Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Never-displayed rare Sikh chain armour to be restored

The armour has been at the museum for 50 years without being displayed

The Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham has held a set of Sikh chain armour for over 50 years but it is so frail it has never been on public display.

The set of armour including gauntlet, helmet, breast and back plates dates from the mid 1700s.

It was given to the museum in 1959 by a member of the Corps of Royal Engineers.

Whilst a piece of chain armour like this is not hugely rare, it is rare to find a set so complete, with its original silks.

The piece has been linked to the 'Lahore Armoury' and was almost certainly brought to the UK with boy Maharajah, Duleep Singh, and the Governor General of India, Lord Dalhousie.


The armour will be restored to reflect its history

The armour then became part of Lord Dalhousie's collection and when he died without an heir, it was sold at auction in Edinburgh on 7 December 1898.

Conservation assessments of the armour have resulted in a cost of approximately £30,000 to restore and to display the piece and the museum is trying to raise the funds to conserve the armour and its history.

Lauren Jones is the museum's Collections Care Officer:

"The museum is confident the armour can be well conserved, but we are however very keen to preserve its history, a history the armour's current condition reflects. The armour will not be restored to an as-new condition; this technique would destroy part of the object's history and allure.

"For all of us at the museum these are extremely exciting times; we have never carried out a project like this before, but we feel this armour is of such cultural and historic importance it warrants the very best attention we can give."

To highlight the plight of the armour, the Royal Engineers Museum will show the piece for one night only on Thursday 30 September from 7pm to 8.30pm.

www.bbc.co.uk, 28th September 2010.

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