Museum Overmantle

A new permanent exhibit is lighting up Gloucester City Museum as a carved oak overmantel, believed to be the last remaining relic of Gloucester’s old town hall, has been given pride of place.

 

The overmantel includes carved portraits by artist George Armstrong Howitt of Oliver Cromwell, King Charles I and the two coats of arms of Gloucester and has been placed over a Victorian fireplace restored in the 1980s from a house in Gloucester.

 

There is speculation that the overmantel is the last remaining artefact of the Gloucester Old Tolsey, the old town hall of Gloucester that stood at the cross of the gate streets.

 

It was replaced in 1892 following the construction of the Guildhall on Eastgate Street, where the overmantel had spent several years of its life in an upstairs room.

 

Gloucester Old Toley stood at the cross of the city centre from the mid 1400’s and was rebuilt in 1751 as a two-storeyed classical building of brick with stone dressings, having a parapet surmounted by urns and, over the main front to Westgate Street, a pediment with a carving of the city arms and insignia.

 

By the later 19th century the building had become unsuitable for the increasingly complex city administration, and in 1889 the town clerk and other city officers were housed in part of the nearby corn exchange.

From 1843 until its sale part of the Tolsey had been used as the city post office.

It is believed parts of the overmantel may date to Georgian times, even older than Howitt’s carvings, who exhibited similar carvings in Gloucester in 1888.

 

Gloucester City Museum are now hoping that local historians may be able to shed light on the artist Howitt with any information they know about him.

 

Lise Noakes, Gloucester City Cabinet member for Culture and Leisure, said: “It is wonderful to have another element of Gloucester’s history joining our museums.”

 

“I very much hope that some local knowledge will help us to know more about Howitt. Hopefully somewhere in our city is someone who will be able to tell us about him.”

 

The Gloucester City Museum is open Tuesdays – Saturdays, 10am – 3pm (Until 31st March 2016). You can contact the team at: museums@gloucester.gov.uk

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