Collections


The Merchant's House is an active collector of objects which reflect and enhance our interests and activities.

The Thomas Bayly collection has been formed to furnish the House to the appearance of a middle class family in around 1680. Apart from the furniture, domestic artefacts reflect many aspects of 17th century life from leisure (music, drinking, and smoking) to cooking and domestic affairs, to religion and business activities.

The Marlborough collection is an ever-growing assemblage of items which were produced in or refer to the town of Marlborough and its surrounding villages. Our time span covers the medieval to post World War II period. We already hold 18th century clocks, silverware, farming implements and smocks, and a considerable specialist group of bells made in Aldbourne - a village with a nationally important bell foundry until the early 19th century.

Photographs, prints, paintings and documents relating both to the 17th century and to Marlborough and the surrounding district. The images are a valuable record of the changes which have taken place over the centuries.

Pelham Olive Collection
 
The House is much enhanced by the addition of a loan of furniture and ceramics which was negotiated by the late Victor Chinnery, to whose memory the resulting exhibition is dedicated.  Pelham is the son of Gabriel Olive, an antique dealer remembered for his interest in early objects not only commercially, but as items for study and research. He was active in the Regional Furniture Society, which from the 1980s focused on local stylistic variations, an area hitherto neglected in the stratosphere of museum professionals.  One has only to consult the grand reference books of the early 20th century to encounter absurd attributions applied to early furniture and woodwork.  Not only are there few approaches to regionalism, but those attempted range from the incoherent to the absurd.  In the latter category are specimens of furniture from the Indian sub continent described as  Elizabethan.

Another of Gabriel’s interests was delftware, inspired no doubt by his living in Wincanton which was one of the regions where these wares were produced in the 17th and 18th centuries.  His studies were enhanced by the discovery and scrutiny of fragments excavated from the production sites in the town.
Both of the above areas of interest were shared by Pelham and he remains active in collecting some of the finest pieces in both disciplines.  Many items are of national importance, often representative of only a  handful of known specimens.  He has been assiduous in collecting dated delftware, an area vital in advancing knowledge and understanding in ceramic studies.

The collection is in the House for a period of two to three years so you are urged to come in and enjoy antiques which in some cases match or surpass those in national collections.