The Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Ethiopian Study Visit - Saturday 4th September 2010

Powell-Cotton Museum, Kent

Given by - organised by Gill Davies

Reviewed by - Stephen Bell

On 4th September, members of the Society visited the Powell-Cotton Museum at Quex Park, Birchington, Kent.

The museum is attached to the former home of Major P H G Powell-Cotton (1866-1940): a fine regency building within spacious and beautifully maintained grounds. Aside from its remarkable collection of natural history and taxidermy, there is also other material of specific interest to Society members, and brought to England after a visit by Cotton-Powell to Ethiopia in 1899-1900.

Abyssinian Triptych (?17th century)
This unusual Ethiopian triptych was 'rescued' by Percy Powell-Cotton on one of his two trips to Abyssinia.
Photo © Andrew Chadwick

After an audience with Emperor Menelik on 5th January 1900, Powell-Cotton was given permission to travel to remote and little-known regions of the country, hunting game and also collecting ethnographic material. The bulk of this Ethiopian collection is on public display within one room of the museum and the curator talked our members through the exhibits, all of which had been acquired through purchase in the course of his wanderings through the country. This includes several examples of religious art that, in particular, gave rise to much animated discussion among our members.

Among the many displays of taxidermy in the museum there are several species collected in Ethiopia and include a Gelada monkey, an Abyssinian ibex and an Abyssinian wolf.

It is of further interest to note that other results of Powell-Cotton's visit are a number of London streets named after Ethiopian locations, being urban developments of the early 20th century that took place on land that he owned at the time. And there is also his account of his visit: A Sporting Trip to Abyssinia, published in 1902 and dedicated to Empress Taitu. This is a rare and much sought-after item for collectors of books on Ethiopia.

First Published in News File Winter 2010

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