Liverpool

Goodison Egyptology collection in Southport exhibition

Wooden coffin lid from Thebes Image copyright The atkinson
Image caption A wooden coffin lid from Thebes dates from between 700 and 650 BC

A private collection of Egyptian artefacts, dating from 3,000 BC to 200 AD, is to be exhibited in Merseyside for the first time in 40 years.

The Goodison Egyptology Collection, named after Anne Goodison from Waterloo, Liverpool, consists of more than 1,000 artefacts.

Most were collected during two trips to Egypt in 1887 and 1897.

The 40 boxes of treasure have been in storage since 1974 when the Bootle Museum and Art Gallery closed.

They will now form a permanent display at the Atkinson Art Gallery in Southport when the lottery-funded Egyptology gallery opens on Friday.

Little is known of Mrs Goodison, who was born Anne Padley in West Derby, Merseyside, in 1845.

Aged 22, she married George Goodison, a civil engineer for the Walton Local Board, who laid a sewerage system in the Everton area. As a gesture of thanks a road was named after him and - some years later - Everton FC's stadium on the same road took the name Goodison Park.

"Though little appears to be recorded of her, there are tantalising connections which have come to light," said Jo Chamberlain, documentation officer at the gallery.

"There is a reference to Marianne Brocklehurst contacting the then curator of Bootle Museum through the recommendation of Mrs Goodison asking for advice on setting up a museum in Macclesfield and when the Goodison's rented a cottage in Coniston, their next door neighbour was [art critic] John Ruskin."

Image copyright The atkinson
Image caption The artefacts, dating from 3,000 BC to 200 AD, include this 2nd Century wooden label for identifying a mummy
Image copyright The atkinson
Image caption A wooden ba-bird was placed on top of a coffin or shrine to allow the deceased person's spirit to gain mobility

Mrs Goodison purchased most of the objects with the advice of clergyman Revd Greville J Chester, who assisted in purchasing Egyptian antiquities for the British Museum in London.

She displayed them in her home until her death in 1906, aged 61, when her husband approached Bootle Museum with the aim of selling his wife's collection.

The museum could not afford the £400 asking price, but Thomas Davies, a retired businessman who had spent most of his working life in Egypt, bought it and gifted the collection to the museum.

The collection stayed on display in Bootle until the 1970s when the museum closed.

Image copyright The Atkinson
Image caption A gold hair ring from the 18th Dynasty
Image copyright The Atkinson
Image caption Fragment of sandstone from the Tell el Amarna archaeological site

The objects were then transferred to the Botanic Gardens Museum in Churchtown, and then to the Atkinson Art Gallery in Southport in the 1990s where they have remained in storage until a new gallery was recently opened following lottery funding.

Ms Chamberlain said: "The new gallery has given us the opportunity to examine the items once more and through working with many specialists, fabulous new information is coming to light.

"Dr Ashley Cooke, of World Museum Liverpool, recently looked at some of the pottery from the collection and spotted markings that can be traced back to the famous Egyptologist Flinders Petrie.

"Revd Chester was known to be a good friend of Flinders Petrie, so it's not surprising that a quantity of artefacts from his excavations have made their way into this collection.

"It adds a provenance that makes the collection even stronger."

Image copyright The atkinson
Image caption A pair of silver penannular earrings

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