Like the majority of museums, Knutsford Heritage Centre does not have enough gallery space to be able to display all its holdings. Consequently many items are in store, only to be displayed periodically when there is an appropriate exhibition. Here is a selection of some of our local artefacts.
The Musgrave Brazier and Tinsmith
Long before our present building became the Knutsford Heritage Centre, it was the business and home of the Musgrave brazier and tinsmith.
Very few artefacts remain to commemorate this business. Fortunately we hold one of their few remaining copper and tin pans with the name and town inscribed on the lid.
Knutsford Royal May Day
In 1864 the Knutsford May Day Festival was revived by St John’s Church, and has continued to this day now for over 150 years. The procession with as many as 600 children in the parade, winds its way round Knutsford’s narrow streets, finishing on the Heath. Here the children dance traditional displays, the sailor’s hornpipe, and promenade round the May Pole, After this the May Queen is crowned.
In 1887 the Prince and Princess of Wales came to open the Manchester Exhibition which rivalled the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. While staying with Lord and Lady Egerton at Tatton Park, they were invited to watch the May Day Festival. They were so impressed that the Prince, bestowed the festival henceforth to be Knutsford ‘Royal’ May Day.
The 1887 crown and dress worn by Mary Ellen Howarth are on display at the Centre. A new crown is made for the May Queen each year, another crown we hold is the one worn by Charlotte Kenyon, the Royal May Queen of 2016.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century special fabric badges were made for the May Day Committee members. Here are three examples which show their diverse styles.
Julie Ainscough Models
During the 1980s a local artist, Julie Ainscough made many small models of the main buildings of the town. These two examples show the Cranford Maternity Hospital and the Methodist Church in Princess Street in the days when it had a spire.
Royal George Pancake Race
The Royal George Hotel held an annual pancake race on Shrove Tuesday. The winner was presented with the specially inscribed Royal George frying pan each year. We have little information on this event so if you can help please contact the Centre.
King George V Jubilee Mugs
In May 1935, the country celebrated the Silver Jubilee of the reign of King George V. Knutsford Urban District Council celebrated the event by issuing commemorative mugs and holding celebratory events. This local example depicts the crown and King George and Queen Mary amidst flags.
Relief of Elizabeth Gaskell
In 1907 Richard Harding Watt designed and built the Gaskell Tower to celebrate the life and works of Elizabeth Gaskell, our famous author, who lived in Knutsford during her childhood years and for a while afterwards.
Watt commissioned the sculptor, Cavaliere Achille d’Orsi of Naples to create a bronze medallion in her honour on the tower. This plaster bas relief was created from part of the bronze plaque. The Gaskell Tower is owned by Knutsford Town Council, which has loaned the bas relief to Knutsford Heritage Centre, and generously paid for the conservation of the cast.