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She was heading for the river Ouse, a short walk across the water meadows. Three weeks later, on April 18, her drowned body was discovered downriver by a group of picnicking children, the pockets of her fur coat filled with rocks, the verdict at the coroners court, suicide.

Leonard Woolf had been looking for his wife on the afternoon of her disappearance, accompanied by the estate gardener, but they only found the walking stick lying on the bank of the river.

Together with the earthenware tile given to Virginia as a Christmas present by her sister Vanessa Bell, this memento mori had been kept by Louie Mayer, cook-general at Monk’s House (the Woolf residence) for 34 years. Consigned by Mrs Mayer’s widowed husband to Gorringes auction house in Lewes for sale on March 12, the famous writer’s walking stick fell to an American bidder at £2700 and the tin-glazed tile sold to an English collector at £3500. (Both prices plus 15 per cent buyer’s premium and VAT).