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Straw marquetry box

Straw marquetry box

These objects are so fragile that they can’t be on permanent display, but I saw one of them once when it was the object of the month at the Museum. The display case had a cover over it because the box is so sensitive to light. I was intrigued and just had to lift the cover to look at what it was hiding.

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It amazes me that such pretty, delicate items were made by French prisoners from the Napoleonic wars. Chesterfield was a detention depot for French officers on parole from 1803 to 1814. The prisoners could only go as far as one mile from the Market Place in Chesterfield so making these boxes must have been something to do to pass the time, and maybe they sold them to make a little money.

The boxes make me think that fighting was probably one of the last things these men wanted to do when they would rather be using their talents to create something beautiful.

Alyson - tourism, museums and events manager

Last updated on 02 December 2022