Colchester Castle displays 100-year-old pageant shrine

Image caption,
The shrine features the figure of the patron saint of Colchester, Saint Helena

A pageant shrine made for a Colchester festival 100 years ago has gone on display at one of the town's museums.

The wooden item, which has a carving of the town's patron saint, St Helena, was used as a prop in a play for the Colchester Pageant in 1909.

It was bought at an auction in Sussex last year and has been stored in a deep freeze to help preserve it.

It is now on show at the town's castle after being restored by conservationists.

Catherine Newley, from Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service, told BBC Essex: "It suddenly turned up in a Sussex last year.

"Two years ago we held an exhibition on the pageant to celebrate its centenary and unfortunately it was just after, not before, that it turned up at an auction house.

"They got in contact with us to let us know it was going up for auction and thanks to the generosity of The Friends of Colchester Museums we were able to purchase it for the collection."

The Colchester Pageant was a week-long event in June 1909 which told the history of the town in six plays.

Image caption,
Having thawed from its deep freeze the prop underwent restoration

The shrine prop was used in episode four, which told the story of how St Helena became patron saint.

Since its arrival at the museum, the shrine, which is made of wood and foil, has been cleaned and restored.

"We've repaired the loose wood, so any wooden attachments have been re-attached to the structure," said restorer Stephanie White.

"All the tarnished and oxided layers of the metal foil have been cleaned to reveal the original surface, which would have been a bright shiny colour."

It is now on display as part of the A Few of my Favourite Things exhibition until 26 June.

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