Historic Waterton rings return to Wakefield for first time in 144 years

​Date: 10/12/2015

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A stunning collection of rings is coming back to the district for the first time in 144 years thanks to a new link between Wakefield Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London.

Wakefield Museum is hosting Precious an exhibition from December 12 - June 25,  showcasing 40 rings collected by Edmund Waterton, son of the famous Victorian naturalist and adventurer Charles Waterton.

The rings, normally part of the permanent collection at the V&A, are of national and internationally significance because they are rare and varied.

The exhibition is part of a series of events celebrating the legacy of Wakefield naturalist Charles Waterton in the 150th year of his death.

Cllr Les Shaw, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, at Wakefield Council, said: “To have some of these rings coming home to Wakefield is a huge privilege for the district.

“We are very pleased to have these historic and beautiful items on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum, and hope this will be the first of many more link ups with them in the future.”

The rings in the Precious exhibition are themed on love tokens, Christian devotion, signet rings which show status, rings that demonstrate making skills, magic rings containing wolves’ teeth and toadstones.

The rings include a 15th century ring worn by couriers carrying messages for the Pope, a death ring produced as a souvenir after the execution of Charles I, a 16th century ring made from wolves’ teeth; and the earliest surviving 15th century mourning ring.

The rings are part of a collection of over 800 rings collected by Edmund over his lifetime.

The rings were pawned to a jeweller by Edmund in 1871 to pay off his debts. The jeweller subsequently sold them at auction and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) acquired 760.

The exhibition is made possible thanks to the support of the Arts Council.