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Neck chain

Neck chain

  • Place of origin:

    Ireland (island) (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved wood and cotton thread

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mary Miller

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This neck chain with crucifix was worn on stage by Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905), one of the greatest actor-managers in the history of the British stage and the first actor ever to be awarded a knighthood. Born in Somerset as John Henry Brodribb, Irving began his professional acting career at the age of eighteen despite parental disapproval. In 1866, after working for ten years in the provinces, he came to the St James's Theatre in London as actor and stage manager. He joined the Lyceum Theatre company in 1871, and that November his triumphant performance as Mathias in The Bells won him universal acclaim. He assumed management of the Lyceum Theatre in 1878, beginning an association with the theatre that lasted for over twenty years.

Irving's productions at the Lyceum were famous for their scenic effects, visual spectacle and the care and expense lavished on the set and the costumes. This neck chain is surprisingly light, being carved from Irish bog oak, according to Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson, the great theatrical collectors who gave it to the donor who in turn presented it to the Theatre Museum.

Physical description

Wooden crucifix tied with black cotton thread to a long neck chain composed of alternate round and oval wooden links, the oval links being split to allow the round links to pass through. Given with 10 separate spare round links. Carved from Irish bog oak and stained black.

Place of Origin

Ireland (island) (possibly, made)


ca. 1900 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved wood and cotton thread


Length: 114 cm of chain, Diameter: 2.1 cm of round links, Length: 2.3 cm of oval links, Length: 6.8 cm, Width: 4.1 cm of crucifix, Depth: 0.3 cm of crucifix

Descriptive line

Neck chain and crucifix worn on stage by Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905). Carved from Irish bog oak. Given by Mary Miller.


Bog oak




Entertainment & Leisure


Theatre and Performance Collection

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