The Downham Banner Story

We are talking about Downham and surrounding villages in the period 1785 to 1913. The lifespan of the Downham benevolent Society Downham little changed in outward appearance since those days apart from metalled roads and traffic .

The story begins

The story for us starts in the parish Church of St Leonard. Behind the organ there was box .

The mysterious box

The box was about ten feet long by 6 inches square. A box not opened very often and which contained a spectacular artefact.

Inside the box

The banner of the Downham Benevolent Society in commemoration of the society’s centenary in 1885.

Time for action

This is the last outing the banner had when it was a part of our Church exhibition held in 2011 to mark the centenary of the rebuilding of the church. At this point it was agreed that it was time to conserve the banner or accept that it would fall to pieces.

Not in the best of health

A condition survey was commissioned from the conservation department of the Peoples’ History Museum in Manchester. The report described the banner as silk hand stitched with silk, thread with a pained image of the good Samaritan and text with silver mantling and damaged. Described as soiled, faded and fragile due to age.

The Condition Report

Largely intact but beginning to split at stress points and due to being rolled too tightly. Previous repairs done with adhesive tape were frowned upon The painted areas were dry and in good condition but with a bloom The silver mantling was blackened suggesting a high silver or silver gilt content.

A plan starts to form

Recommendation s as to future treatment were made the one ultimately chosen was to cost about £9,000 plus vat. Led the PCC who were the default owners a decision was made to go ahead with a conservation and presentation project A project team of volunteers representing village life: church village hall WI School and both Downham and Twiston and the history group put together an application to the NW Heritage Lottery Fund.

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