Sunday, May 28, 2023
What lies hidden in the park?

What lies hidden in the park?

It was wonderful to visit Parc Howard for their Easter family event on Monday (Apr 17). It was good to see so many families enjoying the sun and visiting the mansion house. How many we wonder would have noticed the glass cabinets containing the beautiful pottery or the oil paintings adorning the walls? As we sat enjoying a cup of tea and a slice of cake we were joined by some politicians including the AM, the MP, the Mayor and the Chairman of the Rural Council. Conversation turned to the glass cabinets and the question was asked by someone. What exactly do we have here at the park and has it been inventoried? No one seemed to know. It must be eh? I am sure it is. Didn’t the Borough Council have an inventory?

Discussion then turned to the value of said items in the mansion house and to a plate, which sold on the Antiques Roadshow for £80,000.

Being a nosey parker I tried to get a good look at the pottery to see if it had been marked with a label, the sort of label that can be cross referenced to an inventory. Indeed it had. It appears that the Borough Council was at least fastidious in its record keeping. The next question was. Where is the inventory? It is the sort of question the owner of the grand house may have asked the butler or housekeeper back in the day. You can guarantee it was checked annually too and if there were to be something missing, old Hudson and Mrs Smithers would be for it.

Llanelli Online has sent a request to the County Council asking if an inventory does indeed exist and if so, is it available to view. With the appointment of a new museum’s manager we may rest assured that the county’s treasures will be looked after for generations to come. If you would like to see what you own in part, go and visit the mansion house. We did find the following on the council’s website:

The Parc Howard Collection

Parc Howard was opened in 1912. Its collections have been drawn together mainly by donation. They reflect Llanelli’s past. The Parc Howard collection is stored within the museum.

Material Culture: including all material in the collection other than Fine Art and Ceramics

This collection has a broad range of material culture reflecting the history of Llanelli from the 18th century. Notable items are an example of the Stepney Spare Wheel, products of the local iron, tin and steel industries and an example of the first tin beer can, which were made for the local Felinfoel Brewery. The collection also reflects local sport, brewing, religion, costume, WW2, and the town’s civic history and notable figures. Of the 3,000 material culture objects in Parc Howard’s collection, approximately 11% are on display at one time.

Fine Art Collection

This collection consists of nearly 500 works of art, including oil paintings, works of art on paper and sculptures. The core of the collection’s most important paintings came from the collection of Lady Stepney, who originally leased the museum and park to Llanelli Borough Council. The collection contains works by Llanelli born artists James Dickson Innes and Charles William Mansel Lewis and a large scale work by Hubert von Herkomer. Paintings by John Bowen and Tony Evans, two significant 20th century local artists, are also held. Of the 491 works of art, some 8.5%, including the collections’ most significant works, are on display at one time. The remaining items are held in a secure store but can be made accessible to scholars and are shown in rotating exhibitions.

Ceramics Collection

This collection contains the largest collection of Llanelly Pottery in public ownership. Nearly 80% of this collection of 721 items is on display at any one time. The Llanelly Pottery collection has been brought together since 1912 by a mixture of purchase and donation. The collection ranges from wares produced during the earliest years of manufacturing in 1840s until its final years during the 1920s. Among the earliest wares of significance are the collection of lithophanes and a bust of John Wesley, as well as examples of transfer printed ware patterns and forms. Approximately 30% of these are on display at any one time. Ceramics not on display are held in secure stores but can be made accessible to scholars.

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