MYSTERY WOMAN RESUMES HER TRAVELS
December 3 2012.
Having been confined to the depths of Martello Tower 74 for many years, one of Seaford Museum's two ships figureheads has resumed her travelling life - at least as far as Sheffield where she is to undergo a major restoration by figurehead expert Richard Hunter - www.figureheads.co.uk
The move took place on Tuesday morning 27th November, when Steve Hampton from local company, S J Hampton Removals, assisted by Museum volunteers carefully carried her up from the lower floor of the Museum to the Esplanade.
She is a genuine mystery because little is known about her origins before the 1970's when she was donated to the Museum from her then resting place at the Litlington Tea Rooms. Before that she had been rescued from the old Seaford Urban District Council depot in Brooklyn Road in 1962 by Mrs Doris Pilkington. How she got into the Council's care is unclear, although there is one suggestion that she came from the Seaford garden of a retired naval officer, whilst another source suggests she was from "a house with a long garden" which fronted Marine Parade which had been requisitioned by the military during the Second World War.
It's probable that she was lodged in the Council yard at the outbreak of the Second World War when the seafront was militarised. Various other items were sent there for safe keeping, including the other Seaford Museum figurehead, which is known to be from the Danish barque "The Peruvian", which was wrecked at Seaford on February 8th 1899.
In the early 1990's local artist, craftsman and Museum member David Taylor undertook some essential conservation work on the figurehead, which was in a very poor state, and since then she has stood in the Museum, alongside the fully restored and resplendent figurehead from The Peruvian, work which was also undertaken in the late 1980's by David Taylor.
Now thanks to a generous donation from Seaford author Diana Crook and other financial support, (and after taking specialist advice from the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich), Seaford Museum has been able to commission the professional restoration of this iconic item, which stands over 7 feet tall.
The ultimate goal for the Museum is to try to establish from which vessel she originally came; whether she was from one of the numerous local wrecks, or whether she had been bought from a dealer as a Victorian curio, to decorate a garden or house to emphasis a maritime heritage. Unfortunately, there a few clues and hard information about her is in short supply.
The plan is that she will be ready to take her place in Martello Tower 74, the home of Seaford Museum, in time for the opening of the 2013 temporary exhibition which will be on the theme of shipwrecks, coastal protection and beach finds.
Before then, if anyone has any information about the "Mystery Woman", Seaford Museum will be pleased to hear about it, on 01323 89822 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org