A silver-gilt coronet, R. & S. Garrard, 1838

Designed by the 1st Duke of Wellington. Conceived as a full circlet supporting ten stylised cross pattée motifs, the inside engraved 'THIS CROWN WAS PRESENTED BY ARTHUR DUKE OF WELLINGTON TO THE HONBLE M.A. JERVIS, DESIGNED BY HIM AND EXECUTED BY MESSRS GARRARD. AUGUST 16TH 1838.' The straight band with a row of chased silver faceted beads between rope twist borders applied to the front with an old-cut diamond-set initial W surmounted by a coronet embellished with rose-cut diamonds, the band supporting a circle of ten stylised cross pattée motifs each centred with an octagonal faceted silver bead and decorated with scroll motifs and the initial W, with a cream satin lining edged with green velvet, inner circumference approximately 455mm.

Price available on request


Catalogue Note

The present tiara was designed especially by the 1st Duke of Wellington for the Honourable Lady Mary Anne Jervis.

Owing to his historic defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo (1815), Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington became a national hero. Subsequent to his victory in the battlefield, the Duke also saw victory in the political sphere, serving as Prime Minister first from 1828 to 1830 and a second time (albeit a briefer term) in 1834.

The daughter of Edward Jervis Jervis, the 2nd Viscount St Vincent, Mary Anne was renowned for her beauty and extraordinary musical talents. Her singing voice earned her not only the nickname ‘the Syren’ but also the affection of the Duke of Wellington.

Left: Thomas Lawrence, Sir Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, circa 1815-1816

Right: John Scott after James Godsell Middleton, Mary Anne Jervis, Lady Forester, circa 1803–1893, Shugborough Hall (photo credit: Staffordshire Archives & Heritage).

The Duke had a renowned love of music and became enraptured by Mary Anne after hearing her perform Rossini’s Cenerentola. He wrote to his friend the Marchioness of Salisbury: ‘I am going to give her a crown for singing the Cenerentola; mind – not a coronet! Louis Philippe gave her a crown for being the best dancer in the school at Paris; I give her one for singing a trio single-handed.’

The Duke followed through on this declaration, commissioning the present coronet from the celebrated London silversmiths R. & S. Garrard to execute his own design. The coronet is recorded in Garrard’s archives, dated 4th August 1838: ‘A chased silver-gilt crown, lined white satin’ with a fitted case.

Given their closeness, rumours began to spread throughout London that the Duke and Syren were in fact betrothed. Upon hearing this, the Duke was reportedly ‘beside himself with laughter’. Dispelling the myths once and for all, and to the delight of her good friend the Duke, Mary Anne announced her engagement to David Ochterlony Dyce Sombre two years later. In 1851, Dyce Sombre passed away and Jervis married the Right Honourable George Weld-Forester, later the 3rd Baron Forester and thus rendering Mary Anne Lady Forester. She and the Duke maintained their friendship and correspondence until the Duke’s death in 1852.