For the first time since its creation in 1875, the Victorian necklace is on sale.
March 9, 2023: 174 years old jewelers, Hancocks London, is showcasing a Victorian necklace, which is associated with one of the most famous and influential of all English family dynasties.
The necklace dates back to 1875 when John Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, made the gold collar necklace for his wife Frances, daughter of the 3rd Marquess and Marchioness of Londonderry.
The couple had 11 children, including five sons and six daughters. Spanning many eras, the necklace holds memories of the family that created it. It carries eight 18 carat gold panels, in decorative openwork with stylised floral and scroll motifs, connecting eight lockets. Seven of the couple’s children are immortalized in the necklace, with their initials embossed on the glazed enamel lockets, each surrounded by a floral wreath and white bows, while the name of each child and their date of birth is hand engraved on the reverse. The eighth locket displays a ducal coronet set with tiny gems. Hancocks London is looking into the history archives to find out why the couple’s fifth daughter, Lady Georgiana Elizabeth Spencer-Churchill, was, for some reason, either not included or her locket was removed.
The family had close connections with the British Royal family as Frances was a childhood friend of Queen Victoria as well as the goddaughter of the Duke of Wellington. As the Spencer-Churchill family are related to the Spencer family of Althorp, the necklace also links the late Diana Princess of Wales, and consequently, to future King, Prince William, both families being descended from John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough.
Guy Burton, Managing Director, Hancocks London, says, “The Spencer-Churchills were at the very heart of British society and politics for two centuries and this piece, and the names it carries, reflect their status and influence in a way almost no other the family dynasty could match. Its fascinating provenance deserves study by historians equally as much as jewelers.”
He adds, “It is a wonderful collectors’ piece, and you can imagine it being on show in a museum given its historical significance. This really is a once-in-a-lifetime piece to acquire.”
The breathtaking design and the names embossed on the necklace is reminiscent of the Spencer-Churchill family’s fascinating history and some of 19th and 20th centuries’ most notable figures, including Queen Victoria, The Duke of Wellington and Winston Churchill.
- By Pritha Debroy