knaresborough, so hopefully something will come out of that. The problem is the trust has no money and the collection doesn’t come with it, or even the It will cost the brethren thousands for We have to find a new place for him to go, and the public better be able to see him.

A letter bearing a ‘penny black’ – one of the first types of postage stamps

“It was popular with visitors, but it’s now been 10 years and the museum is moving with the times. It’s one of the largest collections in North Yorkshire and it’s the life and soul of the Harrisons.”

The Ryedale Folk Museum said: “The decision was taken by the trustees of the Ryedale Folk Museum last June (2021) not to seek renewal of the Harrison Collection loan after the end of the 10-year loan period on July 31, 2022 This decision was communicated to the trustees of the Harrison Collection Trust shortly thereafter, providing them with 13 months’ notice to make alternative arrangements.

“Since then there has been a short extension of the agreed loan, for practical reasons on both sides. The Highlights of the Harrison Collection exhibition, which has been on display since August 2012, will remain on view until August 31, 2022, with the objects to be removed from the museum site by the Harrison Collection Trust by the end of October 2022.

“The trustees of the Ryedale Folk Museum plan to use the exhibition building to showcase its own permanent collection through a program of temporary exhibitions. These exhibitions are likely to focus on ‘local life’ with different themes and stories about the region, although at this stage no specific program has been agreed.

Retired farmers Richard and Edward Harrison have spent their entire lives building their collection of historic artifacts

“Trustees assessed the future of the Harrison Collection against a range of factors. This included the Museum’s Collections Development Policy, which is a policy requirement of all accredited museums. This policy defines themes and priorities for future collection and streamlining The Trustees concluded that the Harrison Collection did not meet the criteria (including items on loan) as the majority of the collection does not relate to the area The Trustees also considered the impact on the museum’s storage, resources, care and conservation requirements and what the museum’s future goals are.”

Museum President Philip Holt added: “After a decade of displaying the Harrison Collection, we have decided that the loan should end as planned and that the collection should be returned to the Harrison Collection Trustees and Edward and Richard Harrison. We are privileged to have had the Harrison collection, but the trustees believe it is time to focus on the museum’s own collection and move forward with new projects.

“The last 18 months have been particularly difficult due to the public health crisis and although I am very optimistic about the future, the first priority is to secure the future of the museum. With this comes ambitions set out in a new ten-year strategy, which places greater emphasis on working with communities and local people My fellow trustees and I believe that the decision to return the loan from the Harrison Collection will help the museum open up new opportunities for growth and deliver greater benefit to the public.

“I would like to thank the trustees of the collection Harrison and Edward and Richard Harrison for the kind loan of their articles, and we wish them every success in their own plans for the future.”

What’s in the Harrison Collection?

– Elizabethan “roundel” plates

The entire collection consists of thousands of items, not all of which are on public display

– Jars, shelves and pharmacy equipment from an apothecary

– Terry’s of York Chocolate Molds

– Sets of 18th century bone alphabets used in schools

– Shop signs and content

– Clothes that have never been displayed

– Victorian tin cans and sugar bowls

– Washboard from Haddon Hall in Derbyshire

– Dog wheel of a castle

– An 18th century cricket bat

– The first postage stamps – known as “penny blacks”

A funerary urn from the 1500s