The Kingston Brooch – a very lucky evacuee

3 May 2016 by Emma Martin

The Kingston Brooch is one of the most elaborate pieces of Anglo-Saxon jewellery ever found in England.

The Kingston Brooch is one of the most elaborate pieces of Anglo-Saxon jewellery ever found in England.

On 3 May 1941, exactly 75 years go, Liverpool endured the heaviest bombing of the May Blitz. The bombardment, which ran from 1 to 7 May, saw Liverpool (now World) Museum almost destroyed.

Our online exhibition Bombed Out! World Museum and the Blitz commemorates the event. As devastating as the raid was, thankfully, as Lolo in this blog describes, there were some very fortunate evacuees!

“When I was reading the museum’s history I was surprised by the fact that some objects were able to escape from the Blitz devastation. How could they be so lucky? What happened to them? Some had left the museum before the bombs fell on the museum during the night of 3 May 1941.

Shortly after the war began Liverpool Museum’s staff realised the importance of protecting the museum’s treasures. They found all kinds of temporary homes for their invaluable objects. George Youlton, a museum attendant, later recalled the evacuation:

I remember taking some to St Martin’s Bank near the Town Hall. Among them were the Mexican Codex or Calendar, the Kingston Brooch – a rare Anglo Saxon find – and the linen girdle that belonged to Ramases the Third. They remained there until we collected them after the war

Among the three evacuees, the story of the Kingston Brooch was the most dramatic. Not only did it avoid the destruction at the museum, but it survived another disaster. After the war, the museum director took the brooch to London for a BBC quiz show called, ‘Animal, Vegetable Mineral‘. Unfortunately, on their way back to Liverpool the train derailed. The museum director was safe, but the Kingston brooch dropped out from his pocket and was lost. It was a stroke of luck that the brooch was later found on the train tracks.

When we move objects today we do things a little differently!”


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