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Ashes Urn to travel to Australia for State Library Victoria exhibition

Posted: 13 March 2019

The Ashes Urn is to travel to Australia later this year for the first time in 12 years, and be displayed at State Library Victoria in Melbourne.

The Urn will be a highlight in the Library’s largest-ever free exhibition Velvet, Iron, Ashes, from December 2019 until February 2020.

The Urn, which is on permanent display in the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Museum at Lord’s Cricket Ground, will be loaned to the State Library Victoria. This will be only the third time the Urn has travelled to Australia; it was exhibited for less than a week during the 1988 Bicentennial celebrations and visited six cities in three months during the 2006/07 Ashes Series.

The ‘small but special’ Urn is a symbol of cricket rivalry and friendship between England and Australia, and will join more than 200 items on display in a world-class exhibition.

Visitors will discover the history of the `original’ Ashes Series and the Urn, which came to be associated with cricket as a result of England’s first defeat to Australia on home soil in August 1882. The Sporting Times published a mock obituary of English Cricket concluding that: “The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.”

In December of that year, during a tour of Australia, the original terracotta urn was given to Ivo Bligh, the captain of the England team, as a symbol of the ashes that he had travelled to regain.

Following Bligh’s death, the Ashes Urn was bequeathed to MCC, and is on permanent display in the MCC Museum at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

Recognising the desire for England and Australia to compete for an actual trophy, MCC commissioned a large scale replica from Waterford Crystal, which was presented for the first time to Australia following their victorious 1998/99 Test series against England. Since then, the trophy has been presented to the winning captain at the end of each Ashes Series.

MCC Chief Executive & Secretary, Guy Lavender said: “We are delighted to loan the Ashes Urn, a symbolic and special treasure, to State Library Victoria. The story of the Ashes Urn is one that captivates so many people around the world and the State Library Victoria’s exhibition is a very fitting place for its story to be told.”

We are thrilled to have the chance to bring to life the wonderful stories surrounding the Ashes tradition.

State Library Victoria CEO, Kate Torney, said she was excited to welcome the Ashes Urn to the Library this year.

“We are thrilled to have the chance to bring to life the wonderful stories surrounding the Ashes tradition, which of course, began here in Melbourne.

“The history of the Urn is very much woven into the history of this state and with the MCC’s generous support, the Ashes Urn will be the centrepiece of our vibrant new interactive exhibition, Velvet, Iron, Ashes.” said Ms Torney.

The Ashes Urn can be viewed in the MCC Museum as part of a tour of Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. 

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