Cursed' saddle used by Queen Elizabeth I and once owned by late writer Miles Kington expected to fetch £10,000 at auction
An historic saddle used by Queen Elizabeth I and once owned by the late writer Miles Kington, who joked it holds a bizarre and terrible curse, is expected to fetch more than £10,000 at auction.
The emerald green quilted saddlecloth, used by the Virgin Queen on a Royal visit to Bristol in 1574, will go under the hammer at auctioneer Dreweatts’ sale of militaria at Donnington Priory near Newbury, Berks, on September 26.
It is elaborately decorated with gold lace and a gold fringe and has been an heirloom in the Kington family for generations.
Elizabeth used the saddle as she rode through the cobbled streets of Bristol in a spectacular procession in 1574 where she watched a three-day mock battle and received a £100 gift of gold from the city leaders.
Kington, a brilliant columnist who wrote for The Times, The Independent and Punch was best-known for his hilarious Let’s Parler Franglais! books, before his death from cancer four years ago, aged 66.
But the man who once sent an urgent telegram from Peru ‘Glenfiddich here very warm, please send ice,’ kept The Kington Saddle a closely-guarded secret - until now.
The saddlecloth is estimated to sell for £8,000 to £10,000 when it goes under the hammer
And there will be an added bonus for the successful bidder.
For Miles Kington explained the untold story of The Kington Saddle, in his own inimitable style, to his wife Caroline shortly before his death and a copy will be included in the sale.
Dreweatts’ militaria specialist Malcolm Claridge said: 'Queen Elizabeth I’s saddlecloth is an absolutely unique Royal artefact from the Elizabethan era.
'It is in extremely good condition considering it is 438 years old, and we are expecting a lot of international interest.
'It is mounted in a glass display case and bears a plaque which states ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Saddle, on which she rode on her State visit to Bristol 1574. Afterwards presented to a member of the Kington family’.'
CURSE OF THE KINGTON SADDLE: LATE AUTHOR'S HILARIOUS NOTE TO WIFE
In the note to his wife, Miles Kington wrote: 'My dear Caroline, I sometimes worry that I may pass on to the other side before I have handed down to you the secret of the Kington Saddle.
'Ridiculous, I know, as the doctor has said given reasonable treatment and a visit to the pub every now and then, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t last another 40 years, but nevertheless I think perhaps the time has come to tell the dread secret of the Kington Saddle.
'But it’s just a silly old priceless family heirloom sitting in an old glass case, I hear you laugh.
'There’s nothing secret about it at all .... Ah, would that it were so.
'But this Kington Saddle has been handed down through eight or nine of maybe seventeen generations of the Kington family, all of whom are now dead.
'Yes, every single previous owner of the Kington Saddle is now in another place, and it’s not Saudi Arabia I’m talking about.
'Why do you think they were all struck down before they reached 100? Why do you think nobody ever gets the Kington Saddle out and rides around on it on a horse?
'Why, above all, do you think nobody ever wants to have it in their house, and everyone whispers furtively: ‘Let’s give it to cousin Laurence ... Let’s put it in a museum ... ?’
'I’ll tell you.
'It’s because of the curse of the Kington Saddle. The curse which has scattered the family far afield, from Wrexham to London, from London to Bath, and from Bath to a crazy steam railway between Keighley and Haworth only five miles long, for God’s sake.
'As a child I remember getting a really nasty sore throat and my father leaning over my bed and saying ‘The curse of the Kington Saddle has got him, we must apply the only known antidote, mother, give me a corkscrew - yes, at the age of ten my life was saved by red wine and I have never looked back since, but that is another story.
'I am surprised that you have never noticed that none of the Kingtons ever rides a horse.
'There is a good reason for this. None of us can ever ride a horse because of the secret of the Kington Saddle, and were any of us to mount a horse, it would mean instant death. For the horse.
'My grand-father, Major Kington, mounted a horse for the regimental race in 1907. It collapsed on the starting-line and my grand-mother lost a lot of money.
'My great-great-grandfather Colonel Kington took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade, and had not gone 5 yards before his mount keeled over, dead, badly creasing his trousers.
'My great-great-great ....