A rare 15th century gold heart-shaped brooch will be auctioned on 23rd August at Hansons Auctioneers.
The exquisite high carat jewel is inlaid with white enamel and engraved with the French inscription honor et ioie (Honour and Joy). Discovered in 2016, just outside the moat of Kirby Muxloe Castle, Leicestershire.
“The jewel was found by a metal detectorist on land bordering the moat of the castle and at first was unaware of its value,” Charles Hanson commented, manager of Hansons Auctioneers and frequently seen on BBC Bargain Hunt.
“It is truly an object which we would love to ask the question ‘if it could talk what could it tell us?’ The brooch for all its romance from such a turbulent time in British history gives me goose pimples. It is the type of historical item which this medieval tale of its ownership is built on.”
William Hastings built the castle. One of the most powerful men in England, he inherited his father’s seat at Kirby Muxloe in 1455.
William became good friends with King Edward IV, fighting alongside him at the battle of Towton in 1461. Knighted on the battlefield, he served as his Master of the Mint and Lord Chamberlain. His wife, Katherine Neville, reportedly received the jewel as a gift.
Katherine Neville was also from a powerful family. William and Katherine went on to have six children. They lived at the castle at Kirby Muxloe from 1480.
Following the death of Edward IV, Richard Duke of York (later Richard III) summoned Hastings to a council meeting in the tower of london. He accused William of treason. Immediately, Hastings was beheaded outside. Baroness Hastings lived at the castle until she died in 1504.
“The heart shaped jewel would only have been worn by the most powerful ladies of the day. It is remarkable to think that this may have been a gift to Katherine from William Hastings. A true sweetheart brooch which combines with the inscription on the interior to give the hidden message ‘(Keep) honour and joy in your heart’. An emotive motto during the turbulent times that were the Wars of the Roses. Contemporary French chronicler Philippe de Commines described Hastings as ‘a man of honour and prudence and of great authority with his master’. It is likely the brooch fell from Katherine whilst joyfully strolling the castle grounds or was it lost in more sombre circumstances in the years following his sudden demise?”
This wonderful jewel of medieval history goes under the hammer at Hansons Historica auction on 23rd August 2017.
The guide price is £6000 – £8000.
“We expect worldwide interest,” said Mr Hanson, “and it is unique. I truly hope a museum or private collector buys and falls in love with it.”