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Trowel and mallet used by Mrs Rebecca Noble in laying the corner stone of Noble's Hospital

Date made: c.1886

Maker: Elkingtons

Description: Trowel and mallet, in presentation case, used by Mrs Rebecca Noble when laying the corner stone of the of the new Noble’s Hospital building on 26 July 1886. It was the first purpose-built hospital in the Isle of Man and was funded by her husband, the local benefactor Henry Bloom Noble.

Henry Bloom Noble (1816-1903) made a vast fortune through mining, banking and property. Following the death of his wife in 1888 he established the Henry Bloom Noble Trust and used his great wealth to fund many charitable schemes including the Douglas library and Noble’s park. Using £5,000 provided by her husband, the hospital was built in the garden of Rebecca’s family home, Clifton House.

The first Noble’s Hospital closed in 1911 and was replaced by a new building on the outskirts of Douglas, again funded by Henry Bloom Noble’s Trust. The old hospital building lay empty for several years but found a new lease of life in 1922 when it opened its doors as the Manx Museum. When you leave the Museum, look closely at the walls outside and you will find the corner stone that was laid in July 1886 using this ceremonial trowel and mallet.

A description from the 'Isle of Man Examiner', 31 July 1886 (p.3) reads,

'The trowel is sterling silver of elegant design, with gold decorations, the handle of richly carved ivory representing “The Good Shepherd.” On the front it bears the following inscription:– "This trowel, presented by the Building Committee, was used by Mrs Henry Bloom Noble in laying the foundation stone of Noble’s Isle of Man Hospital, 26th July 1886.” On the other side there is a large view of the Hospital. The ivory mallet is designed in the Gothic style to match the trowel, and has on a silver medallion a smaller view of the building. Both are contained in a pretty morocco leather case made specially for the purpose. They were supplied by Messrs Geo. Sherwood and Co. Ironmongers, Duke Street (whose patterns were selected by the committee in competition with other local firms), and are now on view in the Duke Street window of their establishment. Messrs Elkingtons, of Liverpool, are the makers.’

In April 1862 Henry Noble married Rebecca Thompson, granddaughter of Calcott Heywood who had been a Captain in the Manx Fencibles. They lived initially at the corner of Hope Street and Peel Road, until Noble bought the Villa Marina which was to become their home. They had no children. Mrs Noble is also remembered as a great benefactor to poor people, a specific legacy from her being the founding of the Douglas Orphanage, a plight which was said to be particularly close to her heart.

Materials: ivory, leather, sterling silver

Object name: mallet, trowel

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 1954-1389

Subject tags : #MM100BEAUTIFULTHINGS


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