Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria to include a Fine Collection of Napoleonic Medals (25 March 2015)

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Date of Auction: 25th March 2015

Unsold

Estimate: £4,000 - £6,000

Historic Hair Bracelet That Belonged to Frances Lady Shelley, a most rare plaited hair and unmarked gold bracelet, the plaited hair being from the tail of Copenhagen, the Duke’s charger at Waterloo, the oval locket finial is embellished with ‘W’ within laurel sprays and contains a lock of the Duke’s hair. Complete with a card box the lid of which bears Lady Shelley’s handwriting as follows, ‘1815 The Hair of Copenhagen Paris 1815, the Duke’s charger at Waterloo which I rode at the Paris Review, cut off then & the Duke put his own hair into the clasp of the bracelet. The bracelet now contained in a blue velvet box the lid being blocked with the word Eulalia, the inside of the lid gold blocked Ravaut 15, Rue de la Paix Paris, very good condition £4000-6000

Footnote

Note: Frances, Lady Shelley, (died 1873 aged 85) kept an extensive diary from 1787 to 1817. She was a famous horsewoman of the day and was a particular friend of the Duke of Wellington. It is recorded that Lady Shelley accompanied the Duke along ten miles of infantry at the Paris Review. The then Lord Ellesmere records that Mrs. Arbuthnot and other ladies had bracelets made of the horse’s hair.

Extracts from The Diary of Frances Lady Shelley: 1787-1817:

In May 1814 the Duke came to a party at Frances’s house.

She wrote afterwards:

“In the course of the evening when I had lost something of the awe which the Duke’s presence inspired, I ventured to converse with him. From that time our acquaintance increased till it has almost become intimacy.”

Not long afterwards, after a dinner at Carlton House:  “I walked about with Wellington from supper time until we went away at five in the morning.”

“He is undoubtedly the finest character that any age has produced.”

June 1815: “What wonderful changes! The battle of Waterloo is gained and Wellington has beat Bonaparte in person; and with an inferior force. This battle has raised the English character even higher and makes one proud indeed of having been born in the country which produced a Wellington.”

She went over to Paris after Waterloo with her husband. Wellington came to see her. “Here was a man in the very midst of his camp, only a fortnight after that battle, walking unattended from his palace to call upon me the moment that he heard of my arrival in Paris…..My enthusiasm for this great soldier was so great that I could not utter one word and it was with the greatest difficulty that I restrained my tears.” 

Later on:

“At eight o’clock next morning the Duke called me to take me to the review, where I had the happiness of riding by his side along the line; and stood by him while the troops marched past. They numbered about 10,000 and all of them had fought at Waterloo!”

August 1815: “I have passed a very happy day. The Duke asked if I would like to ride his horse at the Russian review. Of course I was delighted! We were late; so the Duke sent Lord Arthur to escort me. I rode at the Duke’s side. The Emperor of Russia spoke to me. A great honour indeed! Lord Cathcart told me afterwards that the Emperor was never known to speak to any woman on parade except the Crown Princess of Russia! I suppose he made an exception in my favour because he thinks that the Duke likes me.”

A few days later she admitted after another ride, “A charming ride of two hours. But I found Copenhagen the most difficult horse to sit of any I had ever ridden. If the Duke had not been there, I should have been frightened.”