Curator ignores police orders to delete tweets on destroying statues

EXCLUSIVE: Police demand Oxford-educated American museum curator DELETES controversial tweets on how to destroy statues with household chemicals – but hours later she has NOT taken them down

  • Curator Madeline Odent caused outrage when she tweeted a guide on how household chemicals could be used to destroy statues  
  • Hertfordshire Police told MailOnline that officers have had ‘strong words of advice’ and forced her to delete the posts 
  • It comes as local officials spoke of their ‘disgust’ at Mrs Odent’s behaviour, saying that her tweets were ‘appalling’ 

An Oxford-educated museum curator who tweeted a guide on how to chemically destroy bronze statues has been ordered by police to delete the posts but continues to ignore their instructions.

Madeline Odent, the privately schooled curator of Royston Museum in Hertfordshire, sent an inflammatory series of tweets to her 5,164 followers, ending with an explicit suggestion that the statue of Winston Churchill should be targeted.

The tweets caused outrage in the sleepy community, with local officials telling MailOnline that the American-born curator acted in an ‘abhorrent’ and ‘disgusting’ way and members of the public reporting her to the police. 

Today, Hertfordshire Constabulary issued ‘strong words’ of advice and told her to delete the tweets, MailOnline can reveal. But the controversial posts were still on her private Twitter account this evening. 

Madeline Odent, the curator of Royston Museum in Hertfordshire, received a police warning

Mrs Odent provoked outrage when she shared advice online about defacing statues

Royston Museum in Hertfordshire remained closed up and fenced off today


Former Royston mayor Vera Swallow, left, and local councillor Margueritte Philips, right, both condemned Mrs Odent’s actions

American-born Madeline Odent is curator of Royston Museum in Hertfordshire

A police source said: ‘Following reports regarding comments made on a private twitter account about the way damage can be caused to statues, we have now spoken to all of the parties concerned.

‘Strong words of advice have been issued with regards to the content of the tweets and the use of social media, and the information has now been removed.’

This evening, however, several hours after police issued the order, the posts remained on her Twitter account, though as it remains private it cannot be viewed by anybody who she has not approved as a follower. 

Vera Swallow, a former mayor of Royston, told MailOnline that the incident had damaged the local community’s reputation. ‘I am absolutely disgusted at this,’ she said. ‘It is abhorrent and has tainted the area.

‘You can’t destroy our history, or call for it to be destroyed. I am so angry, as are many local people. The whole thing is appalling.’

A local councillor, Marguerite Phillips, said: ’There is an investigation going on and I am 100 per cent confident that the Town Clerk will do her job thoroughly.

‘I do worry about what’s going on in the world. People seem to be coming out of the lockdown not thinking rationally and acting very strangely.’ 

A senior council source added: ‘This has caused a great deal of anger in Royston and locals are asking us to fire her.’

American-born Mrs Odent comes from a privileged background. Her father, Dr Stephen Briggs, a personality psychologist, is president of Berry College, an affluent private liberal arts college in Georgia which boasts the largest college campus in the world. She moved to Britain in 2015.

In the posts, the banker’s wife used her knowledge of preserving ancient artefacts to suggest that people use substances found in household products to dissolve public statues.

Mrs Odent published a string of tweets disclosing how to create maximum damage to statues

One of the series of tweets, which attracted many thousands of shares online

Mrs Ordent was unrepentant when members of the public complained about her messages

In February, she scheduled ‘Drag Queen Story Time’, though it had to be postponed

Mrs Odent was unrepentant online yesterday, taunting her critics and claiming to have the support of her employers at Royston Museum

Glamorous curator Madeline Odent, whose maiden name was Madeline Briggs, comes from a wealthy family of American academics and is married to a banker.

The privately-educated curator claims to speak English, Spanish and Welsh. On her social media profile, she says that she brings an ‘entrepreneurial mindset to the museum industry’.

Born in the United States, Madeline – known to her family as ‘Maddy’ – has two sisters, Morgan and Meredith. Her father, Dr Stephen Briggs, a personality psychologist, is the president of Berry College, a private liberal arts college in Georgia. He and her mother, Brenda Morgan Briggs, are old university friends.

Mrs Ordent went to Darlington High School, a private, co-educational boarding school in Georgia. Set in 500 acres of land, the school is based on the English public school system.

After graduating, the firebrand curator attended Stetson University, a private college in Florida, where she became president of the Honor Council and was a keen rower. In 2013, she was named a National Scholar Athlete by the Collegiate Coaches Rowing Association.

In 2014, she graduated with a BA in History, before moving to Britain and taking an MPhil in Early Modern British History at Oriel College, Oxford, two years later.

Pursuing her passion for rowing, she often coxed at Oxford. In one slightly jarring incident, she was sanctioned by university officials even though she claims to have done nothing wrong.

On completing her studies, she returned to the United States, working as a barista in a coffee shop in Georgia. She was then given a job at Berry College, where her father is president, as assistant rowing instructor.

Mrs Odent, right, and her banker husband Pascal,left

In 2017 she married prominent banker Pascal Odent. The couple staged two lavish ceremonies, one in an English country house and the other in the opulent surroundings of her father’s college in Georgia, which sits in 26,400 acres of magnificent landscaped gardens.

The new Mrs Odent went on to spend a year as a self-employed freelance researcher in London, before landing a job as curator and manager at Royston Museum, Hertfordshire, in August 2018.

Since commencing her role in Royston, Mrs Odent has introduced a radical agenda to the museum’s scheduling, including a ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ session. She has a fondness for corgis. 

It is ‘extremely difficult’ to remove the chemicals once they have been applied, she said, adding that ‘it can be done, but the chemical needed is super carcinogenic, so it rarely is’.

‘We haven’t found a way to restore artefacts that this happens to,’ she tweeted. ‘Which is a shame, since we all immediately forget history when statues are destroyed.’

She then posted a picture of Winston Churchill’s defaced plinth, commenting: ‘Stay tuned for our next edition, where we’ll be talking about marble memorials of racists.’

The posts were met with outrage online, with many users reporting her both to the town council and the police. But Mrs Odent was defiant, taunting her critics.

In response to members of the public contacting the museum on Twitter, she wrote: ‘a) my boss thinks I’m funny, b) she also supports BLM, and c) I’m the one reading [your direct messages].’

In a further act of provocation, the official museum Twitter account, which Mrs Odent suggested she is controlling, posted: ‘We’ve just tidied up our cellar in case any town needs to remove a statue of a racist and put it somewhere’. 

Mrs Odent also claimed that she had negotiated a contract with her employer that allowed her to ‘decolonise and diversify’ the museum, and that her boss had given her a ‘safe platform’ that she would use to ‘p*** off some racists’.

But her boss, the Town Clerk Caroline Mills, is the one heading the investigation, MailOnline understands.

The Town Clerk’s office has issued a statement on the matter which said: ‘The Town Council does not endorse the comments or views expressed.’

This evening, Mrs Odent appeared to double down on her defiance by ignoring police instructions to delete the controversial posts. 

The furore over her tweets comes as demands grow from protesters for memorials all over the country to be torn down due to their links to the slave trade and Britain’s colonial past. 

Today, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council was forced to bring in 24-hour security to protect a seaside statue of Lord Baden-Powell after it dramatically abandoned plans to remove it.

And on Sunday, a statue of C17th slave trader and philanthropist Edward Colson in Bristol was torn down and thrown into the dock, mirroring several incidents in America. 

The glamorous curator, whose maiden name was Briggs, comes from a wealthy family of American academics and is married to a banker.

After graduating with an MPhil from Oxford University, Mrs Odent returned to the United States where she worked for a year as an assistant rowing instructor at Berry College, where her father is president. 

In 2017, she married banker Pascal Ordent in two lavish ceremonies, one in an English country house and the second in her father’s luxurious college in the United States. 

Since taking up her role at Royston Museum in 2018, Mrs Odent, who studied at a private university in Florida before moving to Britain to pursue a postgraduate course in history at Oxford, has introduced a radical agenda to the sleepy Hertfordshire establishment.

In February, she scheduled a ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ event, writing on Facebook: ‘If you’re introduced to difference in a positive way, you’ll respond to difference in a positive way. Thrilled to be putting this on.’ The event has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes as several Labour councils drew up a list of controversial statues in their communities which could be torn down.

Dozens of memorials honouring colonial figures have been targeted for removal by activists, who yesterday crossed another name off their nationwide hit-list.

The monument of 18th Century slave dealer Robert Milligan was uprooted from its spot on West India Quay in London’s docklands to the cheers of spectators.

Many more in the cross-hairs are expected to fall after all 130 Labour-led authorities clubbed together to promise to ‘review the appropriateness of local monuments and statues on public land and council property’.

Several local leaders have already earmarked some statues for removal. Cardiff Council leader Huw Thomas threw his weight behind campaigners wanting to get rid of the statue of slave holder Sir Thomas Picton.

Edinburgh council leader Adam McVey said he would feel ‘no sense of loss’ if a statue to Henry Dundas, who delayed the abolition of slavery, was removed.

Plymouth council said a public square named after slave trader Sir John Hawkins would be renamed. Mayor or London Sadiq Khan is also conducting his own review of statues in the capital.

Mrs Odent has been approached for comment.

Mrs Odent has introduced a radical agenda to the sleepy Hertfordshire museum, including a ‘Drag Queens Story Time’ 

 Mrs Ordent married banker Pascal Ordent in 2017, in two lavish ceremonies in Britain and America

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