Rare set of Sikh armour to be restored
The rare Sikh armour at the Royal Engineers Museum
A rare set of Sikh armour which has languished in a storage cupboard at the Royal Engineers Museum in Brompton for more than half a century is to be restored.
The protective clothing, which includes gauntlet, helmet, breast and back plates, dates from the mid-1770s, but it is too fragile to go on display.
It was brought to Britain by the last Emperor of the Sikhs, Maharajah Duleep Singh and Lord Dalhousie, the Governor General of India.
The armour then became part of Lord Dalhousie’s collection and when he died it was sold at auction in Edinburgh in 1898.
It was donated to the museum by a member of the Corps of Royal Engineers in 1959.
Lauren Jones with The Sikh armour at Royal Engineers Museum, Prince Arthur Road, Gillingham
Conservation experts have estimated that it will cost about £40,000 to help to return the armour to its original condition.
Lauren Jones, collections care officer, came across the armour when she joined the museum six years ago.
She said: “It was tucked away in a storage cupboard. We had an awareness day at the museum two years ago and I was blown away with the interest in the armour from leading members of the community and the Sikh community.”
The project was put on hold while Mrs Jones went on maternity leave but the fund-raising drive is back on with the aim of getting it on show to the public as soon as possible.
Mrs Jones said: “While a piece of chain armour like this is not hugely rare, it is rare to find a set so complete, with its original silks, which are in remarkably good condition.
“The armour will not be restored to an as-new condition. This technique would destroy part of the object’s history and allure
“For all of us at the museum these are extremely exciting times. We have never carried out a project like this before, but we feel this armour is of such cultural and historic importance it warrants the very best attention we can give."
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