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Museum call for explorer Stanley
HM Stanley (image from 1895 glass negative bought by Denbighshire Council)
Mr Jeal says Stanley should be honoured in his home town
A biographer of Victorian adventurer Henry Morton Stanley has said his home town should do more to celebrate "the greatest Welshman of all time".

Author Tim Jeal made his call after it was revealed a collection of Stanley's belongings can no longer be kept at Denbigh Library after the building lost museum status.

The collection will now go on permanent tour, or could be moved to Rhyl.

Mr Jeal said it would be "one more insult" if the collection left Denbigh.

In his book, Stanley - Impossible Life Of Africa's Greatest Explorer, Mr Jeal claims the adventurer never used the phrase which made him famous: "Dr Livingstone, I presume?"

It seems surprising and a little bit disgraceful if these things that have recently been bought are sent somewhere else
Biographer, Tim Jeal

But he still believes Wales - and in particular Denbigh - should recognise the achievements of the "greatest land explorer".

Stanley, who was born John Rowlands, was thrown into Denbigh's workhouse at the age of six after the death of his grandfather, Moses Parry.

Years later, Stanley wrote a moving tribute to Parry, who cared for him after he was abandoned by his mother Elizabeth - Parry's daughter.

In 2002, Denbighshire Council used Lottery funding to buy a number of Stanley's belongings at auction, including the explorer's memorial to his grandfather.

Welsh bible

The items, including a pair of his boots, glass plate negatives of him and a Welsh Bible, have been on display at Denbigh Library since 2004 as part of the Denbigh Museum.

But they are to be moved at the end of this month because the listed building has not met educational and environmental control criteria.

The collection will therefore go on permanent tour, or could be housed at Rhyl Museum.

Map of the Congo
Denbighshire Council were unable to acquire Stanley's map of the Congo

Mr Jeal said: "Stanley was the greatest land explorer of the greatest age of exploration since the Portuguese mariners.

"Stanley's formative experiences all happened in Denbigh and St Asaph and to me it seems surprising and a little bit disgraceful if these things that have recently been bought are sent somewhere else.

"I just hope that my more sympathetic portrait will explain why, for part of his life, he could not face being considered a Welshman - because all his family had betrayed him - and will lead to him being treated well in Denbigh."

Mr Jeal said Stanley's hand-written tribute to Moses Parry was "very touching" and, with the rest of the collection, deserved a purpose-built home in the town.

Denbighshire Council said: "Denbighshire is working with partners, including the Denbigh Museum Group, to find a way to keep the collection on view to the public."

The council added it was trying to "find a long term solution to housing the collection in Denbigh - ideally at a dedicated Museum of Denbigh."

Explorer's exhibits on display
20 Apr 04 |  North East Wales


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