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Early-Victorian bracelet comprising eight portrait miniatures and four unusual eye miniatures set in gold, with Nottidge family scandal connection – sold for £16,000 at Woolley & Wallis.

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The Nottidge offspring had grown up in privilege in Wixoe, Suffolk, the children of wealthy wool clothiers who worked fulling mills in Essex and Suffolk.

However, on their father’s death in 1844, five unmarried daughters were persuaded by the local ‘fire and brimstone’ clergyman Henry Prince to invest their inheritance (£6000 each) in the founding of a new religious community in Somerset known as the Agapemone. The daughters then married into the cult.

Rescue attempt

The attempt by Emily to affect a rescue and bring her youngest daughter Louisa back to London became the stuff of newspaper reports and the inspiration for Wilkie Collins’ novel The Woman in White.

The Times reported almost daily on the case in 1848 after Louisa escaped from incarceration in the Moorcroft House Asylum in Hillingdon and met her family in court. She would later return to Somerset and remained with the Agapemone until she died in 1858.

Emily passed away in 1863 at the age of 90. The fate of her bracelet since that time is uncertain, but the current owner purchased it in London 10 years ago. It was a museum/ collector’s object rather than an overtly commercial piece of jewellery.

Offered with an estimate of £8000-12,000 as part of the Fine Jewellery sale at Woolley & Wallis, it took £16,000.