ONE-OF-A-KIND pieces of antique silverware have been returned to Colchester Town Hall for the first time in more than a century.

The historic casket and key, which were originally made for former mayor of Colchester Wilson Marriage, were presented back to the borough during a special ceremony at the venue.

Colchester mayor Nick Cope accepted the items from Sarah Bowler, the great-granddaughter of Mr Marriage.

Sarah’s great-aunt Catherine Alderton also served the borough, becoming the first woman mayor in 1923.

The items will now be on public display at the High Street venue.

Mr Cope said: “On behalf of the residents of Colchester I would like to thank Sarah and Isobel especially for donating such cherished heirlooms that not only have immense family significance but are of great historical importance in Colchester’s civic story.

“It’s touching to know Isobel wanted to see them on permanent display in the Town Hall so they can be appreciated by visitors for generations to come.”

The silver key features the Arms of Colchester in enamel at the end of the handle.


It was presented to Mr Marriage in October 1892 to mark the opening of Castle Park.

The silver casket was presented to him on September 18, 1918, when he received the Honourary Freedom of Colchester, the highest honour of the borough.


Both were bequeathed to Colchester Council by Sarah’s late daughter Isobel Bowler, who died in 2016.

Public service ran in the family and before she died, Isobel had served on Sheffield City Council as cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure.

Before her death Isobel made it clear she wanted the items returned to public display in Colchester.

Sarah said: “It gives me great pleasure to present the casket and key as a bequest from my late daughter, Isobel Bowler, to the borough of Colchester.

“Isobel wanted to restore her great-great-grandfather’s gifts from Colchester Council to their place of origin.

“Our family, both in the past and in the present, has strong connections with Colchester.

“It seems fitting for these particular family heirlooms to become part of the display in the Town Hall.”

Mr Marriage is one of Colchester’s most famous former residents and served as mayor four times between 1892 and 1914.

He founded Wilson Marriage School within Grade-II listed premises in Hythe Hill.

The building is now home to adult education centre the Wilson Marriage Centre.

The items can be seen at Colchester Town Hall during its opening hours.