Hancocks London has announced that the Victorian-era Spencer Churchill necklace will be available on the open market for the first time in its history.
The necklace, commissioned by John Spencer-Churchill for his wife Frances around 1875, has remained in one family since its creation, but Mayfair’s oldest family jeweler will now handle the sale.
A highly unusual design, the intricate collar necklace consists of eight 18k gold plates in a decorative openwork pattern with stylized floral and vine motifs connecting eight oval medallions.
Commenting on the sale of the necklace, Hancocks London Managing Director Guy Burton said: “From a sentimental gift to a historical jewel, this is the story of a family chain and the famous people it binds.
“It is an absolutely unique piece of jewelry, both in its design and concept, and in the family history and social connections of those who bear its name.
“The Spencer-Churchills were at the center of British society and politics for two centuries, and this play and the names that bear it reflect their status and influence in a way that few other family dynasties can match.
“Their fascinating provenance deserves to be studied by historians as well as jewellers.
“We feel very privileged to bring this piece to the open market and, given its provenance, expect tremendous interest.”
Seven of the couple’s 11 children are immortalized in this necklace, with their initials in glazed enamel on the front of each locket, surrounded by a wreath of flowers and white bows.
The back of the medallions are hand-engraved with the names and dates of birth of each of these children.
The eighth medallion features a ducal crown set with tiny gems.
The seven engraved medallions commemorate:
Right: Lord Randolph Henry Spencer-Churchill (1849-1895)
Gifted Tory politician and Chancellor under the Marquess of Salisbury who married America’s dollar princess Jenny Jeromeand whose eldest son was Mr Winston Churchill.
FO: Lady Fanny Octavia Louisa (1853-1904)
Later Baroness Tweedmouth.
CH: Lady Cornelia Henrietta Maria Spencer-Churchill (1847-1927)
Later Baroness Wimborne.
GC: Lord George Charles Spencer-Churchill (1844-1892)
Later 8thth Duke of Marlboroughmarried his son Charles Consuelo Vanderbilt of the US shipping and railroad dynasty of the American Gilded Age.
RJ: Lady Rosamund Jane Frances Spencer-Churchill (1851-1920)
Later Baroness de Ramseywhose son married the Singer sewing machine heiress Daisy Fellowes.
AE: Lady Anne Emily Spencer-Churchill (1854-1923)
Later Duchess of Roxburghe.
SI: Lady Sarah Isabella Augusta Spencer-Churchill (1865-1929)
The couple had 11 children, three of whom died in infancy. Hancock’s London looks to the historical archives to find out why the couple’s fifth daughter, Lady Georgiana Elizabeth Spencer-Churchill, was either not included in the necklace or removed at a later date.
The Spencer Churchill Necklace connects some of the 19thth and 20th Century notable personalities, among them Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington and Winston Churchill.
Frances was a childhood friend of Queen Victoria, goddaughter of the Duke of Wellington and grandmother of Winston Churchill.
His influence stretches across the Atlantic to the wealthy US Vanderbilt family, the Singer sewing machine company and even the late Princess Diana.
John Spencer-Churchill was 7thth Duke of Marlborough and Frances – the daughter of the 3rdapprox Marquess and Marchioness of Londonderry – was Chatelaine of the family seat at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
She grew up in luxury, the second of six children, and married into the Spencer-Churchill family in 1843.
Fourteen years later, John succeeded his father with the title Duke of Marlborough, then he and Frances took over the reins of Blenheim.
Burton added: “When you read the list of the great and the good linked by this single gem, it really is quite incredible to see the extent of the influence of a single generation at home in Britain and in America.
“As the Spencer-Churchill family is related to the Spencer family of Althorp, the necklace also links the late Princess Diana of Wales and our future King, Prince William, both families descended from John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough.
“It is a wonderful collector’s item and one can imagine seeing it in a museum because of its historical significance.
“This is truly a one-off piece that must be acquired.”
The Spencer Churchill necklace is being offered for £125,000.