Ballymena Rechabite Banner Conserved

19 March 2014






The Mid-Antrim Museum at the Braid has recently had conservation work carried out on a processional Rechabite banner of local and national significance. 

The Independent Order of Rechabites was the largest temperance brotherhood of the late 19th and early 20th century. Its name comes from the biblical character Rechab, whose son Jonadab commanded all his family to abstain from wine and live in tents (Jeremiah Ch35). In imitation of them, the Rechabite brothers called their groupings ‘tents’. Hence, the Ballymena banner is inscribed ‘Seven Towers Tent No 2357 IOR Ballymena’.

The double-sided silk banner has a central painted roundel on each side, and features gilded borders and lettering.  The obverse depicts temple priests offering wine to the Rechabites which they refuse. The reverse depicts Christ walking on water as he rescues Peter from the waves. It was carried in procession by Rechabites in Belfast, Ballymena and other areas up to the 1960s.

The delicate conservation work included cleaning to remove areas of staining and blanching, consolidation of the painted surfaces and repairs to the silk base.  The work was carried out by textile conservator Rachel Phelan based in Dublin and was supported by the Northern Ireland Museums Council.