Many objects in the University collections throw light on its history and developing traditions. These include commemorative portraits, ceremonial robes and personal effects of some notable staff and students. Objects range from the first key to the University, to the small Union Jack taken on the Challenger Space Mission which in 1985 carried a telescope built at the University into earth orbit. There is material relating to the two World Wars, including a quilt embroidered by soldiers convalescing in the Great Hall when this was used as a hospital, and shrapnel found by students after an air raid in 1940. The collection also includes architectural fixtures and fittings such as Rolls of Honour and commemorative plaques.
The Heritage Collection also includes artefacts that relate to the University’s manuscript and archive deposits, such as personal effects of Edward VII, Joseph Chamberlain, Lord Avon and Noel Coward, commemorative medals, boxes, busts, plaques and textiles.