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Sotheby's to offer 15th century marriage ring unearthed with metal detector
Discovered near Launde Abbey – Home of Thomas Cromwell’s Son. Expected to fetch £20,000-30,000 at auction. On public exhibition in London prior to sale on 9 July. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- An English, late fifteenth-century love or marriage ring discovered in 2013 with a metal detector near Launde Abbey, an Elizabethan manor house once home to Thomas Cromwell’s son, will be offered for auction by Sotheby’s in London on 9 July 2015 in a sale of Old Master Sculpture & Works of Art. Estimated at £20,000-30,000, the ring is an early and exceptionally lavish example of its kind, on which the bond between husband and wife is symbolised by two different gems, a point-cut diamond and a rounded ruby. The engraved sprigs on the partially enamelled shoulders of the ring are typical of a goldsmith’s work in fifteenth-century England.

From the 12th century onwards, the site near Launde Abbey – situated in the valley of the river Chater in East Norton, Leicestershire – was occupied by a large and wealthy Augustinian Priory. Thomas Cromwell was so impressed by the building and the location that he presented it to himself after surveying it as part of the dissolution of the monasteries. His execution in 1540 prevented him from moving in. Instead his son Gregory and his wife Elizabeth Seymour, the sister of Henry VIII’s third wife Jane Seymour, took residence there.

Erik Bijzet, Sotheby’s Old Master Sculpture & Works of Art specialist, comments: “The movement of wealthy patrons around a major monastery, the violence with which the rich institution must have taken for the Crown, and the importance of the subsequent inhabitants are all reasons for a ring of this significance to have been deposited in its vicinity.”

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