A late 18th century memorial ring
Lot 27
A late 18th century memorial ring
Sold for £3,360 (US$ 5,377) inc. premium

Lot Details
A late 18th century memorial ring
The navette-shaped plaque with glazed locket compartment encasing a 'wheat-sheaf' of hair, the underside engraved 'Mary Tudor Queen of France Died 1533', on a tapered hoop with engraved shoulders, ring size L, fitted case with interior hand-painted inscription: 'This ring was given by me to the Lady Katherine Manners, eld't dau't to John, 7th Duke of Rutland, on Xmas Day 1897. It contains a lock of the hair of her ancestress the Lady Mary Tudor, dau't of King Henry VII, who mar'd 1stly Louis XII, King of France and 2dly Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. Her descen't by the latter marriage the Lady Frances Brandon, dau't of Charles Brandon, 6th Duke of Suffolk became the wife of John Manners, Marquess of Granby, eld't son of John 3rd Duke of Rutland. Mary Tudor died on 25 June 1533 and was bur'd 22nd July at the monastery of St Edmondsbury. On the dissolution of that house, her coffin was removed to the Parish Church. On 6th Sept 1784 her tomb and its leaden coffin were opened. Her hair, nearly 2 feet long, was found in perfect condition, & this lock was then cut off. The inscription inside the ring is a copy of that on the coffin. Another lock, enclos'd in a locket was exhib'd at the Tudor Exhibition, New Gallery, London, 1890. See Cat, 186', the inscription signed 'Frances Pierrepont Barnard, St Mary's Abbey, Windermere'

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Francis Pierrepont Barnard (1854-1931)
    Lady Katherine Manners (1866-1900)
    Lady Elizabeth Montagu Douglas Scott (née Manners) (1878-1924)
    Direct descent to the current owner

    Francis Pierrepont Barnard, the author of the inscription, was an archaeologist, historian and numismatist and how the ring came to be in his possession is not known. However, the current owner of the ring confirms it was passed down from his grandmother, Lady Elizabeth Montagu Douglas Scott, youngest daughter of the 7th Duke of Rutland who had inherited it from her unmarried sister, Lady Katherine Manners.

    Barnard cites the Tudor Exhibition of 1890, held at the New Gallery, London where another lock of Mary Tudor’s hair was displayed. This lock, number 899 in the catalogue, is listed under “relics” and the catalogue entry describes how in September 1784 Mary Tudor’s tomb, in the Church of Bury St Edmond’s, was opened and “an act of sacrilegious spoliation was committed”. The lead coffin, inscribed “Mary Quene of Ffraunc, 1533” was opened and portions of Mary’s hair, purported to be two feet in length and in perfect condition, were ghoulishly cut off by those present at the disinterment, thus entering various 18th century collections, including that of Charles Blomfield, Alderman of Bury. A lock of hair was also presented to the Dowager Duchess of Portland from whom it passed to the Marquess of Chandos and then sold with the Duke of Buckingham’s effects in 1848 to a Mr Owen of New Bond Street.

    See Catalogue of the Exhibition of the Royal House of Tudor, The New Gallery, London, 1890, number 899 and Samuel Tymms, An Architectural and Historical Account of the Church of St Mary, Bury St Edmund’s, London, 1854, for further information about the opening of Mary Tudor’s coffin.
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