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»A petition to keep an historically important, 4,000-year-old wooden figure in the borough has been sent to its owners.

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The Dagenham Idol, which was uncovered just south of Ripple Road, Dagenham in 1922, is on loan to Valence House Museum and is due to return to its owners, Colchester and Ipswich Museums next month.

The petition, signed by around 1,500 residents, asks that the pinewood figure remains permanently in Dagenham, which Valence House staff say is its rightful home.

Curator Leeanne Westwood explained that the Dagenham Idol was taken to Colchester Castle Museum shortly after its discovery because there was not a museum in the borough at the time.

Fascinated

She said: “It remained there until last year, when, following renovations at Valence House, we were given the chance to loan it for a period of time.

“We’ve asked if we can keep the figure permanently but Colchester and Ipswich Museums have said no, claiming far more people view it there.

“However, we don’t agree as since last June about 45,000 people have visited Valence House and lots of them have been fascinated by the Dagenham Idol.”

“So on St George’s Day this year we launched the petition to keep it here, and have had a fantastic response.”

“We’re hoping it will show the museum that the Dagenham Idol is important to a lot of people in this borough and that they’d be very sad to see it leave.

“It is actually rumoured that the figure brings bad luck, but we believe that with it back in Dagenham the curse can be revoked and only good luck will follow.”

To view the Idol visit the museum in Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, Monday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm. Entrance is free. For information call 020 8227 5222.

A spokesman from Colchester and Ipswich Museums said: “We recognise the local interest and the matter is under consideration.”

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