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Spencer - Churchill Silver Gilt R & S Garrard of London Vanity Box


Spencer - Churchill Silver Gilt R & S Garrard of London Vanity Box

The box was commissioned in 1844 for Sir Winston
Churchill's great-grandmother, Jane, Duchess of
Marlborough. It was made and stamped by R & S Garrard of London and
is a piece of superb craftsmanship.

It is beautifully veneered in Rosewood, is brass-bound with flush carrying
side-handles and lined with a stunning red velvet. The Spencer-Churchill
coat of arms is inlaid on the top of the box, together with the motto Fiel
Pero Desdichado. (which, translated from Spanish, means Faithful but
Unfortunate, a motto of the Churchill family). It features 4 silver-gilt
mounted glass decanters, a jar and a total of 8 solid silver gilt boxes of
various shapes, the covers of which are engraved with
Spencer-Churchill coat of arms beneath the Duke's
coronet. The box is fitted with two Bramah locks which are
stamped as such.

The bottom drawer contains various Ivory brushes and
mirrors, together with a pair of gilt candlesticks. The box also contains
silver-gilt spoons
and various steel, brass and mother-of-pearl mounted sewing,
manicure and writing implements. One of the implements is a stunning letter
opener which has a purple glass handle with delicate gilt fretwork. The
blade is engraved with a very pretty floral design. The glass handle would
originally have had some gilded decoration which has worn away. This shows
that it once had regular use, possibly by Edward George Spencer Churchill
who was at one time an owner of the box and was a cousin of Sir Winston
Churchill. He was in regular correspondence with Sir Winston during his
career as Prime Minister, so perhaps the opener was used to open some of Sir
Winston's letters! It is presumed that many of the sewing and manicure
have had very little or no use at all, as the Duchess tragically
died in October 1844, very shortly after the box was

Jane, Duchess of Marlborough was born in 1798 and was daughter of George,
8th Earl of Galloway. She was the first wife of George
Spencer-Churchill, 6th Duke of Marlborough.They married in 1819 and lived
at Blenheim Palace. George was MP
for the Conservative Party. He died in 1857. Although being
6th Duke of Marlborough for 17 years and Sir Winston
Churchill's great-grandfather, little else is known
about him as before his death he mysteriously ordered that his personal
documents be destroyed.

On the Duke's death the box was handed down to his 5th
son (by his 3rd marriage to Jane Francis Clinton Stewart),
Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill, who was born in 1853. He
married Augusta Warburton in 1874 and died in 1911.

The box was subsequently left to Lord Edward's first
son, Edward George Spencer-Churchill. He was born in 1876
and served as Captain in the Grenadier Guards. He was a
first cousin of Sir Winston Churchill and, as mentioned earlier, was in
regular correspondence with him during his career as Prime Minister.

Although Sir Winston Churchill's legal surname was
Spencer-Churchill, he used solely the name of Churchill in
public life, taking after his father, Lord Randolph Churchill.

Sir Winston Churchill shares his ancestry with Princess
Diana (formerly Lady Diana Spencer), of whom both families
are connected through marriage, descending from the 1st Duke
of Marlborough, John Churchill.

The 1st Duke of Marlborough lost his son and heir to
smallpox so an act of Parliament was passed to allow his
title to be handed down to his eldest daughter, Henrietta
Churchill, upon his death. Henrietta subsequently became
Duchess of Marlborough when the Duke died in 1722. Henrietta
also died without a male heir so the title was passed to her
younger sister, Anne Churchill, who had married Charles
Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland. When Anne died, the title
went to her son, also Charles Spencer, who became the 3rd
Duke in 1733.

This meant the end of succession of the Churchill name.
However, it was re-introduced into the family in 1817, by
the 5th Duke of Marlborough, George Spencer. He wished to
bear the name of his famous ancestor the 1st Duke, so
applied, by royal licence, to add Churchill to his surname,
becoming George Spencer-Churchill. The double-barrelled name
has remained in the family to this day.

Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough, had a younger
brother John, whose son, also John, became the 1st Earl of
Spencer in 1765. Therefore Diana Spencer, the Princess of
Wales, was a descendent of the 1st Duke of Marlborough and a
distant relative of Sir Winston Churchill.

The makers of the box, R&S Garrard & Co, were the Crown Jewellers and
responsible for the upkeep of the Crown Jewels between 1843 and 2007. They
also made dining and tableware, many pieces of which are in the Royal
Collection. Garrard merged with the well-known Jewellers Asprey in 1998 to
become Asprey & Garrard. Jade Jagger became Creative Director for the
company in 1996. Garrard also currently make trophies for many sporting
events including, amongst others, the Dubai World Cup, the Americas Cup and
the Premier League Trophy.
Blenheim Palace
Material Silver Gilt Vanity Box by Garrards, The box was commissioned in 1844 for Sir Winston Churchill's great-grandmother, Jane, Duchess of Marlborough.
Age C. 1844