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Treasured chest wows Americans

Date: 30/01/2008           Category: Tourism

Described as 'one of the most important woodworking treasures in the world', the Seaton Tool Chest has impressed the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in America. Nearly 500 international woodworking enthusiasts gathered together in January at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, for a conference. They spent a week studying 18th century woodworking tools and techniques. The main focus was a study of the tools in the Seaton Tool Chest, once owned by a Chatham cabinet maker. The contents of the chest were bought in London in 1796 by the father of Benjamin Seaton, a young Chatham cabinet maker. The belief is that Benjamin intended to emigrate to America to make his fortune, but this did not happen. The tool chest remained in the Seaton family until donated by a descendant to the Medway Council-owned Guildhall Museum. The chest and its contents are of great importance to the history of cabinet making. Nearly all the tools have survived in pristine condition allowing them to be used as a dateline for comparison with other tools thought to be of the same period. Items include saws, chisels and gouges, files and rasps, spokeshaves, augers, planes, measuring tools, bradawls, gimlets, punches, braces and wedges, all of which are displayed at the Guildhall Museum. A hand-written 18th century inventory of the contents of the chest is also on display. The 18th century woodwork and tools are now on permanent display at the Guildhall Museum in Rochester. Previously, the Seaton Tool Chest had been exhibited at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. It also featured in a recent Channel 4 TV documentary on the life and times of 18th century master furniture maker Thomas Chippendale. Medway Council's Portfolio Holder for Community Services Cllr Howard Doe said: "This is just another example of the wonderful and interesting exhibits we have at the Guildhall Museum." The Guildhall Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4.30pm. Admission is free. For more information about the museum visit www.medway.gov.uk/tourism