Height 13 ½ inches Width 8.5 inches Diameter 6.35 inches Weight 45 oz troy.
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An impressive silver gilt Lyme Regis & Charmouth Regatta Cup for 1846 presented by John Attwood M.P. made by Hunt and Roskell, in the form of a classical footed urn with paired handles and a domed lid surmounted by a dolphin, engraved throughout with collars of stippled waves and two central C-scroll cartouches, one stating ‘The Gift of I Attwood Esq.r MP to the Lyme Regis & Charmouth Regatta 18 August 1846’, fully assayed. English, 1846.
The Lyme Regis Regatta is believed to have been established around 1825 and continued uninterrupted every August until 1889, being re-established in 1898. The Lyme Regis Regatta generally is discussed in Ebb and Flow: The Story Of Maritime Lyme Regis by Peter Lacey.
It is evident that in Victorian Lyme Regatta Day was the high point of the season for both inhabitants and visitors. Traditionally held in August, Lyme Regis Annual Regatta Day started around 1825; its forerunner in 1810 being a boat race held once a year. Yacht races were the main feature of these early regattas and in 1847 there were three such races with silver cups to the value of £100 being presented to the gentlemen winners, races for trawl boats and rowing matches included. Competitors competed for generous prize money and sponsorship of regattas was viewed as a civic obligation, contributions coming from gentlemen and principal tradesmen of the town. In 1889 the regatta was discontinued, but resurrected in 1898 and incorporated an extensive schedule of sailing and rowing races. Lyme ketches competed for the Earl De La Warr’s silver cup and £10 of shared prize money and The Dorset Challenge Cup race involved open sail boats. Both races stipulated ‘The cup to be won two years by the same boat before becoming the property of the winner‘. Lyme and Charmouth were pitted against each other in sailing and rowing events. From ‘Ebb and Flow The Story Of Maritime Lyme Regis’ by Peter Lace.
The 1846 Regatta
A newspaper report from the 1st of August 1846 in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette previewed the event, scheduled for the 18th of August. It stated that “A silver cup, value 35 Guineas, presented by John Attwood Esq., M.P., for yachts not exceeding 35 tons. Old Admeasurement”. In actual fact the weather on the 18th was poor and so the race was not able to take place on that date, taking place on the 19th of August instead. There were three starters in competition for the cup:
The Lily of Devon (30 tons) owned by W. F. Moore Esq. and under the Royal Western Yacht Club (Plymouth) flag
The Geraldine, owned by “_ Fitzgerald” (sic) and under the Royal Thames Yacht Club flag
The Grand Turk (29 tons) owned by Thomas Fox Esq. and under the Royal Western Yacht Club (Plymouth) flag
The race was described in Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, Sunday 30 August 1846 in great detail as follows:
“The interesting match of the day was between two crack clippers of the R. W. Y. C…..The Geraldine, R. T. Y. C., belonging to _Fitzgerald Esq., also entered for this cup but the breeze was too strong to give her a chance against her more powerful antagonists. The race started with a fine breeze at west, and in running down off the wind to the eastern mark boat, the Grand Turk headed her opponent, but on hauling their wind to fetch the southern mark boat, the breeze freshened, and the sailing between these two yachts was most interesting. Each had at this time as much canvas as she could drag under, with a head sea, and in a very short time the Lily both weathered and passed the other, and there appeared little doubt of her winning, but, unfortunately, when at some distance ahead, she carried away her weather cross tree, and was in consequence obliged to take in her gaff topsail, which gave the Grand Turk the advantage, and she succeeded in reaching and passing the starting boat about a minute before the Lily. By this time the Lily had got her small gaff topsail set and she again looked as if determined to wrest the cup from the other. On rounding the eastern mark boat for the second time she again came up close to the Grand Turk, and the latter, finding that she could not contend with her opponent against a head sea, most judiciously tacked, obliging the Lily to do the same. The race was now most exciting, the two vessels almost touching each other when tacking; the Lily to leeward of her antagonist, and partially becalmed by her sails. The Lily now edged away to leeward, thinking to pass by this means, and get again fairly in to the breeze. She had scarcely done so before the strop of the inner block of her peak halyards broke short off, which caused the peak of the sail to drop, and it was some time before it again could be hoisted, and the sail again made to stand. It was now evident that the Grand Turk must win, unless she met with some casualty, but she proved herself to be not only a very fast but a fortunate vessel, coming in the winner by three minutes and a half. The way in which the Grand Turk was handled by her crew excited much admiration. Two more splendid cutters than the Lily of Devon and the Grand Turk, of their tonnage, cannot we think, be found amongst any of the yacht clubs”.
John Attwood was the M. P. for Harwich in Essex and lived in a grand mansion Hylands Park in Chelmsford which still stands today, expanding the already large house at great expense.
Attwood had made his fortune as the owner of an ironworks in Birmingham but having achieved his goal and become a politician, by decidedly underhand means including bribery and other widespread corruption, he had a very short career. Elected in 1841, the accounts of the bribery used by his electoral agents led to him being forced out of parliament in 1848. Attwood had dreamed of getting a peerage, completing his journey from working man to gentleman, but died in disgrace and poverty in France hiding from his creditors in 1865.
Hunt and Roskell
A continuation of the firm set up by the great Paul Storr after leaving Rundell, Bridge and Rundell, Hunt and Roskell were the most important firm of silversmiths in the mid to late 19th century in London with royal warrants awarded by Queen Victoria and by the French emperor. They won countless awards at the International Exhibitions held during this period, including the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the firm continued independently until 1889 when it became part of the J. W. Benson company, still trading as Hunt and Roskell, until it was closed in 1965.
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An impressive silver gilt Lyme Regis & Charmouth Regatta Cup for 1846 presented by John Attwood M.P. made by Hunt and Roskell