A 15th century marriage ring unearthed with a metal detector comes up at Sotheby’s sale of Old Master Sculpture and Works on Art in London on July 9. It was discovered in 2013 near Launde Abbey, an Elizabethan manor house once home to Thomas Cromwell’s son and is estimated at £20,000-30,000. The ring is an exceptionally lavish example of its kind, on which the bond between husband and wife is symbolised by two different gems, a point-cut diamond and a rounded ruby. The engraved sprigs on the partially enamelled shoulders of the ring are typical of a goldsmith’s work in fifteenth-century England.
From the 12th century onwards, the site near Launde Abbey – situated in the valley of the river Chater in East Norton, Leicestershire – was occupied by a large and wealthy Augustinian Priory. Thomas Cromwell was so impressed by the building and the location that he presented it to himself after surveying it as part of the dissolution of the monasteries. His execution in 1540 prevented him from moving in. Instead his son Gregory and his wife Elizabeth Seymour, the sister of Henry VIII’s third wife Jane Seymour, took residence there.