Long wait over – Butterfield Mortuary Cross

Have you spotted the recent addition to the Small Drawing Room  at Cliffe Castle?


Mortuary Cross in situ in the reception rooms at Cliffe Castle
Mortuary Cross in situ in the reception rooms at Cliffe Castle


Daru Rooke, Museums Manager North  has written us a blog post about it:

In 2007 Cliffe Castle was presented with a very badly damaged cross.

The cross, once part of the fittings of the Butterfield family mausoleum in Keighley, had suffered serious damage during an arson attack and was almost unrecognisable.

The cross is made out of gilt metal, marble and vivid green malachite veneer. The result of the fire damage was that the malachite had popped off, the inner bronze core had twisted and the figure of Christ was charred with the fingers of one hand lost.

After some searching we found a specialist jeweller called Ged Collins who was willing to take on the task of conservation. Work included re-modelling the lost fingers, re-affixing of the malachite veneer, straightening the bronze core, cleaning the marble and re-gilding the damaged elements.

BCross (not on display)
Cross after conservation, prior to display

The project took three years to complete and involved Ged having to re-discover some lost jewellery making techniques to complete the job. The end product is stunning.

We’ve included images below of some close-up details of the cross, so you can fully appreciate the level of detail in the cross.

The skull and cross bones motif is a symbol of death, and is often seen on these type of objects.
The remodelled fingers.

We think Henry Isaac Butterfield of Cliffe Castle might have bought the cross from the collection of Anatole Demidoff, a Russian Prince whose family owned malachite mines in the central Urals. We also think that the cross was made in Russia or Italy in the 1850s.

The cross is now on display at the Castle and we are all impressed by the way in which an object so badly damaged could be fully restored to its original condition. We also have the Cliffe Castle Friends to thank for funding such a big conservation project. We hope are visitors are really impressed too.

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