A new acquisition at Boston Manor House

A rather unusual box discovered at auction

photos of the box courtesy Peter Hammond


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This summer Boston Manor House was presented with a rather special box.

It had been made to look like a large book and had been bought at an auction in Sheffield for the costume jewellery it contained. The information on the front though said that it had been presented to Colonel Clitherow of Boston House in 1839.

It’s now on display in the house with information about the original contents:

It seems that in 1839 James Clitherow resigned from the 42 public bodies he served on due to declining health and the local people decided to present him with an ‘address’ to let him know how highly they thought of him.

It was read and presented to him at the house on April 23rd 1839 by the local vicar, Reverend Doctor Stoddart and Messrs Glover, Ronalds, Wood and Winkworth who were four of the oldest men in New Brentford. At the same time a new flag was hoisted on St Lawrence’s church and the bells were rung.

This led to the idea of a presentation of a piece of silverware to which the well to do of all local parishes from Acton through Hanwell to Twickenham were invited to contribute up to £1. In the local archives is a copy of the accounts and a list of the contributors so a copy of that is now on show. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the first name on the list of donors.

An epergne was presented at the house in September 1839 by Mr Pownall the Chair of the local Justices, Mr Farnell and the vicar and another address was read detailing the Colonel’s qualities.

The epergne it seems was in the form of a silver basket held up by figures representing Faith, Justice and Charity, all attributes that they believed were in James Clitherow’s character.

The box would seem to have been made to hold both the addresses and as these were published a few years after James Clitherow’s death we have the story of these presentations, what was written and read about Colonel Clitherow and his replies. They are now kept in the special box which is made to look like a large red leather book lined with green velvet.

It would seem to have been disposed of when all the contents of the house were sold in 1924 although it’s not mentioned in the sale catalogue. The epergne and its case is fully described. I wonder where it is now.

Boston Manor House is open every Saturday and Sunday and on Bank Holiday Monday from 2.30pm to 5pm but will be open earlier for the Brentford Festival on September 6th.

Janet McNamara

For more local history articles and books see
Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society www.brentfordandchiswicklhs.org.uk
Brentford town and family history www.bhsproject.co.uk
and Friends of Boston Manor www.fobm.org.uk

August 6, 2009

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