14 November 2022

When David Board, aged 69, took up metal detecting again in 2019, he could not have envisaged what he was going to find. Having tried detecting on local beaches in the 1970s and not finding much, it was a family friend who motivated him to try his luck again. Now armed with the latest detector, an XP Deus, David got permission to search near Thorncombe in Dorset by a local farmer, for whom David had formerly been a milk tanker driver for many years.

On his second outing on a pasture field, nearing the end of the day, and having found just a few old copper half pennies, David got a signal near a footpath. At a depth of 5 inches he saw what he thought was a sweet wrapper, then looking more closely he realised it was a ring and put it in his top pocket. What a find this proved to be: this ring, now known as
The Lady Brook Medieval diamond ring, will be offered by Mayfair Auctioneers Noonans on Tuesday, November 29, 2022 in their auction of Jewellery and Watches. It is estimated to fetch £30,000-40,000.

The Finds Liaison Officer Lucy Shipley took the ring to the British Museum and confirmed that it was Medieval in date and a very rare example. David is hoping to use his share of the money to help his partner’s daughter arrange a mortgage.

Nigel Mills, Consultant (Coins and Antiquities) at Noonans explains: “This ring is in almost perfect condition and has an inverted diamond set into the raised bezel so that it comes to a point. The hoop is composed of two neatly entwined bands symbolising the union of the couple. Inside the band is an inscription in French ‘ieo vos tien foi tenes le moy’ (translating as I hold your faith, hold mine)”.

The location of the find in Dorset was acquired by Henry de Broc (or de la Brook) from Reginald de Mohun (1206–1258), Feudal baron of Dunster in Somerset, who had inherited this land from his first wife Hawise Fleming, daughter and heiress of William Fleming. It then passed by descent through the
Brook family, coming into the possession of the wealthy landowner Sir Thomas Brook (c.1355-1418). Due to the exceptionally fine quality of this ring, it was, quite possibly, the wedding ring given by Sir Thomas Brook to his wife Lady Joan Brook for their marriage in 1388 – see full biography of the family at the bottom of the release.

Another interesting find will be offered by Noonans on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 in their sale of Coins, Historical Medals and Antiquities. It was a bright Sunday morning in August 2006 when Andrew Phillips was out detecting with his North Herts charity group on a scarified field near the Icknield way, an ancient trackway that leads from Wiltshire to Norfolk. Using his Minelab Sovereign, he got a signal and just below the surface of the soil and found a seal. At first, he thought it was bronze but after taking it to the Hitchin Museum, he was told it was silver. Being 22mm in diameter, the face of the seal has a deeply engraved design depicting a crowned lion rampant facing left within a shield. This is the arms of the Turbeville family and the inscription reads ‘SECRETUM ALICIE DE T’ (translating as ‘the secret seal of Alice Turbeville’ ). Alice Turbeville was born in Cornwall in 1302, the daughter of Payn de Turbeville, the Sheriff of Glamorgan. She married John de la Bere and had five children. Seal matrices in silver are rare, even more so when they can be traced to an individual.
Andrew, now aged 69, worked for DEFRA at the time he found the seal. It was disclaimed under the Treasure Act and returned to him. In 1992 he had started his metal detecting group with the aim of raising money for charity by donating one third of the proceeds to the charity, one third to the landowner and the final third to the finder. Over the years the group has raised nearly £100,000 for the local hospice and a care home. The silver seal is estimated to sell for £3,000-4,000 at Noonans.

HISTORICAL NOTES TO EDITORS: By the late 14th century, the Manor was in the possession of 
Sir Thomas Brook (c.1355-1418), who also owned La Brooke in the parish of Ilchester, who was the largest landowner in Somerset, and served 13 times as a Member of Parliament for Somerset (between 1386 and 1413). Sir Thomas was the first prominent member of his family, largely due to the great wealth he acquired from his marriage in 1388 to the wealthy widow Joan Hanham (d. 1437). Joan was the second daughter and co-heiress of Simon Hanham of Gloucestershire, and the widow of the Bristol cloth merchant Robert Cheddar (d. 1384), MP and twice Mayor of Bristol, whose wealth comprised 17 manors, five advowsons and very extensive properties throughout Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Gloucestershire, together with 21 shops, four cellars and 160 tenements in Bristol. Her son Richard Cheddar, MP, signed over his large inheritance to his mother and stepfather, Sir Thomas Brook, for the duration of their lives, due to the latter having ‘many times endured great travail and cost’  in defending them during his minority.

The Brooks were granted a licence to crenelate the Manor in 1396 and create a park of 200 acres of pasture and wood. They resided there until they acquired the manor of Weycroft in the parish of Axminster, Devon, in around 1395, thereafter they split their time between the two residences. In May 1415, an ailing Sir Thomas Brook signed his will at the Manor, although he did not die until January 1418. His wife died 19 years later in 1437, and the couple were buried together in Thorncombe, the local parish church, under an elaborate ledger stone and monumental brass, considered to be one of the finest of its kind in the country. Unusually, although Sir Thomas was a knight, both he and his wife are depicted wearing fine civilian clothes and the Lancastrian Collar of Ss.

The current Church of St Mary the Virgin at Thorncombe was built in 1887, about 50 yards south of the site of the former church (built at the same time as nearby Forde Abbey, in the late 12th / early 13th centuries by Cistercian monks) but the Brook effigies were preserved and inserted in another ledger-stone and placed in a relative position therein on a low tomb.

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