The Keys to Jerusalem were returned to the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment Museum at Maidstone Museum last week.
The Keys have been on loan to the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem since 2017 where they formed part of an exhibition on the centenary of Jerusalem’s Ottoman surrender to British Troops on 11 December 1917, during the First World War.
Maidstone Museum’s Collections Manager, Sam Harris, said:
“This loan is a great example of the many important international collaborations that Maidstone Museums are involved in all over the globe, highlighting and sharing Maidstone’s world class collections and stories.”
The 2/20th London Regiment (linked to the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment), were at the surrender, and two cooks are said to have unofficially received the ceremonial keys on 9 December 1917 from Jerusalem’s dignitaries, including the mayor, priests, rabbis and imams, who came bearing the keys of the city and a white flag. General Sir Edmund Allenby walked into Jerusalem following the official surrender on 11 December 1917 with much ceremony.
A proclamation announcing that all the hallowed sites of the three religions associated with the city (Christianity, Judaism and Islam), were to be guarded and preserved for the free use of worshippers was read in English, French, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Russian and Italian from the terrace of the entrance to the citadel below the Tower of St David. The ceremony was recreated in the same position in Jerusalem on the centenary, 11 December 2017.
Cllr Paul Harper, Chair of the Heritage, Culture & Leisure Committee at Maidstone Borough Council, said:
“It’s wonderful to see objects in the Museum’s collections being shared internationally, reflecting their significance not just to local residents but also to the wider global community.”
The ceremonial keys are now back on display in the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment Museum.
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