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WG Grace's Teapot

WG Grace's Teapot

Working at the MCC Museum means I deal with all of the interesting and unusual objects that are hidden away in all those white boxes. As well as looking at their historical value, I like to think about the stories behind their inclusion.

I work as a Documentation Assistant, working with the MCC Museum collection, and my main job is to list, log, measure and describe every object and artefact that comes to us.

The other part of my work is Collections Management, which is taking care of the objects to ensure that they will be around in another 200 years time - things such as cleaning, packing and monitoring objects for bugs and damage.

I also work on exhibitions and displays, which is why I’m often moving objects in and out of buildings, wandering around the Pavilion measuring environmental factors, checking paintings haven’t been damaged by galumphing great cricketers and finding objects for researchers or curators.

When looking at objects I like to find out about their social history as well, as all objects have a story which widens the appeal of the collection.

It’s being able to link up these objects with real people and then tell the stories

It’s impossible to not see WG Grace at Lord’s (I walk in and out of his gates everyday), and there are so many images of him in the collection. From posed images in the studio, to paintings showing him at the crease, Dr Grace is everywhere - jugs, books, ink wells and even tobacco pipes - all with that famous beard. A true cricketing icon.

WG Gracescapx300All of these are still, staid and very Victorian, and they don’t get across the true measure of the man. However, some of my favourite images are the ones that bring him to life - a set of cartoon sketches of a portly Grace mopping his brow, a London Cricket Club cap that’s an inch larger than my head, and a silver teapot on a stand with a warming lamp underneath.

This teapot was presented to Grace's wife by the Gloucestershire Cricket Club fund, and my Granny had one just like it which always intrigued me as a child.

WGteapotx300Recently I came across a photo of him and his team running off the field of play (you can see they are running by the slightly blurred feet). It’s photos like this that make Dr Grace come alive and seem as real a cricketer as those I see around the ground today. 

It changed him from this iconic, mythical cricketer to a man who might wear that London Cricket cap and sit drinking tea out of Mrs Grace’s teapot.

It’s being able to link up these objects with real people and then tell the stories to our visitors that make museums more than just places to store dusty relics. We are extremely fortunate that the MCC has a very pro-active collecting policy and continues to add contemporary objects to the museum stores.

It means that in 100 years time we will be able to tell the stories of Broad, Strauss and Connor alongside tales of Grace, Hawke and Lord.

I wonder if Grace took one lump or two?

Down in the MCC Archive

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