Mechanic with metal detector finds ‘original crown jewel’ from Henry VIII and more in field
A mechanic with a metal detector believes he has found a fragment of the crown that once belonged to the 16th century Tudor kings and queens.
The tiny gold and enamel figure was found in a field near Market Harborough by Kevin Duckett, 49, who lives in Fleckney and restores classic cars for a living.
His suspicion is that the tiny ornament is a 16th century miniature statue of Henry VI that was last seen at the coronation of Charles I when it adorned the coronation crown.
It is believed it was also on the crowns worn at the coronations of Henry VIII, his children Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, and later for James I and then Charles I.
Kevin thinks the item was with Charles I at the 1645 Battle of Naseby and was lost when the king’s entourage fled towards Market Harborough during their defeat in the Civil War.
What makes the tiny item – measuring just over three centimetes in height – more important is that after the defeat of Charles I, the crown jewels were all melted down, with only a few stones surviving.
He said: “The battle was spread between Naseby and Market Harborough and all the way to Rockingham – there were skirmishes all around that area and troops fled into Market Harborough and Welham, where lots of the retreating soldiers were massacred as they tried to cross the River Welland.
“We also know Charles I stayed at Market Harborough the night before the battle.
“They field where I found the figure was at Great Oxendon, which was on the route between Naseby and Market Harborough.
“His baggage was looted after the Battle of Naseby and this could have been lost that day.
“I believe this could have been owned by Charles I. I am a bit of an amateur historian but this has been very difficult to research.”
When he first spotted the item in the mud during this treasure hunt he thought it was just a bit of foil but later realised it was gold.
He then learned about a replica of the crown of Charles I that had a surprisingly similar figure and he went to Hampton Court in London, where the crown is on display and had a closer look, which further convinced him.
His story has caught the attention of Leanda de Lisle, an expert on the Tudors, who last month appeared on celebrity historian Dan Snow’s podcast, History Hit.
She said on the podcast: “I was very intrigued to hear about this. [Kevin] sent me an image of this exquisite gold figure of a king and it’s clear from the image that it is in fact a figure of Henry VI.
“This is very rare, very expensive.
“Could Charles even have been wearing it when it fell? It’s a very intriguing thought.”
The item, which Kevin found in 2017, is being studied and going through the treasure trove process and is set to end up in the British Museum in London. If it is genuine, it could mean a huge payout for Kevin and the landowner.
Kevin said: “Whatever happens, it’s right that it ends up in a museum. The treasure trove process can take a long time but I don’t think it should be such a long wait for people to hear this story.”