Allen, A.W. (polehead collector)

Date: 1700s-1800sExtent: 381
brass polehead with crown from Allen collection of poleheads
Brass polehead MERL 55/1002

Mr A. W. Allen was a private collector of Friendly Society Emblems. These metal poleheads would be attached to a pole and carried in procession by the members of village clubs on their annual ‘walks’. These clubs were parish friendly societies formed to provide some insurance for their members against sickness or death. In addition the clubs played an important part in the social life of the village. Each Friendly Society would have an emblem of a different design, from simple shapes like diamonds, hearts and crescents, to elaborate designs of ships, horses or more symbolic designs.

The collection is mainly from Somerset but also includes examples from Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Northamptonshire. It also contains some wooden parade poles.

More Information:

The objects are catalogued on the online database. Search using the word ‘polehead’

Other poleheads collections include Jardine, Shickle and Forster

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