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Seaton Tool Chest

The only surviving complete set of 18th century tools for furniture making in the world.


The story starts with Benjamin Seaton, born in Chatham in 1775, the son of a cabinetmaker and church elder. For his 21st birthday his father bought him a complete and very expensive (for the time) set of woodworking tools, at a cost of £15 pounds, 10 shillings and four pence.

Benjamin’s first task was to make the chest to house his tools – where they still reside today. Despite plans to emigrate to America, Benjamin stayed for his whole working life in Medway. After he died in 1830 his chest remained with the family, with the tools intact, until it was donated to the museum by his grandson in 1910.

Guildhall Museum, Rochester

Guildhall Museum,
17 High St,
ME1 1PY,
United Kingdom


The tool-chest was purpose made by Benjamin Seaton, born in Chatham in 1775, the son of a cabinetmaker and church elder. This collection of tools (many apparently unused and in the same condition as when they were in 1796) is utterly unique, and is a source of pilgrimage for experts worldwide.

  • KS1: Local History, Artists, Craft Makers and Designers
  • KS2: Local History, Britain Beyond 1066, Artists, Architects and Designers in History
  • KS3: Local History, Britain 1745- 1901, History of Art, Craft and Design, Developments in Design and Technology


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