Collections Spotlight

Islington Museum has some amazing objects in its collection. Some are on display but some are currently tucked away in our storerooms. Here you can see some of our favourite objects.

Check back regularly to see the new objects that have caught our attention!

Bust of Lenin

This bust of Lenin, which originally came from the Russian embassy, was part of a memorial designed by Berthold Lubetkin in 1937, and was gifted to the museum in 1996. The memorial was erected in 1942 in Holford Square, facing number 30, Lenin’s former home. The bust was vandalised several time, and was eventually moved to Islington Town Hall. While at the Town Hall red paint was thrown on the bust.

Find out more about Lenin’s ties to Clerkenwell here.

The Orton and Halliwell Book Covers

Islington Heritage Service holds all the book covers defaced by Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell in the late 1950s. Orton and Halliwell stole 72 books from Islington South library and made new covers before taking them back to the library. This act of vandalism led to them serving a 6 month prison sentence in 1962. Some of the covers are on display in the museum, while others are held by the Local History Archive and can be viewed by appointment. To find out more about Orton and Halliwell, click here!

Tea Caddy

This tea caddy, once used in an Islington home, was one of the first objects donated to the museum in 1988. It is from the 19th century, and is made of lacquered wood with mother-of-pearl inlaid decorations. The caddy has a keyhole, showing that it was lockable – it’s likely that the lady of the house would have kept the key with her, as in the 1800s tea was still very expensive and would have been carefully protected!

Model of St John’s Gate

This model shows St John’s Gate as it looked in 1504. The Priory of the Order of St John was founded in 1144 in Clerkenwell. The priory flourished until Henry VIII broke England from the Catholic Church in the 16th century. Today, St John’s Gate is the headquarters of Order of St John, the St John Ambulance Brigade, and the Museum of the Order of St John. To find out more, check out their website here!

Holloway Prison Race Equality Sign

This sign was collected by the museum after the closure of Holloway Prison in 2016. It was still on display at the time of the closure. A survey of the prison’s population in 2015 shows that at the time of its closure, 39% of Holloway Prison’s inmates were black or from another ethnic minority background. This compares with women’s prisons in England and Wales where 18% of the population are BME, while only 11.9% of the women’s population overall is BME.

At Holloway, despite the promises made by this sign, black women and women from other ethnic minorities were much more likely to report feeling unsafe in the prison. To find out more about the history of Holloway Prison, click here.

Arsenal Kit Shirt

This shirt is a replica of Arsenal’s 1990-1991 kit shirt, part of Islington’s extensive collection of Arsenal memorabilia. Arsenal F.C. moved to Islington in 1913 and has been an important part of Islington’s identity ever since. To find out more about Arsenal’s history, click here.