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5th Jun 2023
Queen Victoria letter estimate 400 500 sm

A handwritten three-page letter from Queen Victoria offering condolences to the daughter of the Lord Bishop of Peterborough is set to go under the hammer next week in Norfolk.

The letter was addressed to Mrs Pratt, whose father Bishop George Davys died in 1864, and was written at Queen Victoria’s favourite residence, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.  Bishop Davys (1780-1864) was Queen Victoria’s tutor from 1827 until she took the throne in 1837.

In the letter, the Queen gives a hint of her own grief (her husband Prince Albert had died less than three years previously), writing, ‘I feel more and more sadly lonely in the midst of my great desolation’.  The writing paper used has a thick black border, indicating that Victoria was still in mourning.

It will be sold at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers in Aylsham, Norfolk, as part of their two day Books & Ephemera Sale on Thursday 15th and Friday 16th June.  It is expected to make between £400 and £500.

“Queen Victoria was a prolific letter writer, but nevertheless personal correspondence like this is very much sought after by collectors,” said Andrew Lindsay-Bullock, head of books at Keys.

“This is a very personal letter in which the Queen opens her heart about her own grief.”

The letter will be auctioned on the second day of the sale (Friday 16th June).  Full details are available at www.keysauctions.co.uk.


Full transcript of the letter

Osborne, April 20 1864

Dear Mrs Pratt

You will easily believe with what deep concern I learnt that your dear reverend father, my kind and good master for 10 merry years, had quitted this horrible and sad uncertain world to join your dear mother in one of eternal bliss.

I had hoped to see him once again and trusted this might have been when he came up to London, but it was not to be.  His memory will ever be gratefully cherished by me, with many clear recollections of my childhood.

Alas!  All those who knew him then are going fast.  I feel more and more sadly lonely in the midst of my desolation!

Most truly do I feel for you and your brothers and sisters that irreparable loss you have sustained.  I ask you to afford my sympathy to them. 

My Uncle King Leopold wishes to convey the same in his name.  I know how pierced he was at your dear father’s loss.

I should be grateful if you could send me a portrait or photograph, or indeed both, of the dear Bishop, they would be of great value to me.

Ever yours sincerely, Victoria R