Orange Order puts focus on its rich tradition of regalia

Outreach officer David Scott, curator Jonathan Mattison, and service officers Coleen Large and Helen Johnston with an unusual Orange banner from the United States
Outreach officer David Scott, curator Jonathan Mattison, and service officers Coleen Large and Helen Johnston with an unusual Orange banner from the United States

The rich material culture of Orangeism is the focus of a new exhibition.

A variety of sashes, collarettes, tablecloths and handkerchiefs are among the many items on public display at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.

A variety of sashes, collarettes, tablecloths and handkerchiefs are among the many items on public display at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast

A variety of sashes, collarettes, tablecloths and handkerchiefs are among the many items on public display at the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast

One of the exhibition centre pieces is a damask linen tablecloth, owned by King William III, which has been on display in the museum since it opened in 2015.

Presented to William, this remarkable item was made to commemorate William’s victory at the city of Grave in 1674 and helps reveal the story of the European power struggle that set the background context for the Williamite Wars.

Orangeism has a material culture tradition dating back to before the formal creation of the Orange Institution in September 1795. Regalia, banners, keepsakes and flags have long been a feature of this tradition, with many early items embodying the message and symbolism of the Glorious Revolution.

Through its latest temporary exhibition, the museum aims to highlight aspects of the tradition it holds in its collection, allowing visitors to see for themselves how such materials were made and used in the past.

Museum of Orange Heritage staff Coleen Large (left) and Helen Johnston, showcase some of the artefacts at the new 'Through the Eye of a Needle' exhibition

Museum of Orange Heritage staff Coleen Large (left) and Helen Johnston, showcase some of the artefacts at the new 'Through the Eye of a Needle' exhibition

Museum of Orange Heritage curator, Jonathan Mattison, said: “We want to highlight the diverse nature of early Orange regalia, explain how it was made and the symbolism that is on display.

“We have a wide variety of textile items in our collection from sashes to banners, and everything in between. We want to use this exhibition and the associated workshops to help people explore this aspect of the Orange tradition.”

The Belfast exhibition, entitled ‘Through the Eye of a Needle’, runs until May. Two textile-based craft workshops will be held on Saturday February 9 and Saturday March 9.

For more information on these interactive events, call 028 9070 1122 or email info@orangeheritage.co.uk.