Northampton Council Face Legal Challenge over Ancient Egyptian Collection

Image - Museums Journal

"Northampton Borough Council (NBC) is facing a legal challenge from Spencer Compton, the 7th Marquess of Northampton, over the ownership of its Egyptian and geological collections, which include a statue of Sekhemka dating from 2400 BC.

Compton has requested that the council return the collections, including the statue, to him, under the terms of a deed of gift, signed by Northampton’s town clerk and the 4th Marquis in 1880.

Museums Journal understands the council is disputing whether the statue of Sekhemka, which it is looking to sell, is included in the deed, as it is not mentioned specifically.

The deed, which has been seen by Museums Journal, covers the geological collections and Egyptian antiquities. It states: “The corporation covenant with the Marquis… assigns at all times for ever hereafter to exhibit the same collection freely to the public… and at no time to dispose of any part of the collections…

“…in default whereof at any time the said collection shall revert and be restored to the Marquis his heirs… in as good condition as it was received.”

Ruth Thomas, a former registrar at Northampton Museum, who has also seen the document, said: “You didn’t need to be a lawyer to understand it. The deed of gift is a way of ensuring the collections were for the people of Northampton in perpetuity.”" - Museums Journal

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