The Willis Archaeology Gallery
Discover Basinsgtoke and Deane's rich archaeological heritage including the unusual Iron Age burial found at Viables, the Roman burial from Winklebury and reconstructions of nationally important Saxon buildings at Cowderys Down.
The gallery also features objects which give an insight into some of the subjects that fascinated Mr Willis and generations of local people. The clocks, watches and tools were acquired by Mr Willis during his career as a clock maker and jeweller. Many objects of great local significance, were given to the Museum during his time as Curator. The archaeological material was found by Mr Willis and his companions during their field walking and excavations in the Basingstoke area: he was a keen archaeologist.
Within the collection are many personal items: his wallet and a watch that he gave to his Mother for her birthday. There are letters, certificates, tickets and invitations and many other items, all of which demonstrate his wide interests and fascination for the history of Basingstoke. Telling the story of the Museum and Mr Willis the gallery features some unique and fascinating objects below.
Tin-glazed, Delftware punchbowl
Used by the Jacobite Club, which met at the Feathers Hotel, Wote street, Basingstoke. It features an image of a bird on a rock which may have been the reason it was used at the meetings – ‘Blackbird’ was a nickname for both King James III and IIV. The bowl was possibly made at Brislington, Bristol. c1725-30.The bowl's label reads 'It was given to Dinah when a little girl about 1821 with the injunction Take great care of this my child for many a crown bowl of punch has been made in this'. It is not clear who the ‘Dinah’ mentioned was.
This vertebra has been painted to resemble an Evangelical preacher, possibly the Reverend Charles Wesley (1703-1791). Other painted vertebrae of this type are known. Probably 18th century.
With verge escapement and silver plated pair case. Watches of this large size were designed to be hung up in carriages during journeys and not worn about the person. However this particular watch was worn as a pocket watch by an old shepherd at Chineham in the mid 19th century! – hence the later chain. English, by St Peter, London. Dated 1818.
Hair from ‘Copenhagen’
Said to come from the mane of ‘Copenhagen’ the Duke of Wellingtons horse at the Battle of Waterloo. ‘Copenhagen’ was buried at Stratfield Saye, with full military honours, in 1849. Among those present was Miss Charlotte Pigot to whom Wellington himself presented this lock of hair. Miss Pigot was an ancestor of the Hon. Mrs Bunbury who gave it to the Museum. Also on display is one of ‘Copenhagen’s’ horseshoes and a piece of the Wellington oak, said to have come from the tree under which Wellington established a position at Waterloo.
Lump of melted lead mixed with malted barley
This strange mixture of roof lead and malt resulted from the great fire which destroyed the malt house of May’s Brewery, Brook Street, Basingstoke in the late 19th century. May’s Brewery finally closed in 1950.
Coffee cup from the Old Angel Cafe
The Old Angel Café was situated on Market Square. Previously a pub called the Angel Inn, this closed in1866. After a being used as a drapers for some years the building became the Old Angel Café. In contrast to its former use as a pub, the Old Angel was a temperance café – serving no alcohol!.
Ceramic mug with picture of Holy Ghost Chapel
Because of a ban imposed on religious ceremony in 1208 by King John, the land now occupied by the Holy Ghost chapel became a liten or unconsecrated burial ground. In 1214 the ban was revoked and the chapel built on the site. The chapel remained in use until the Civil War when it was severely damaged. The roofing lead is said to have been used to make bullets. Repairs were never made and the chapel remains a scenic ruin.
Camp Fire Clock
High quality ‘novelty’ clock by Thomas Cole (1800-1864). It is fitted with a jewelled anchor escapement and has a ‘going (spring) barrel instead of the fusee system often found in good quality clocks. The pendulum is in the form of a cooking pot. The clock would once have been fitted with a glass dome. Thomas Cole was famous for his special clocks; “he stood without rival …. for design, taste and execution“. (Obituary notice, 1864).