Frederick York, The British and Medieval Room, a photograph

London, England, around AD 1875

Early Britain on display

In 1875 the Museum Guide Book stated that this room contained three collections:

'...the British, consisting of antiquities found in Great Britain and Ireland, extending from the earliest periods to the Norman Conquest, the Early Christian, and the Medieval, comprising all remains of the Middle Ages, both English and Foreign'.

Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks (1826-97) had been responsible for this material in the British Museum since 1851, when he was appointed Assistant in the Department of Antiquities. In 1866 he founded a department which is the ancestor of five of the Museum's ten curatorial departments today. He developed the British, Medieval, Ethnography and Oriental collections through wise acquisition and generous donation. He also influenced and improved the display and labelling of objects.

The British and Medieval Room displayed many objects now well known to visitors.The table case on the left in this photograph contains the Lewis Chessmen, which were discovered in Uig on the west coast of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides in 1831.

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More information


M. Caygill and J. Cherry (eds), A.W. Franks, nineteenth-centur (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)


Height: 78.000 mm
Width: 82.000 mm

Museum number

Archives CE114/618 (York Album)


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