Spectacular woodcarvings and furnishings in the Durbar Hall of Hastings Museum and Art Gallery are in desperate need of repair so hastings Borough Council has teamed up with the Museums Association and Crowdfunder to raise the much needed funds that will pay for the restoration of the last remaining original banquettes.
Originally created for the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition held in South Kensington, the banquettes were bought and moved to Lord and Lady Brassey’s Park Lane mansion. The banquettes – the seats around the room – were then re-upholstered by the family in a fine and rare material, bought by Lady Annie Brassey – famous early photographer, traveller and writer – on a trip to Cairo in the Middle East.
The designs are made from panels of silk and richly embroidered with metallic threads. These embroidered patterns include Arabic text set within stylised cartouches and bordered with foliage and graphic motifs. They were originally woven for Sultan Abdul Aziz, the 32nd Sultan of the Ottoman Empire who reigned between 1861 and 1876.
Following the deaths of Lord and Lady Brassey, the family presented the building and many of its contents to Hastings in 1919. It was then re-erected as an extension to the Museum in 1931.
Councillor Paul Barnett, lead councillor for regeneration, explained: “Sadly the banquettes require very specialist work that is beyond the budgets that the museum has available. The remaining original material is now in a very poor condition and action is needed to repair them, so they can be appreciated by visitors and locals for many years to come. We have never tried to crowdfund before, so this is a new adventure for us. We hope you will join us and help preserve this fantastic piece of history by donating or sharing the project widely with your friends, family and colleagues.”
To find out more and donate go tohttps://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/brasseys-brilliant-banquettes.