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4th Dec 2020
Mahogany daybed linked to Duleep Singh estimate 800 1000

A piece of furniture which was part of a historic negotiation in India which led to a Maharajah coming to live in Norfolk – and the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond being set in the Queen’s coronation crown – is to be auctioned in Norfolk next week.

The mahogany day bed, which will go under the hammer at Keys Auctioneers and Valuers in Aylsham on Wednesday 9th December, was the property of Sir Henry Miers Elliot, a diplomat who accompanied Lord Dalhousie to the Punjab to negotiate an end to the Sikh Wars with the then boy ruler Duleep Singh.

As part of the settlement, the famous diamond was handed to Queen Victoria, while Maharajah Duleep Singh came to live in the UK, famously settling at Elveden Hall near Thetford.  The last Sikh ruler of the kingdom of the Punjab, Singh surrendered his lands and possessions and was befriended by Queen Victoria after he came to Britain.

His second son, Prince Frederick, who lived at Blo Norton Hall, was the founder of the Ancient House Museum, and took a keen interest in local history amassing a fine collection of books, paintings, prints and archives.

“This piece of furniture is a fascinating part of the history of the Indian Raj with a strong connection to Norfolk,” said Tim Blyth, director at Keys Auctioneers.  “The bed passed down through various branches of the family, and has been in Norfolk for many years.

“The story of the boy ruler Duleep Singh surrendering his lands and possessions was a key moment in the development of India as England’s ‘Jewel in the Crown’, and the fact that the Koh-i-Noor diamond was part of that settlement just adds to the mystique.

“This is a piece which links Norfolk to a key moment in Britain’s imperial history.”

The mahogany military daybed, which dates from around 1840, will be auctioned on Wednesday 9th December as part of Keys’ Two Day Fine Sale, which takes place online at bid.keysauctions.co.uk.  It has a pre-sale estimate of £800-£1,000.