Bexhill Museum’s centenary exhibition - by John Dowling

museum -photo and report by john dowling
museum -photo and report by john dowling

FROM the snows of Siberia to the sunny South Pacific and imprisonment on grounds of conscience, Bexhill Museum is telling its own story.

The museum’s founders, the Rev J.C. Thomson and Kate Marsden, the first female Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, achieved their objective on May 22nd 1914 when the town’s museum was opened. For 63 years until his death at the age of 93 Henry Sargent was the museum’s distinguished curator.

Running from now until the end of the year will be Movers and Shakers, a special centenary exhibition in the museum’s original gallery - which now bears Henry Sargent’s name.

It has been created by the team which continues the founders’ proud tradition and maintains the independent, voluntarily-run museum for the benefit of the public.

The gallery’s east wall is dominated by a huge world map illustrating the travels in her husband’s steam yacht Sunbeam of Annie Brassey. Artefacts collected by her in the 1870s formed the basis of the museum’s original collection. One of Lady Brassey dresses is now on display alongside some of the material she collected.

Troika sleigh bells and medical equipment are among the artefacts which illustrate Kate Marsden’s work in founding a leprosy hospital in Siberia which bore her name.

A group of typically Fifties schoolboys are grouped around Henry Sargent in a photograph illustrating his work for the museum. The case also contains the illuminated address presented to Mr Sargent by the museum in 1970 to mark his first fifty years as its devoted curator.

Henry Sargent was also borough meteorologist for many years, ascending daily a vertical wooden ladder on top of what is now the Rowing Social Club in order to read the instrument recording the town’s hours of sunlight which now graces the cabinet.

There is also a poignant reminder of his time in prison as First World War conscientious objector.

The centenary will be marked on Thursday, May 22 by a reception in the museum, tickets for which are now available from the museum.

Pictures show Henry Sargent’s sunshine-measuring instrument, his framed address, Kate Marsden’s troika bells and Lady Annie Brassey.