1616359 Inkstand, NTI James Dobson

Viscount Castlereagh’s silver inkstand has been bought by the National Trust.

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The silver inkstand, which bears the Castlereagh’s coat of arms, was sold to the organisation by a dealer and is set to be exhibited in Mount Stewart, his family home in County Down as part of an exhibition to mark 200 years since his death.

From 1802-22, Castlereagh was at the centre of European affairs as Britain’s Foreign Secretary and chief negotiator in post-Napoleonic Europe. He also helped establish the nation’s peace with America and played an integral role at the Congress of Vienna.

Described as a highly personal piece, the inkstand is one of the few objects that travelled with him and sat on his desk at 12 Downing Street. The National Trust suggests that it would have been used in the composition of letters to foreign leaders such as Tsar Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon’s marshal Ney and to have been present when Castlereagh interviewed Nelson before his departure for the Battle of Trafalgar.

Christopher Warleigh-Lack, National Trust curator at Mount Stewart said: “It is not just a beautiful item in its own right – with its scroll feet and glass inkwell and sander with silver lids – but this inkstand was instrumental to seminal historic events, not least the shaping of post-Napoleonic Europe.”

The exhibition on Castlereagh’s life opens on Friday.