Royal jewels fetch a princely sum

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THE notorious playboy Prince Regent who became King George IV once gifted this glittering jewellery collection to a much admired lady-in-waiting.

Almost 200 years later the historic gems sent to Miss Charlotte Cotes are helping a more Godly cause, having fetched a princely £30,000 at auction to help fund work at a religious community.

The complete jewellery set included a necklace, two bracelets, earrings and five brooches, and the money raised will help with much-needed repairs of the Community of the Resurrection monastery in Mirfield, near Dewsbury.

Major renovations are needed at the church, which has existed since 1898, and the auction was organised as part of the monks’s efforts to collect £2.3m.

There were a number of lots but the star attraction was the royal collection, donated to the monastery by a distant relative of the Prince Regent to help pay for the repairs and maintenance of the religious building.

Father John Gribben said: “Organising the auction has been a great responsibility. I’m glad it’s over but I have enjoyed every minute.”

Originally the jewellery – all vivid green peridot gem stones set in gold – had been a gift from the libertine Prince to Miss Cotes, one of his daughter Princess Charlotte’s Women of the Bedchamber, which he asked her to wear at the Princess’s wedding to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg later that year.

In a letter which was also sold as part of the lot, penned by an equerry and dated April 30, 1816, he begs her to accept the ‘chrysolites’ – an old English word for jewels.

It reads: “My dear Miss Coats [usually spelt Cotes], I write in great haste by command of the Prince Regent to beg you to accept the set of Chrysolites, which I send with this Note.

“He hopes You will wear it at the Wedding [2 May, 1816] as a proof of his regard. I fear I have not said half enough to Your Sister but they are all talking to [sic] loudly I scarcely know what I am saying.

“Yours sincerely George.”

From 1811 until his accession, George, the Prince of Wales, served as Prince Regent during his father George III’s mental illness, allowing his ministers do much of the work of government while he was mocked for his extravagant lifestyle.

On the death of his father on January 29, 1820, he became George IV, King of Britain and Ireland and of Hanover, until his own death 10 years later, isolated, obese, in debt, and addicted to alcohol and laudanam.

The auction was the latest effort to bolster funds; last year the brethren sold famous ‘mouseman’ Robert Thompson furniture, which fetched £17,800.

Other items sold this year included a 1930s christening robe and a crucifix, a Bishop’s mitre, which went for £60, and a chasuble worn by clergy, which raised £120. A silver paten and chalice studded with amethysts was bought for £900. In total the auction raised £50,000.

Most of the work on the church has now been completed, with nearly £900,000 so far raised.

The Community of the Resurrection moved into a large house in the middle of the diocese of Wakefield in 1898, which became the centre of the religious community. The brethren regarded their ministry as closely connected to the Church of England and, as an extension of their parish ministry, one of their first tasks was to found a theological training college for men without means. The College of the Resurrection opened in 1902 and has trained ordinands – both men and women – for the priesthood.

Recent improvements have included a new heating system as the church’s boiler failed in 2008, disabled access and improved seating, while general redecoration and some structural repairs are also needed.

For further details on the fund-raising visit www.mirfieldcommunity.org.uk/appeal/79-giving or call the monastery on 01924 494318.