Lock of hair belonging to Bonnie Prince Charlie to go to auction

The lock of hair belonging to Bonnie Prince Charlie which helped the Young Pretender promote his cult status centuries before Instagram.
The lock of hair belonging to Bonnie Prince Charlie which helped the Young Pretender promote his cult status centuries before Instagram.
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A lock of hair belonging to Bonnie Prince Charlie which helped the Young Pretender promote his cult status centuries before Instagram will be sold at auction next month.

The relic is preserved in a snuff box depicting a portrait of the Jacobite figure, and is being sold as part of a massive lot from one of Britain's grandest stately homes, Also up for auction is a rock crystal clan charm, believed to date from the seventh or eighth century before later being turned into a pendant, which was discovered in a cellar.

Lucy Brown, Head of Sotheby's Edinburgh, with a rock crystal clan charm, believed to date from the seventh or eighth century before later being turned into a pendant.

Lucy Brown, Head of Sotheby's Edinburgh, with a rock crystal clan charm, believed to date from the seventh or eighth century before later being turned into a pendant.

Aristocrat Henry Berkeley inherited Spetchley Park, in Worcester, West Mids, two years ago and is renovating it to live there with his wife and young children.

He is selling around 750 items from the Regency house's Berkeley Collection, divided up into 286 lots, which will go under the hammer at Sotheby's in London on December 11.

The collection has remained in the same building for 200 years.

Among the treasures are a gold-mounted tortoiseshell snuff box featuring a portrait of Charles Edward Stuart, or 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' as he was widely known, and containing a lock of his hair.

The unusual trinket was compared to an Instagram account by David Macdonald, Sotheby's head of UK single owner sales.

Mr Macdonald said: "The Prince Charlie box is really interesting.

"He didn't have an Instagram account, it was a way of getting his image out there."

The 18th century box, which is believed to have once been owned by wealthy Jacobite supporters, was crafted by two men in France.

It was gifted as a Christening present to the Berkeley family in the early 20th century, and was valued at £3,000 and £5,000.

Mr Macdonald said it was an example of the 'cult' status of the prince - and said he hopes it will return to Scotland.

He said: "This would've been a rich supporter of the Jacobite's case.

"There's also a lock of the prince's hair, so we've got almost a religious relic. He is a hero and this box is part of that cult. I hope it goes back to Scotland and is treasured."

A mysterious pendant, believed to date from the seventh or eighth century before being remounted in the 19th Century, was discovered in the cellar.

It is believed to have been a clan's charm stone, and is similar to the famous Glenorchy Charmstone in the National Museums of Scotland.

It was originally valued at only £150, but following significant interest it is now estimated to sell for more than £1,000.

Mr Macdonald said: "We have a thing about stones - it's straight out of Outlander, Highlander or even Harry Potter. It was found caked in dust and dirt but valued it.

"Only when it came to London and was cleaned we believe it was a charm stone. They were imbued with power and would've been worn by the clan chief. When you hold it it's quite special.

"As a Scot I love the two items but there's something for everyone in this collection, from paintings to ornaments. It's a multilayered story of a country home and the things people chose to have around them."

Mr Berkeley said: "We have taken the difficult but necessary decision to put some of the collection to the market so that it can be nurtured by those who will understand its provenance.

"The Spetchley collection is iconic in that it has remained in the same house since it was built over 200 years ago. The sale will also allow us to undertake the enormous task of this renovation and so create a wonderful legacy for future generations as well as provide a beautiful backdrop to the magical gardens, enjoyed by so many visitors through the summer."