The Jewel House in the first half of the 18th century, under the Master of the Jewel House, was the place of safe keeping for the crown jewels, including the regalia used at the coronation and the royal plate. It also provided silver for use in the royal palaces and issued plate, either as gifts in the case of christening cups and race cups or as "indenture plate", to ambassadors and officers of state. The Indenture plate was intended to be returned on demand, usually at the end of the tenure of the office or role. In study of the Jewel House records made by James Lomax published in The Silver Society Journal 'Royalty and Silver: The Role of the Jewel House in the Eighteenth Century', vol. 11, 1999, pp. 133-139, Lomax estimated that the Jewel House cost between £4,000 and £8,000 per annum to run. The meticulous ledgers kept by the Jewel House staff enable such a study and record the individual grants of plate and their cost. The five officers of the Jewel House, the master, two yeoman, a clerk and the groom kept these detailed accounts of the issuing of plate to members and employees of the Royal Household. They also supervised the repairs and cleaning of the existing plate. The Master of the Jewel House when Speaker Hanmer and Baron Bingley were issued with their plate (see lots 48 and 49) was the Hon. James Brudenell (d.1746). Lomax notes that Brudenell was related to the great francophile John, 2nd Duke of Montagu (d.1749) through his nephew and that it was perhaps this connection that accounts for the very French taste of mush of the Jewel House's output. Moreover many of the goldsmiths employed by the Jewel House, such as Lewis Mettayer, the maker of lots 48 and 49, were Huguenots.
As mentioned above much of the records of the Jewel House relate to the mundane use of plate in the Royal households, the jugs and bowls issued to the milkwoman, the cutlery and plates issued to the pantry. There are also the rarer entries for silver trumpets for the King's trumpeters, badges for the King's waterman, and numerous circular seal boxes to encase the 'Broad seal' or Great Seal attached to documents of State. There are also records for inkstands for clerks and royal christening presents to the King's godchildren, as discussed in lot 51. However, the longest entries and therefore not surprisingly the most costly expenses were the grants of 'Indenture Plate' to senior civil servants, the officers of state and the King's ambassadors. The normal allowance of plate was 1,000 ounces, however Speakers, such as Speaker Hanmer, (lot 48) were entitled to 5,000 ounces and ambassadors, such and Lord Bingley and Horace Walpole (lot 49) received the largest grant of 5,893 ounces of white plate and 1,066 ounces of gilt plate, plate meaning wrought silver or silver vessels. These grants or warrants were recorded in a series of Warrant Books.
Even though the grants of 'Indenture Plate' were intended to be returned once the tenure of office of the official had come to an end or once the embassy was completed, in practice this was rarely the case. By the early 18th century the expectation was that the official or ambassador would be awarded the plate in recognition of their work. In some instances the plate was purposely withheld to highlight a disagreement with the crown - long and costly litigation could ensue. If the plate was to be given to the holder and the requirement to return the plate to the Jewel House cancelled it would be discharged by order of the Privy Seal and recorded in the same series of warrant books. The discharge relating to Speaker Hanmer's plate reads in part "We are graciously pleased in Consideration of the good and acceptable Service performed unto us by the said Sr Thomas Hanmer to bestow on him the said plate and to discharge him from the same." It is interesting that lot 49, the pair of wine coolers or ice pails were returned to the Jewel House and were reissued to a subsequent ambassador. They were original granted to Lord Bingley for his embassy to Spain in 1713 but he never left England. He returned 4,718 ounces of white plate and 704 ounces of gilt plate on the 2 November 1716 from the original grant of 5,625 ounces of white plate and 1,289 ounces of gilt plate. The silver and silver-gilt which he had retained were discharged by order of the Privy Seal on 12 July 1726. A magnificent pair of silver-gilt cups, covers and stands, also from the Bingley ambassadorial grant of plate, were similarly returned and remained in the Jewel House until 1837 when they were removed together with considerable quantities of Royal plate by the Duke of Cumberland on his accession to the throne of Hanover. There were sold by the Hanoverian royal family in 1923 and are now in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
PROPERTY FROM COWDRAY PARK SOLD ON THE INSTRUCTION OF THE VISCOUNT COWDRAY AND HIS TRUSTEES