Lady Brook Ring

A late 14th century gold diamond set love ring believed to have belonged to Lady Brook.

The find

The ring was found by David Broad in 2019. He had done some detecting on beaches in the 70’s but gave up the hobby after not having much success. In 2019, he was persuaded by a family friend to try his luck again. David had been a milk taker driver for a local famer and was given permission to search one of his fields neat Thorncombe in Dorset. He was out on only his second outing when he found the ring. As seems a familiar story, it was nearing the end of the day and David had only found a few old copper coins.

david broad with detector
David Broad. Photo: Noonans

David continues the story:

“I was detecting on a field, it was called Bowling Green, I thought it was quite odd because it was flat, there must have been quite a lot of activity there. I was searching there and found a few old coins, a lot of silver paper, the kind from sweet wrappers. And I was walking back to the car when I got a signal, dug the hole, saw a bit of gold and I thought oh, not another bit of wrapping paper, and then found the ring. It was a really wet day so I washed the mud off and put it in my pocket

Patrick Tolley, 64, the dairy farmer who owns the land where David found the ring, said: “He came over all excited. I couldn’t believe how shiny it was. The fields have been ploughed and cultivated dozens of times over the years, it’s a surprise it has not been damaged at all.”

PAS

The ring was recorded at the PAS as DEV-D1B964. It was subsequently disclaimed as Treasure.

Lady Brook ring

The ring is inscribed on the inside in Medieval French with ieo vos * tien * foi * tenes * le moy” which translates as  ‘As I hold your faith, hold mine’. The find site was part of the estate of the Brook family since Henry de Broc acquired it in the first half of the thirteenth century. By the late 14th century, the Manor was in the possession of Sir Thomas Brook. He was an MP and had acquired considerable wealth, largely due to his marriage to the wealthy widow Joan Hanham in 1388.

The ring was found on an old bowling green and Noonans consultant Nigel Mills said that Lady Brook could have lost it while playing an early form of croquet there: “It’s very likely that she was playing an ancestral game of croquet, jeu de mail, that was brought over by the French. That may have been how she lost it.

Auction

David and Patrick will split the proceeds from the auction. The pair watched the auction while sat in their local pub the Lamb Inn in Axminster, Devon.

After the auction David said “I am amazed it sold for so much. I’m well happy. I usually drink a pint of mild but may have to upgrade to Champagne now! ‘I’m a bit of a pessimist and didn’t think it would sell but am really pleased that it did. My partner’s daughter is buying a house and needs a loft conversion so I will probably put some of the money towards that.

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