Project information

Keep a Treasure in Lancashire

We will bring back to Lancashire a beautiful silver object with links to the county’s Catholic heritage and to the Preston Lamb, symbol of the city. It will be shown at the Harris Museum for all to enjoy. The pyx is from the 17th century, when Catholicism was banned - it was illegal even to own one.

November 2017 - December 2017

Charity information: Friends of the Harris Museum & Art Gallery

Friends of the Harris Museum & Art Gallery logo
  • Need


    Two years ago, a metal detectorist discovered a small silver container in a field near the M61 in Lancashire. He reported his find and, after researching it, the British Museum declared the pyx to be Treasure. The finder and landowner are therefore entitled to receive the value of the item - £1000. The Harris Museum has been invited to buy the pyx for this amount.


    The Friends of the Harris will raise the money for the pyx to be acquired for the Harris Museum, bringing it back to Lancashire where it was found.

    The project will enable the museum to put the pyx on display and hold a public talk about its history and significance as a rare example of local Catholic history. It was probably dropped by a priest carrying consecrated communion wafers to mass, at a time when Catholic worship was illegal and had to take place in secret.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To acquire the pyx for the Harris Museum


    » We are inviting people to support the purchase of the pyx with a donation

    The Harris Museum will acquire the pyx. It will become part of the museum collection to be held in perpetuity, always available for display, interpretation and research.

    Aim 2

    To share the pyx and its heritage with visitors and local people


    » The pyx will be displayed in the Harris Museum's Discover Preston gallery for everyone to see, and there will be a talk by an expert on its history.

    The pyx will be displayed in the Harris Museum's Discover Preston gallery, where it will help to tell stories about the Preston Lamb, 'Priest Town' and the local Jacobites.

  • Impact


    The pyx will become a valuable addition to the Harris’ collection, which is safeguarded in perpetuity. It will help the Harris to tell stories about Preston and Lancashire's religious past for which the museum currently has limited artefacts. There are over 300,000 visitors to the Harris every year who will be able to enjoy and learn about, not only the pyx itself, but what it shows about 17th century life locally.


    There is a risk that we might not raise all the funding. We will therefore work hard to ensure that news of our project is widely shared through local newspapers and radio, social media and word of mouth. We have a history of successfully raising money through public campaigns, including through The Big Give, for amounts ranging from £4000 upwards, so this is a modest campaign.


    All donors will receive a thank you and a special invitation to the event and talk launching the display of the pyx in the Discover Preston gallery. The Friends will be credited whenever the pyx is displayed. If you choose to make a donation of over £100 we will also credit you, if you wish.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £1,250

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £1,000 Acquisition Purchase of item of Treasure Trove at agreed valuation
      £100 Display Costs of interpreting pyx and placing on display
      £150 Event Speaker's fee and expenses
  • Background


    The Harris Museum is in Preston, Lancashire, and is the cultural heart of the city, located in a Grade 1 listed building. Preston is the county's largest city, and traditionally home of the textile industry and engineering. It now has a varied economy and includes areas of significant deprivation.
    The name Preston comes from 'Priest Town' - Catholicism survived in Lancashire over two centuries of repression after the Reformation. Now it is one of the key faiths in this multi-cultural city.


    Visitors to the Harris will see the pyx and find out about the stories it can tell about the Preston Lamb, religious history and the Jacobites, which still have relevance today.

    The Harris welcomes over 300,000 visitors each year, and provides a wide range of activities for schools, families, young people and adults, which will help people discover more about the pyx's wider heritage.

    The pyx will also be available to researchers and will complement the collections held in other museums.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Friends of the Harris have been supporting the work of the Harris Museum & Art Gallery for over 45 years. Our fundraising helped to create the Discover Preston gallery, buy paintings such as 'Portrait of Richard Arkwright' by Joseph Wright of Derby, and conserve works already in the collection, like John Jenkinson’s 'View of Preston from Penwortham Hill'.

    The Harris Museum is home to thousands of objects telling the story of Preston’s past and connecting people today to events long ago.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    James Arnold

    James is the Harris’ History Curator and is passionate about sharing the history of Preston and its surroundings with visitors and local people.

    The Metal Detectorist

    The finder, who wants to remain anonymous, has made several important finds and is keen for the pyx to return to Lancashire from the British Museum