(Left to right) The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, Cllr Bob James and Cllr Walter Burrows admire the rare collection of Ashford Black Marble. © DCC
A collection of rare black marble has been returned to its Derbyshire roots thanks to a consortium of funders including the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire and Derbyshire County Council.
The collection of Ashford black marble, so called because it came from only two quarries near the village of Ashford-in-the-Water in Derbyshire, has been added to an existing collection at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.
The reunion came about as a result of the dying wishes of John Michael Tomlinson who became an expert on the subject after discovering in 1945 that his family were inlayers from Ashford-in-the-Water.
It became his lifetime quest to find examples of the craft, and by the time he died in 2000, he had written a book about the marble and collected over 150 examples.
Buxton Museum already has an important collection of black marble. © DCC
Following the death of his widow in 2005, Derbyshire County Council purchased the collection with the support of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), the National Art Collections Fund and generous local benefactors including the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.
“Derbyshire County Council is delighted to fulfil Mr Tomlinson’s wish and welcomes the return of this large collection of decorative pieces to the county,” said Bob Janes, Derbyshire County Council’s cabinet member for cultural and community services.
“Buxton Museum and Art Gallery’s collection is recognised as one of the best collections in public ownership,” added Mr Janes.
The collection includes a fine example of a tabletop inlaid with a geometric design of local stones and jewellery, and ornaments inlayed with designs of flowers and butterflies made of shell and glass.