Two of her royal fir tree adornments, a small doll inside a woven crib and a wax doll, unfortunately missing one leg, are set to go under the hammer at Hansons on December 7 with a guide price of £1,000-£1,500. Apart from the missing limb they are in good condition considering they’re more than 100 years old, according to Hansons.
They currently belong to art and royal historian Daniel Hadden, who lives near Wivelsfield Green, Sussex. He has enjoyed using the decorations on his own Christmas tree but has decided the time has come to part with them.
He said: “I love Christmas, especially early Christmas decorations, the older the better. I am interested in royal history and have handled quite a few important royal artefacts over the years. I enjoy doing the research to uncover the story behind the objects.
“These decorations were obtained by Miss Elsie H Young (1884-1959), second cousin of Isabella Whichcote. Isabella was the daughter of Sir Thomas Whichcote, 7th Baronet. Isabella had a grace and favour apartment in Hampton Court and invited Miss Young to a Christmas banquet.
“During the festive celebrations she was given the decorations. It has been noted by the Royal Collection Trust that Queen Victoria often gifted items from her Christmas tree to guests. Miss Young treasured them all her life. She thought them so importation she left them to her servant, Rosie Ellison.
“I bought the decorations from the Rosie’s descendants. She was born in 1902 and worked in service for Miss Young. She died in 1959 so that’s probably when Rosie inherited them. They were subsequently passed down through the generations.
“My research took me to Miss Young’s former home, Skinners at Wivelsfield Green, an impressive large timber framed grade II listed house. I even went to St Peter and St John the Baptist Church in Wivelsfield to look for Miss Young’s grave but only found her sister’s.
“I imagine Miss Young would have been an awestruck teenager when she was given Queen Victoria’s Christmas tree decorations in the late 1800s. She was fortunate enough to move in royal circles and would have been 16 in 1900. By that time Queen Victoria was close to the end of her life. She passed away at the age of 81 in 1901 after a 63-year reign.
“With Christmas fast approaching I decided it was time to let someone else enjoy these royal festive mementos. Someone else can have the pleasure of owning something that belonged to one of Britain’s most famous monarchs, and use them to decorate their tree.”
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “For any Christmas traditionalist and royalist, this has to be the ultimate festive bauble. Very few people in the world can say they have Queen Victoria’s decorations hanging from their Christmas tree.
“These items are historically important. As well as being early festive decorations they remind us that Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert helped to make Christmas what it is today. They popularised the use of decorated fir trees in the mid to late 19th century. They paved the way to the festive traditions we enjoy. Christmas trees, and their decorations, are a magical part of festive celebrations.”