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The Jewel House

The Jewel House
Title: The Jewel House
Release Date: 2018-11-24
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 43
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The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.


Reproduced by permission of Messrs. Cassell & Co., from a painting made by Mr. Cyril Davenport (Copyright).


An Account of the Many RomancesConnected with the Royal RegaliaTogether with Sir Gilbert Talbot’sAccount of Colonel Blood’s PlotHere reproduced for the first Time

K.C.M.G., K.C.I.E., C.B.


The Mayflower Press, Plymouth, England. William Brendon & Son Ltd.


I. The Jewel House 11
II. The Regalia in the Tower 34
III. The Regalia (continued) 50
IV. The Royal Plate 61
V. The King’s Ecclesiastical Plate 71
VI. The Regal Emblems 80
VII. The Great Tragedy 91
VIII. The Keepers of the Jewel House 109
IX. Pomp and Circumstance 127
X. The Romance of the Great Gems 143
XI. The Crime of Colonel Blood 174
XII. The Orders of Chivalry 191


A. The Keepers of the Regalia from 1042-1920 22
B. Letter from Queen Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII 24
C. Complete List of the Regalia in the Jewel House 228
D. Sir Gilbert Talbot’s MSS. 232
  Index 250
  Footnotes 257


The King’s State Crown Frontispiece
The Queen’s State Crown 41
The King’s Orb 47
The King’s Royal Sceptre 86
The Jewel House in Queen Elizabeth’s Reign (double page) 16
The Jewel House in 1815 19
The Jewel House in 1920 22
The Imperial Indian Crown 38
The Diadem of Mary of Modena 40
The King’s Sceptre before and after the Introduction of the Star of Africa 43
The Jewelled State Sword 83
The Keeper of the Jewel House in his State Robes 109
Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex 116
The Black Prince with the famous Ruby 144
The Duke of Wellington at the first cutting of the Koh-i-Nur Diamond 158
Portrait of Colonel Blood 174
Colonel Blood stealing the Crown 181
Facsimile of a Page from Sir Gilbert Talbot’s MSS. 232
Facsimile of a Page from Sir Gilbert Talbot’s MSS. 233



When kings began to reign—The Crown of the King of the Ammonites—ACrown weighing 125 lbs.—The Treasure House ofKings—Egbert the first King of England—His regalia—KingAlfred’s Crown—Edward the Confessor’s Crown and Staff andRing—The Crown Jewels first placed in Westminster Abbey—HenryIII removes them to the Tower of London—The JewelChamber in the White Tower—The Jewel House in the reign ofQueen Elizabeth—The Martin Tower turned into the JewelHouse by Charles II—The word “Bolleyn” on the wall—Northumberlandand Heriot prisoners there—A slender guardand the result—Colonel Blood fails in his attempt on the Crown—Northumberland’sghost—Narrow escape from fire of theJewel House—Removal of Crown Jewels to the WakefieldTower—Its former history—Origin of name—The murder ofHenry VI in this tower—The young Princes buried in the basement—Thelesson from St. Patrick’s Jewels—King Edward VIImakes the Jewels secure—The tantalized burglar—The Germanlady and the Kaiser’s hopes—The Jewels in the Great War—Theirnarrow escapes—Their removal till the end of the War—Returnto the Tower—Their wonderful adventures as recorded.

WHEN Kings first began to reign on earththey wore on their heads and carried intheir hands the emblems of royalty.To give them dignity, the seats theyoccupied were raised and glorified and becamethrones. Thousands of years ago the crown became12the mark of sovereignty, for did not Saul fight hislast battle wearing his crown, and with the braceleton his arm? Whilst the prophet Samuel in hisbook records that the crown of the King of theAmmonites, taken in battle by King David, was ofpure gold, studded with precious stones. Theprophet also commits himself so far as to add thatthis crown weighed one talent. Perhaps in this detailwe may make allowance for Eastern hyperbole,a talent being equivalent to 125 lb., or the weightof two fair-sized portmanteaux. It is not reasonableto assume that even the most muscular King wouldwith equanimity thus handicap himself whilstwaging war. The throne of Solomon has becomehistoric, made, we are told, of ivory overlaid withgold with a lion standing on each side, and twelvelions guarding the sides of each of the six steps thatled up to it. As the value and number of kinglyemblems increased, it became necessary to depositthem when not in use in a place of security stronglyguarded, which came to be known as the TreasureHouse of the King. In ancient days it was notunusual to place the Regalia in some holy place,such as a church or cathedral, where the sanctityof the building was held to be an additional safeguard;but more usually it would be kept with the King inhis castle.

Egbert, the first King of England, was crownednearly eleven hundred years ago, in A.D. 827, and13King George V, the present King of England, is hisdirect descendant. The English monarchy is theoldest in Europe, and the English Royal Family hada longer pedigree than that of any European potentate,even before the Great War. The kingly emblemsin King Egbert’s days were few and of no great value,probably nothing more than a crown and a sceptre.The crown of King Alfred was made of gold wire,and was, when broken up and melted down by theCommonwealth, valued only at £238 10s. 0d.Edward the Confessor, besides a crown, had a staffor long sceptre, a replica of which is now amongstthe Crown Jewels. He also had a Coronation ringset with a large and very fine sapphire, which samesapphire may be seen in the cross paté on top ofKing George V’s State Crown.

As the Crown Jewels increased in number andvalue, the King ceased to carry them about with himon all occasions, and they were handed over to thesafe keeping of the Abbot and monks of Westminster.In Westminster Abbey can still be pointedout the Chapel of the Pix, where the regal emblemswere kept. It is not improbable that Edward theConfessor inaugurated this manner of safeguardingthe Regalia when not in use, and his successors fortwo hundred years followed his example. Butthough Westminster Abbey proved a sure sanctuaryagainst robbers and marauders from the outer world,unfortunately within the sacred walls were those14inured to sanctity, and who were by no meansindisposed to profit in so obvious and mundane amatter as disposing of the Crown Jewels. Probablythe Treasure Chamber was rarely inspected orvisited, and as the monks themselves were theguardians, inconvenient inquiries might easily bedisposed of, unless and until certain portions of theRegalia were required for the King’s personal use.It was doubtless some such demand which led tothe discovery that the Treasure Chamber had beenbroken into and some of the Regalia had disappeared.

The chief regal emblems, such as the Crown andSceptre, had been transferred to the Tower byHenry III, but the lesser yet very valuable piecesof plate were still at Westminster. The theft wasbrought home to a monk named Alexandre dePershore, who had sold the plate to a travellingmerchant named Richard de Podelicote. As aresult the Abbot Wenlock and forty-eight monkswere tried and sentenced to two years’ imprisonmentin the Tower. This was in the reign of Edward I,and as a result the King decided that WestminsterAbbey was not altogether a safe place for anyportion of so valuable a collection of plate andjewelry, and ordered it all to be transferred to theTower of London. An official Keeper of the Regalia,whose duty it was to guard

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