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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 70  1956  page 11
The Origin and First Hundred Years of the Society

By Frank W. Jessup, Honorary General Secretary   continued

   After dinner, so many of the party as had not to take to the trains attended a soirée at the Deanery, where they were most hospitably entertained. (The way in which, in these early years, the members of the Society, often in their hundreds, were entertained to luncheon or tea by the owners of houses or the parsons of churches visited during the annual meetings is eloquent both of the generosity of the County, and of a distribution of resources very different from that which now prevails.) Even this did not conclude the day. "At a later hour some of the party entered the Cathedral, and enjoyed the effect of moonlight upon its windows and tracery, the enjoyment being richly enhanced by the magic effect of Luther’s hymn unexpectedly chaunted by unseen performers which it was afterwards understood was a gratification devised by the Dean and Precentor, thus finishing a day of intellectual enjoyment such as the County had not before experienced and which easily surpassed our most sanguine expectation. It was a day not easily to be forgotten."
   A feature of this first meeting, and of the Society’s Annual General Meetings for many years, was the exhibition, or temporary museum, that was regularly arranged for the benefit of the members. Accustomed as we are to well-filled, and often well-arranged, public museums, it is difficult for us to realize the fervour with which these opportunities to see unusual and interesting exhibits were seized upon by our predecessors a century ago,. Some of the exhibits were

curious rather than important—a brick from Babylon and King Charles I’s toothpick, for example; some were valuable, but not particularly associated with the archaeology of Kent, such as the Canalettos and the Gainsborough shown at the fourth Annual General Meeting at Maidstone; but many were of first-rate interest and importance, including such things as Mr. Gibbs’s antiquities from the King’s Field at Faversham, already referred to, Saxon, Norman and other charters from the Surrenden collection, a bronze Roman statuette of Minerva, found at Plaxtol,1 leaden seals of Constantine, found at Richborough, medieval ivories, gold ornaments from a Saxon cemetery at Sarre, and Roman remains from Hartlip, Upchurch, and Ightham, to mention only a few of the exhibits shown at the first two Annual General Meetings. The enthusiasm with which the annual temporary museum was invariably received led, soon, to the decision that the Society should establish its own permanent collection.2

   1 It was illustrated as the frontispiece to volume LXIX of Archaeologia Cantiana.
   
2 The Society’s collections are, by now, extensive. They are housed at Maidstone Museum, except the Twysden portraits, which are at Bradbourne House, East Mailing, and deeds and other original documents, which are housed at the County Record Office. Lack of space and time has prevented the inclusion, in this paper, of a description of the collections. It is hoped to make good the deficiency in the next volume.

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