Retirement and Hobbies

Entertainment and Culture for September

Exhibitions and Galleries to Visit in September

By Phyllis Oberman, Art Aficionado

This month Phyllis Oberman looks at some of the fabulous art and exhibitions you can visit in September. There are so many fascinating and interesting things for you to enjoy. Here are my favourites.

The Moon, Man And Maps

The Moon landing in 1969 is being celebrated at exhibitions and events throughout the world marking the half-century since the first man stepped on the moon. One of the largest exhibitions The Moon – is at The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich until 5th January, 2020.

Apollo 11 Moon Landing

The Apollo 11 mission launched from The Kennedy Space Centre
Florida, photograph courtesy of NASA

Man’s relationship with the moon since records began is demonstrated in this fascinating show. One of the oldest objects on display is a Mesopotamian tablet from 172 BCE (from the British Museum) indicating that lunar eclipses were considered to be a bad omen.  

Cultural and religious calendars used the moon and its phases to fix the dates of important festivals such as the Chinese New Year and Ramadan.


Astrolabe made by Mohammad ibn Abi Bakr, 1221 CE
© History of Science Museum, University of Oxford

Artists over the centuries were intrigued by the moon and paintings, and drawings were made showing the moon’s surface or often a night time view of the moon in a landscape.  

Similarly maps were made showing the moon from the 17th century up to the present day. An early telescope allowed British astronomer, Thomas Harriot to make a drawing of the moon’s surface in 1609.

The Thames and Greenwich Hospital by Moonlight

The Thames and Greenwich Hospital by Moonlight
by Henry Pether (c.1854-65) © National Maritime Museum

Actual Apollo 11 objects join an extraordinary collection of maps, paintings, posters, books films and magazines at this show. During the exhibition at The National Maritime Museum, visitors can put themselves in the shoes of the astronauts and see the moon landing as they did themselves.  

The potential for moon landings in the 21st century has extended throughout the world and experts are looking at how this might play out for mankind.

An image of the moon taken by the Royal Observatory Greenwhich's AMAT Telescope

An image of the moon taken by Royal Observatory Greenwich’s AMAT telescope

Further information and details of concessionary tickets, talks and films can be found on the website at

At The Map House in London’s Knightsbridge until 21st August a free exhibition The Mapping of the Moon: 1669 – 1969 is showing 300 years of historic maps up to the Apollo 11’s moon landing 50 years ago.

Athanasius Kircher “Typus Corporis Lunaris”

Athanasius Kircher ‘Typus Corporis Lunaris’ Published 1669

For further details of this antiquarian map seller’s display can be found at

A Visionary

The artist and poet William Blake (1757 – 1827) is the focus of an important exhibition at Tate Britain opening on 11th September, 2019.    

Blake was considered a visionary for his work which reflected the turbulent times in which he lived. His artistic imagination was inspired by revolutions, wars and politics that were going on during his life. 

Portrait of William Blake, 1802

William Blake: Portrait of William Blake, 1802

Blake was born in London and lived there most of his life. Trained as an engraver he wrote poetry extensively and produced paintings, engravings and prints in large numbers. He gained little recognition during his lifetime and was even considered deranged by some.   

Blake was deeply religious though not committed to any specific form of Christianity. In his lifetime he was known for his illustrations of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and many vivid interpretations of Biblical scenes.

William Blake: Pity, 1795, Tate

William Blake: Pity c. 1795, Tate Britain

His wife Catherine was a strong support to Blake throughout his life and became adept at helping him with his engravings and illustrated books.   Tate Britain has reproduced the small room above his parents’ hosiery shop where he held an exhibition in 1809.  

Nearby in the gallery two of his works have been digitally enlarged and projected onto the walls showing the scenes on the grand scale Blake envisioned.

Catherine Blake by William Blake, 1805, Tate

William Blake: Catherine Blake, 1805, Tate Britain

The huge exhibition has over 300 watercolours, paintings and prints and aims to show how Blake’s highly creative work has gripped the cultural world of the 21st Century.  

The Tate Britain show continues until 2nd February, 2020. Details of talks and other events during the show, and concessionary tickets can be found at

Royal Record

In an age without TV, cinema, electronic and social media, the extensive collection of watercolours commissioned and collected by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert is a remarkable record of their life together.  

There are thousands of these works and The Queen and her Consort spent hours putting them into albums.

The Arrival of Queen Victoria at the Chateau d'Eu

Eugene-Louis Lami, The arrival of Queen Victoria at the Chateau d’Eu, c.1843-4.  Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (as guests of King Louis-Philippe)

The Royal couple made many journeys around Britain and also ventured abroad. These outings were all captured in watercolour by commissioned artists.  

The Queen who had drawing lessons from a young age was an accomplished amateur artist exampled by her picture of Prince Arthur, aged 3 made at Osborne House in 1853.

Queen Victoria: Arthur, 7 May 1853

Queen Victoria: Arthur, 7 May 1853. Royal Collection Trust
© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Many varied national events were recorded for the scrap-books ranging from Royal visits, events involving the Royal children and pictures illustrating international and diplomatic affairs such as The Crimean War.  

After the death of her beloved Prince Albert, the albums of watercolours meant even more to the bereft Queen.

George Houseman Thomas: The Farewell to the Scots Fusilier Guards at Buckingham Palace, 1854

George Housman Thomas: The Farewell to the Scots Fusilier Guards at Buckingham Palace, 1854.  (Leaving for The Crimea)

A selection of these watercolours from The Royal Collection is now touring the UK to mark the bicentenary of the birth of both Queen Victoria and the Prince.   

First stop for Victoria and Albert: Our Lives in Watercolour is The Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle until 15th September, 2019.  

The show moves to Poole Museum from 26th October to 5th January, 2020 and finally Wolverhampton Art Gallery from 7th March 2020 to 11 May 2020.

For further details including talks, tours and events can be found on the following websites:

Concessionary tickets are available.

Ceramic Culture

Taking inspiration from the art and ceramics from the East, Francis Priest is showing her latest multi-coloured work at The Bowes Museum, County Durham until 15th September 2019.  

Frances Priest with one of her pieces

Francis Priest with one of her pieces

Her contemporary pieces are displayed among The Bowes Museum’s collection of historic Japanese and Chinese ceramics, providing a contrast for visitors to enjoy.

Francis Priest: Gathering Places, Grammar of Ornament, India

Francis Priest: Gathering Places, Grammar of Ornament, India

Most of her interesting works, layering pattern and vivid colour, have been created especially for this exhibition by the Edinburgh-based ceramicist.

Francis Priest: a recent piece

Francis Priest: a recent piece

The Bowes Museum offers concessionary tickets to visitors and National Art Pass holders also have free entry.  

For full information visit

Cut Above

At Dulwich Picture Gallery until the 8th September 2019 a major exhibition: Cutting Edge: Modernist British Printmaking displays prints, drawings and posters made between the two world wars by artists from the Grosvenor School of Art in London.  

Cyril Power: The Merry-Go-Round

Cyril Power: The Merry-Go-Round © The Estate of Cyril Power

These artists learned the intricate skill of creating linocuts, woodcuts making prints and lithographs in a Modernist style.

The Grosvenor artists produced vivid and colourful images that looked at everyday life, sport, speed and transport including posters for London Transport. All of these are now considered collectors’ items.   

Eveline Syme: Outskirts of Sienna

Eveline Syme: Outskirts of Sienna, 1930-1
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Examples on show at the gallery have been drawn from museums and private collections around the world.

Dulwich Picture Gallery has produced a full-colour catalogue to accompany this stunning exhibition of art.

William Greengrass: Windmills and Balloons, 1936

William Greengrass: Windmills and Balloons
1936 Bonhams © The Estate of William Greengrass

For details of this exhibition, accompanying talks and concessionary tickets visit the website at

Centenary Show

In Dublin The National Gallery of Ireland has a special exhibition marking the centenary of the foundation of the pioneering German design school, The Bauhaus.  

Bauhaus 100: The Print Portfolios is a free show that runs until 1st December 2019.  

These print portfolios were produced in the 1920’s to help promote The Bauhaus style that was considered to be the most influential educational establishment in the fields of architecture, art and design.

Paul Klee: Hoffmannesque Scene, 1921

Paul Klee: Hoffmanesque Scene, 1921, Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart

During its existence until 1933 when it was forced to close under Nazi pressure, The Bauhaus attracted some 1,250 students from 29 countries, as well as established artists and craftsmen.  

The exhibition has been developed in conjunction with Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart which has loaned the collection.

Wassily Kandinsky, Composition, 1922

Wassily Kandinsky: Composition 1922, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

Further information about the show’s talks, lectures and films is available from the website at

Scenes of Two Cities

London and New York are the subjects of a free exhibition of etchings at Sudley House in south Liverpool that continues until March 2020.

Whistler, Limehouse, 1589

Whistler: Limehouse, 1859 , Nation Museums Liverpool

Whistler and Pennell: Etching the City is a fascinating display of prints of etchings. Both artists were Americans born a generation apart; James McNeil Whistler settled down in London in 1859 to pursue his brilliant career while his younger friend, Joseph Pennell recorded New York’s burgeoning riverside industry and the growth of skyscrapers in New York.

Joseph Pennell: Courtland Street Ferry, New York, 1908

Joseph Pennell: Courtland Street Ferry, New York 1908

Whistler was engrossed in the energy and bustle of the working River Thames. His intricately detailed etchings that he produced became known as his ‘Thames Set’.  

These works show the tail end of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. All the display’s prints have been selected from the Walker Art Gallery’s extensive collection of 8,000 works on paper.  

Whistler: Limehouse, 1859

Whistler: Black Lion Wharf, 1859

Further details about the exhibition can be found on the website at

Art In Brief

Look out for the American Pop-artist Roy Lichtenstein at The Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool running until 7th September 2019. Entrance is free.

Roy Lichtenstein: Reflections of a Girl, 1990

Roy Lichtenstein: Reflections on Girl, 1990

RAMM (Royal Albert Memorial Museum) Exeter is showing an exhibition, Nomads: Homes on the Move that tells the story with photographs and films of the life of some 30 million nomadic people in the world today and the challenges they face today.  

Nomads: RAMM, Exeter

Nomads: RAMM, Exeter

The show continues until 6th October 2019 and entrance is free. Details of the exhibition can be found at

Favourite Gallery or Museum

If you have a favourite local art gallery or museum that you would like to share with Sixtyplusurfers readers, please send the details to Phyllis Oberman care of Sixtyplusurfers to Jenny Itzcovitz at

Please label the subject of your email Favourite Art Gallery and Museum for Phyllis Oberman’s Sixtyplusurfers column.

Sixtyplusurfers Competition

Win a Personalised Wooden Mantel Clock

Win a Personalised Arched Wooden Mantel Clock

From The Gift Experience

Sixtyplusurfers has teamed up with The Gift Experience to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a charming Personalised Arched Wooden Mantel Clock. 

This classic wooden mantel clock makes a fabulous gift for any occasion, whether it’s an anniversary present for a special couple, a birthday present to treasure, a retirement or thank you gift, a housewarming present, or a lasting memento for a loved one.

The wooden clock has a decorative arch shaped top with a chrome border around the clock face which is white with Roman numerals around the outside. The clock has a minute and hour hand and the time is set from the rear.

The mantel clock is personalised for your recipient with a special message of your choice up to two lines long with 25 characters available on each line. The message is engraved onto a silver plaque which is attached to the front of the clock.

The clock stands at just over 17cm tall and 14cm wide. It requires one 1AA battery. Price is £39.99.

For more information about the Personalised Wooden Arched Mantel Clock from The Gift Experience click here 

For details about the full range of gifts from The Gift Experience visit the website at

For Your Chance to Win

Just tell us what is your personalised message engraved onto, and then attached to the front of
the mantel clock?

      a) A bronze disc
      b) A silver plaque
      c) A pewter badge
      d) A glass medallion

To Enter the Competition

Just tell us what is your personalised message engraved onto, and then attached to the front of the mantel clock? Then send in your answer together your full name, special message (up to two lines long with up
to 25 characters on each line)
postal address and telephone number to the Sixtyplusurfers email address below:

* Please label your entry
Wooden Mantel Clock Competition 

* This competition is open to
UK readers only

* Names and addresses of entrants
will not be shared with third parties
and will be deleted after the
prize draw has been made

Food & Drink Festival

Celebrity Chefs at
Our Bury St Edmunds

Dean Edwards

Chef, Dean Edwards

Foodies looking for what some of the top chefs in Suffolk have to offer should go along to Our Bury St Edmunds Food & Drink Festival over the Bank Holiday weekend of 25 and 26 August.

Special guests turning up the heat each day in the Stoves Cookery Theatre include two of the country’s most popular celebrity chefs.  Nick Nairn, who’s been a familiar face on our TV screens for nearly 25 years, and Dean Edwards, who became a household name cooking on ITV’s ‘Lorraine’. They will both be making their first visits to the festival and will each make three appearances in the on-stage kitchen at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.

Supporting Nick on Sunday will be chefs from some of the town’s best-loved restaurants including Pascale Canevet from Maison Bleue and Zack Deakins, who is the Chef Patron at 1921 Angel Hill.  The following day Dean Edwards will be donning his chef’s whites to entertain the Bank Holiday crowds.  Alongside his demonstrations will be displays by Scott Taylor, the new head chef from The Angel Hotel.

Bury St Edmonds Food & Drink Festival

As well as the shows in the Cookery Theatre, Our Bury St Edmunds Food & Drink Festival will feature around 100 stalls including local produce and foodie attractions for all the family. 

For younger visitors there will be a range of children’s activities in and around the town centre including face painting, a mini-farm and the urban beach complete with deckchairs and Punch and Judy, along with fairground rides and free street entertainment across both days.

Full details can be found at

Spectacular Dance Show

Anton du Beke and Erin Boag ‘Dance Those Magical Movies’

Anton du Beke and Erin Boag ‘Dance Those Magical Movies’

Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag, the nation’s favourite ballroom couple announce a brand new show for 2020 as they ‘Dance Those Magical Movies’ on a major tour of UK and Ireland.

The sensational production, filled with Hollywood glamour, is set to the music that made it big on the silver screen, including classics from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, ‘Singin’ In The Rain’, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ through to songs from blockbusters such as ‘The Greatest Showman’ and ‘Moulin Rouge’.

Featuring exquisite choreography and stunning costumes, ballroom dance stars Anton and Erin will be joined on stage by superb vocalist Lance Ellington, a dance ensemble and 23-piece concert orchestra under the baton of Richard Balcombe. The show will, as ever, feature the very popular ‘Q and A’ section, providing some fun interaction with the audience.

Commenting on the tour, Anton Du Beke says, “Erin and I are delighted to be back with a fabulous new production ‘Dance Those Magical Movies’. We want to bring a red-carpet premiere performance to every venue, as connecting with the live audience is simply the best.”

Anton & Erin… Dance Those Magical Movies 2020 dates/venues

Anton du Beke and Erin Boag ‘Dance Those Magical Movies’


Fri 24 January Northampton Royal & Derngate – 7.30pm – 01604 624811

Sat 25 January Birmingham Symphony Hall – 2.30pm & 7.30pm – 0121 780 3333

Sun 26 January Cardiff St David’s Hall – 3pm – 029 2087 8444


Sat 1 February Guildford G Live – 2.30 & 7.30pm – 01483 369350

Thu 6 February Southend Cliffs Pavilion – 8pm – 01702 351135

Fri 7 February Southend Cliffs Pavilion – 2.30pm & 8pm – 01702 351135

Sat 8 February Bournemouth Pavilion – 2.30pm & 7.30pm – 0300 500 0595

Sun 9 February Manchester Bridgewater Hall – 3pm – 0161 907 9000

Fri 14 February London Barbican – 7.30pm – 020 7638 8891

Sat 15 February London Barbican – 2.30pm – 020 7638 8891

Sun 16 February Sheffield City Hall – 3pm – 01142 789 789

Thu 20 February Eastbourne Congress Theatre – 7.30pm – 01323 412000

Sun 23 February Oxford New Theatre – 3pm – 0844 871 3020

Wed 26 February Aylesbury Waterside Theatre – 7.30pm – 0844 871 7607

Thu 27 February Croydon Fairfield Halls – 7.30pm – 0203 292 0002

Fri 28 February Basingstoke The Anvil – 7.30pm – 01256 844244

Sat 29 February Liverpool Philharmonic Hall – 7.30pm – 0151 709 3789


Sun 1 March Nottingham Royal Concert Hall – 3pm – 0115 989 5555

Thu 5 March Woking New Victoria Theatre – 7.30pm – 0844 871 7645

Sat 7 March Dublin National Concert Hall – 8pm – 01 417 0000

Sun 8 March Dublin National Concert Hall – 3pm – 01 417 0000

Thu 12 March Leicester De Montfort Hall – 7.30pm – 0116 233 3111

Fri 13 March Hull Bonus Arena – 7.30pm – 0844 844 0444

Sat 14 March Reading The Hexagon – 7.30pm – 0118 960 6060

Sun 15 March Southampton Mayflower – 5pm – 02380 711811

Wed 18 March York Barbican – 7.30pm – 0844 854 2757

Thu 19 March Gateshead Sage – 7.30pm – 0191 443 4661

Fri 20 March Aberdeen Music Hall – 7.30pm – 01224 641122

Sat 21 March Edinburgh Usher Hall – 7.30pm – 0131 228 1155

Sun 22 March Glasgow Royal Concert Hall – 3pm – 0141 353 8000

Tickets are on sale from venues, online at and national ticket hotline: 0844 847 2319 (booking fees apply).

Note – 0844 calls will cost 7 pence per minute plus your network access charge.

Hever Castle Portrait

New Portrait of
Sir Thomas More
at Hever Castle

Sir David Starkey

Sir David Starkey, Historian

A portrait of Sir Thomas More has gone on display in Hever Castle’s Long Gallery as part of the permanent exhibition telling the story of the Tudors.

The oil painting, which was painted around 100 years after More’s death, is on loan for six months from a private collection.

More was a close confidante of Henry VIII but he opposed Henry’s break from the Catholic Church and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. His refusal to accept Henry VIII as head of the Church of England and to attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn led to his fall from favour and eventual execution.

Historian Dr David Starkey, who guest curated the exhibition in the Long Gallery, presided over a private unveiling of the portrait on Friday 10 May.

The portrait attributed to the Flemish School is an interpretation of Holbein’s portrait of More.

Sir David Starkey

Dr Starkey described it a “remarkable” portrait. “It’s taken from the great Holbein portraits and the great Holbein portrait drawings but it’s odd as it sort of sits between the two of them and the face shifts from the calm, serene, forceful, humanist, learned lawyer of the Holbein portraits we’re all familiar with and becomes more intense with the concentration of the eyebrows and the set of the mouth. This is how More was seen afterwards when he became a saint and martyr.”

Visitors to the childhood home of Anne Boleyn will be able to able to see the painting of Sir Thomas More alongside 18 original portraits hung in dynastic order telling the story of the Tudors from Henry VI to Henry VIII.

The Long Gallery underwent redecoration last year with new innovative lighting added and the paintings bordered by fabric (depicting whether they were from the York, Lancaster or Tudor families) in order for it to resemble what a typical long gallery would have looked like during the 16th century.

Hever Castle Admission 

Admission Prices – Castle & Gardens:  Adults £17.75; Seniors/Students £15.60; Children (5-17) £9.95 (under 5’s free); Family ticket £46.85 (2 adults & 2 children or 1 adult & 3 children).

Gardens open at 10.30am; Castle opens at 12 noon.  Last admission 4.30pm; final exit 6pm.

For further information please visit the website at

Or call Hever Castle on 01732 865224.

Raby Castle, County Durham

Raby Castle and High Force Unveil Packed Summer Season

Raby Castle and the Walled Gardens

Raby Castle has unveiled details of a packed summer season of family activities and special interest events that will include outdoor theatre performances, Forest School activities, extended Park and Garden opening and evening Castle tours.

Families are at the heart of Raby’s summer season with a host of brand new children’s events. For the first time families can enjoy trailer rides around the 200-acre Deer Park aimed specifically at wildlife spotting for children. The trailer rides are every weekend until 1st September, including August bank holiday Monday.

Bright Woods return with a host of Forest School activities and free trails throughout the summer holidays. Children can take part in a sensory walk around the Park and Gardens Tuesday, 20th August. and Tuesday, 27th August. A free trail in the Walled Gardens to find lost words will run every day throughout August.

The HandleBards theatre group are back again at Raby Castle this summer to perform Shakespeare’s renowned plays The Tempest on Sunday August 11th and Much Ado About Nothing on Tuesday August 20th, set against the backdrop of the Castle in the 18th century Walled Gardens. Tickets, picnics and drinks can be ordered on the Raby Castle website.

Another first for Raby Castle; the Park and 18th century Walled Gardens will be open after hours until 8pm, every Thursday throughout August starting from 8th August. A free glass of Pimms is included in the After Hours Park and Gardens ticket.

Raby Castle will host new summer evenings ‘Behind the Scenes Tours’ every Thursday from 8th August. Visitors will be welcomed with a free glass of prosecco and will be taken to areas of the Castle not normally accessible to the public.

Photographer Gary Lintern will run a variety of photography workshops including astrophotography at both Raby Castle and High Force. New this summer, Gary will also run children’s photography club sessions at Raby Castle.

Meanwhile, at High Force Hotel and Waterfall, the Hotel will be hosting summer BBQs every Friday until September 6, from 5pm. Bright Woods will also host free trails this summer holidays and Make Your Own Wooden Toys Forest School.

Raby Castle is set in 200 acres of undulating parkland in the heart of the beautiful Durham Dales in County Durham. The Castle was built in the 14th century and was home to Cecily Nevill, mother of two kings of England. It was also the scene of the plotting of the Rising of the North and a Parliamentary stronghold during the Civil War.

Today, Raby is the seat of Lord and Lady Barnard and the Vane family. Visitors can visit the Castle, Deer Park and 18th century Walled Gardens. The dog friendly Stables Café, Woodland Play Area and Stables Shop are open to the public and no ticket is required for these areas

To book tickets and for more details on times and prices on all events visit

Australian Wines Roadshow

100 Best Australian Wines’ Roadshow

Matthew Jukes

Matthew Jukes, Daily Mail Wine Writer

For the very first time, Daily Mail wine writer Matthew Jukes is bringing his ‘100 Best Australian Wines’ Roadshow to the South West. The evening wine tasting, which is taking place in association with South West Wine School, is being held at Exeter Castle on Thursday 10th October from 6 – 9pm.

Tickets are currently available on and at £20 per person will sell out quickly so book now to avoid disappointment.

Matthew is one of the country’s most influential and respected wine writers and has worked in the wine business for over 30 years. He has been writing about wine for two decades and has penned fourteen wine books.

Matthew Jukes

Every year Matthew launches his ‘100 Best Australian Wines’ Report in May, at Australia House in London, and then, from September to March, takes a large selection of the wines on a global Roadshow.  

Matthew says, “The UK Roadshow events are all extraordinary and no two are the same. I am thrilled to be hosting the inaugural ‘100 Best Australian Wines’ tasting in Exeter. The wines that accompany me on the Roadshow are always of the highest quality imaginable, ranging from £10 – £100+ across all styles of wine, from all corners of Australia. The evening will take the format of a relaxed, walkabout, free-pour tasting with brief introductions and the chance to ask me questions throughout.”

Matthew started his ‘100 Best Australian Wines’ initiative in 2004 to highlight the finest Australian wines available in the UK. The recently launched sixteenth edition of the Report is designed to be a balanced, modern collection, including sparklers, whites, reds, sweet and fortified wines.

He covers all price points and as many regions as possible to provide a complete Australian ‘wine list’ for the next twelve months’ worth of entertaining, cellar-building and championing. The document is, in effect, Matthew’s snapshot of what is going on in Australia right now at the highest echelons of winemaking skill.

Jonathan Reynolds, Co-founder of South West Wine School says, “It is an honour to be working with Matthew to bring his immensely regarded ‘100 Best Australian Wines’ Roadshow to Exeter. It is going to be an evening that all wine drinkers in the region should hastily put in their diary and book in good time as it really is an opportunity not to be missed.”

Jonathan continues, “There will also be a chance to buy the wines at the tasting, perfect for getting ahead for all the Christmas parties and festivities in the months to follow.”

For more information or tickets visit

Bank of England Exhibition

325 Years, 325 Objects
Exhibition at the Bank of England Museum

Bank of England

The Bank of England is 325 years old. To celebrate the anniversary, the Bank of England Museum at Threadneedle Street is launching 325 years, 325 objects, a new exhibition telling the story of the Old Lady through items selected from the vast collections amassed since the Bank was founded in 1694.

Spanning art, design, archaeology, architecture, ceremony, politics, wartime, the monarchy, security, fraud and forgery, crises, riots and technology, the exhibition is an absorbing presentation of world and social history from a genuinely unique perspective. 

Far from a predictable chronological trawl through history, it is a lively display of significant, surprising, beautiful and unusual items that have tales to tell. Full of stories, characters and moments in history, 325 years, 325 objects is drawn from the Museum’s own collections stored deep beneath Threadneedle Street.

The Bank of England Museum tells the story of the Bank, from its foundation in 1694 to its role today as the United Kingdom’s central bank. Within a full-size reconstruction of Sir John Soane’s 18th-century Stock Office, a large boat construction is full of interactive displays explaining how the Bank works, banknote design and security and how the Bank endeavours to keep the financial system on an even keel.

Highlights of the exhibition

Bank of England Ten Pound Note

The first banknotes, including an early note, dated 26th June 1702, issued to Elizabeth Head, an early investor in the Bank.

Artwork sketches and test plates for banknote designs, including Jacobite design proofs from 1745 and a woodblock design for the first postal order from 1880.

A still-wax-sealed packet containing a duplicate key to the door of the Bullion Office from 1784

19th and 20th century forged banknotes and printing plates

Roman relics found during archaeological digs on the Threadneedle Street site.

Handmade terracotta bricks taken from Sir John Soane’s Rotunda in his original Bank building and early 20th-century hand-painted wall tiles from the Bank’s parlours, featuring Britannia, Minerva, Pythagoras and more

Manual dexterity tests given to Bank staff in the 1980s

Cold War Calculator. A radiation fallout calculator, 1959/60, used to estimate the effects of a nuclear attack.

Early views of the Bank building and its location in the City of London

Depictions of a dozen monarchs across successive gold coins

One of the highlights of the exhibition is an exquisite botanical sculpture. Created by artist Justine Smith, the sculpture takes the form of an arrangement of wild British flowers – bindweed, wild cherry, dog roses and hazel branches – all made from a combination of previously circulated (now unfit) £50 notes and uncirculated £50 test notes.

The delicate, red floral arrangement will be presented in a silver water jug, dating from 1694, the year of the Bank’s foundation. Justine Smith said, “I am excited to see my work joining the collections of the Bank and lining up alongside 324 objects spanning its history. I am interested in the idea of wild flowers being tenacious and sturdy and finding their way to thrive wherever they can. And I’m using banknotes and I see them as a symbol of labour, strength and continuity – of putting down roots.” 

Jennifer Adam, curator of the Bank of England Museum says, “We are reaping the rewards of the fact that the Bank never threw anything away! The sheer variety of items at our disposal meant that the challenge posed by this exhibition was narrowing our selection down to just 325 objects. 

We are especially pleased to be throwing light on some lesser-visited areas of the Bank’s history, including the work of the first female clerk, the life of staff at Threadneedle Street and Sir John Soane’s ‘lost’ Bank building.”

For information visit the website at  

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