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Museum Of British Faith History

by | Sat, Aug 5 2023

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The town of Bishop Auckland in northern England will soon open a new museum telling the story of faith in Britain over the past 6,000 years. The Faith Museum will be located in a 14th-century wing of the historic Auckland Castle.

Premier Christian News reports it will open in October as the centrepiece of the Auckland Project that will celebrate Bishop Auckland’s history and heritage. It will feature more than 250 objects from 50 national institutions and private collections.

They include the Binchester Ring — a silver ring with a carnelian stone and images of an anchor and fish, that was excavated from the nearby Vinovium Roman fort. Experts say it suggests a link to early Christianity.

Also on display will be a rare copy of William Tyndale’s first English translation of the New Testament from 1525 and the Morton Frontal, a patchwork made from 15th century silk velvet church vestments that were beautifully embroidered to depict imagery such as the lily crucifix. The 13th-century Bodleian Bowl will also be on show while on loan from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford as an early example of evidence of Jewish communities in Britain.

The Guardian reports a campaign has been launched to bring a remarkable 16th-century tapestry commissioned by Henry VIII from Spain to be the centrepiece of the Faith Museum.

Saint Paul Directing the Burning of Heathen Books is “effectively the birth certificate of the Church of England,” according to Jonathan Ruffer, the founder of the Auckland Project in County Durham, the site of the Faith Museum. For 200 years the six metre long tapestry was believed to have been destroyed until it was discovered unrecognised in a Spanish collection in 2014.

The Guardian writes that the Spanish government imposed an export ban on the work, but said if it could be bought by a suitable UK institution it would be allowed to return to Britain. It is being sold for around A$7 million with a further A$2 million needed for export taxes and other costs.