Tenby Museum and Art Gallery has recently had remedial conservation work undertaken on an important socially historical artefact in its collection, with assistance from the AIM Conservation Grant Scheme supported by The Pilgrim Trust.
The Sedan Chair was presented to the museum in 1896 by Mrs Richards, widow of Mr WH Richards of Croft House, Tenby. The chair had been used to convey the bride of one of Tenby’s Mayors, possibly even Mrs Richards herself, to church at Haverfordwest to be married in 1872. Mrs Richards, before her marriage, had been Miss Stokes of St Botolphs near Milford Haven so the journey by sedan chair would have been a distance of about ten miles for her carriers. The chair provides an important display in the museum’s Story of Tenby Gallery
The chair was in urgent need of conservation work, with the metalwork timber and leather requiring professional assistance. Repair work had been undertaken in the past, possibly whilst the chair was still in use as a mode of transportation but much of this work was failing. Hugh Haley of Phoenix Conservation was employed to undertake the work on the wood and metal whilst Theo Sturge of Sturge Conservation Studio undertook the work on the leather which was in certain areas detaching itself from the framework of the chair and splitting.
The chair presented three months of work but has been returned to its former glories. Mouldings have been repaired, splits have been patched and stitched using archival calf and other various thickness of leather where required, edges have been reinforced, leather has been retanned, old broken tacks have been removed and replaced with 18th century reclaimed ones, the woodwork and brasses have been treated and repaired or replaced where necessary and broken window panes have been replaced. The chair is now once again centre stage of the gallery, an important educational artefact illustrating modes of transportation to the visiting public.