A love story etched in silver and diamonds

The Duke of Buccleuch with some of the highly valuable items, including the Mayflower Tiara and a solid silver candelabrum weighing 12st 4lbs.
The Duke of Buccleuch with some of the highly valuable items, including the Mayflower Tiara and a solid silver candelabrum weighing 12st 4lbs.

A new exhibition of rare and fascinating items collected in the Victorian era is on display at Bowhill House – home of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch.

Entitled ‘Love and Respect in the Victorian Age’, it showcases a range of around 70 items including silver, porcelain, jewellery, books and manuscripts, paintings and miniatures.

Objects of immense value mingle with the practical and domestic to tell the story of Walter Francis Montagu Douglas Scott, 5th Duke of Buccleuch and 7th Duke of Queensberry and his wife, Charlotte-Anne, whose marriage in 1829 lasted until his death over half a century later.

As he neared the end of his life, he reflected to his ‘dearest Char’, that, ‘I would never have loved you so much had I not respected you more.’

As well as being the principle builders of Bowhill they were huge collectors of all forms of art.

Highlights include the beautiful Mayflower Tiara – a diamond, gold and silver tiara made in the 1870s, which has been worn by many of the family’s brides on their wedding days, and can be disassembled to form nine brooches.

Also on show is a silver-gilt plate, one of 12 engraved with the Parable of the Prodigal Son which dates from 1568.

Curator Scott Macdonald said: “While some of the items showcased have been seen in a limited fashion in the various Buccleuch homes or on loan to exhibitions, many such as the exquisite Mayflower Tiara and diamond earrings have never been seen by the public at large.

“A special treat will be the opportunity to see close-up details on the immense solid silver candelabrum made in 1829 by Robert Garrard which tells the story of the Scotts of Buccleuch in silver figures and which weighs in at an astonishing 12 stone 4lbs.”

The Duke is hoping visitors will think about the lives of the two principle characters.

He said: “There are items that are deeply poignant, such as the Duke’s travel journal written in 1839 when the couple’s children contracted measles while they were in Naples and Francis, their youngest son, died. However, there are also items displaying a sense of humor.

The exhibition is open every day in July and August from 11am-4pm. Entry costs £6 or £4 if purchased with a house ticket.