Hackney’s secret: gold from Stokey and the Ditch

Hackney borough heritage civic regalia kept in Hackney Museum 22 Sep 2014 © david.altheer@gmail.com

ONCE UPON a time what is now Hackney comprised three separate boroughs. Yes, the hipster heartland of  Shoreditch and the pram-pushing paradise of Stoke Newington were independent.  

And they had gold, dripping in chains and medallions across the broad chests of their leading elected officials, like a string of onions around the neck of a French peasant pedalling home from the fields. 

The town halls of the once-proud boroughs stand to this day, although, like a Soviet regime, the Mare Street mob have renamed the buildings since the Ditch and Stokey were incorporated into Hackney in 1965. 

The civic regalia, however, has been locked away in the depths of Hackney Museum, rarely to be seen and, because of some obscure rule, must never be sold. It comprises:

• Speaker’s gold chain and gold badge
• speaker’s escort’s [wife/partner] gold badge
• deputy speaker’s silver chain & silver badge
• deputy speaker’s escort’s silver badge
• speaker and deputy speaker’s robes, hat, gloves, wrist & neck ruffles
• Shoreditch gold chain and gold badge 
• Stoke Newington chain and badge
• speaker’s mace
• giltwood and mother-of-pearl mace
• silver-engraved mace
• Hackney badges.

Isn’t it odd that council buildings can be sold but a clutch of unartistic materially valuable tat – insurance value £350,000 – cannot. Throw in a few things classified for insurance as “heritage asset artefacts” and the rated value rises to almost £650,000.

Hamish Scott 021014 

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One thought on “Hackney’s secret: gold from Stokey and the Ditch

  1. It goes against the Museums Association code of ethics http://www.museumsassociation.org/ethics/code-of-ethics to sell collections and all museum governing bodies/authorities, including Hackney council, sign up to it: witness the recent furore around Northampton council and the sale of an Egyptian statue http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-29450744.

    Just because an item isn’t on display in the museum does not mean that it won’t be in future.

    Thank you for pointing out that it is a code not a regulation that prevents sale. The amendment has been made.

    I should add that Northampton has sold the item for almost £16 million and has decided to quit the association, freeing it to make future sales, but possibly putting funding at risk. – Ed.

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