Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sir Walter Scott's stolen Waterloo souvenir returned

A stolen souvenir from the Battle of Waterloo has been returned to the Borders home of Sir Walter Scott.

The silver bowl, known as a quaich, was taken from Abbotsford House near Melrose in 1994.

However, it was spotted late last year in a French antiques market by silver expert Wynyard Wilkinson who identified it and arranged for its return.

The Waterloo Tree Quaich, one of many historic relics collected by Scott, will go on public display this weekend.

The piece is made from silver gilt and elm wood that was cut from a tree at the Waterloo battlefield. Scott collected a fascinating array of objects during his lifetime
Jacquie Wright
Abbotsford Trust

The Duke of Wellington directed his troops from a position under the tree in 1815 and it subsequently became a target for souvenir hunters.

The timbers were used to make a number of prestigious pieces including Chippendale chairs for the Prince Regent in 1821, and a chair for the Duke of Wellington, which was presented to him in 1837.

The quaich dates from 1824 and was made by Joseph Angell of London.

It is engraved with Scott's motto, "Watch Well".

'Hugely grateful'

The quaich was one of a number of items stolen from Abbotsford when it was owned by his descendants, Dame Jean and Mrs Patricia Maxwell Scott.

Jacquie Wright, executive manager of the Abbotsford Trust, said it was "hugely grateful" to Mr Winyard for spotting and returning it.

"Scott collected a fascinating array of objects during his lifetime and we're delighted that the Waterloo Tree Quaich is back in the collection and can be seen and enjoyed by our visitors," she said.

The trust is currently trying to raise about £10m to secure the future of Scott's Borders home.

It is awaiting a decision from the Heritage Lottery Fund about a grant application for more than £4m and is also consulting with the public about its proposed plans for the attraction.

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