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Estate of former House of Commons Speaker Betty Boothroyd goes under the hammer in Newbury for 6 charities





Order! Order! There’s lots to interest bidders at an upcoming auction of items belonging to the colourful former House of Commons Speaker the late Betty Boothroyd in Newbury this month.

Baroness Boothroyd
Baroness Boothroyd

The Estate of the late Baroness Betty Boothroyd OM will be going under the hammer at Special Auction Services on Tuesday, January 23 and is estimated to fetch £200,000.

The sale will comprise items relating to the Baroness’s career as well as her home life and the money raised will be divided between six charities.

The top lot is a large, certificated diamond solitaire ring, and is expected to fetch £70,000-£100,000.

224 A Large certificated diamond solitaire ring, £70,000-100,000
224 A Large certificated diamond solitaire ring, £70,000-100,000

The diamond was bought by the Baroness from her favourite Westminster Jewellers J McCarthy Ltd, and at her request, the shop’s owner was looking for a particular sized diamond. When a much larger diamond than she was looking for came in, the owner phoned her to ask if he could bring it to ‘The House’ as soon as possible although it was bigger than she had requested. Her reply was “Mr Mullings a diamond can never be too large!”

An Edwardian twelve pointed diamond set star brooch £3,000-5,000
An Edwardian twelve pointed diamond set star brooch £3,000-5,000

Other jewellery highlights include a pair of Oscar Heyman of New York diamond encrusted cuff earrings (estimate £4,000-6,000), an Omega De Ville 18ct gold ladies’ wristwatch (estimate £2,000-3,000) as well as a high carat gold and diamond House of Commons brooch which is expected to fetch £1,000-2,000.

Betty’s fierce determination was evident in the five attempts it took her to be elected as an MP. A collection of her early political photos showing her campaigning for seats around the country before finally winning one in 1973 is estimated at £100-120.

Highlights of her career in pictures will also go under the hammer including framed photos of some of her proudest moments such as meeting Bill Clinton (estimate £40-60) and Nelson Mandela (estimate £20-30). A pair of signed Bust photographs of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are expected to fetch £500-800, whilst a collection of photos of the Late Queen Elizabeth II and her OMs could make £500-700.

Photograph albums from her country home which contain professional as well as personal photos are also expected to fetch £200-300.

There are several lots relating specifically to the House of Commons including, her black leather dispatch box with gilt tooling bearing the cypher for Elizabeth II and Betty Boothroyd (estimate £200-300); a Parliamentary bottle of single malt scotch whisky in a pine fitted case, labelled ‘Madam Speakers Order Specially’ (estimate £200-300), a Special Limited Edition The Battle of Culloden 1971 Glenmorangie single highland malt whisky (estimate £500-700), whilst a pair of House of Commons Speakers whisky tumblers will be sold with a set of matching placemats for £60-100. In addition, there is a Lifetime Achievement Award for the Right Hon Boothroyd OM, modelled as a Portcullis that carries an estimate of £80-£100.

220-2 A 15ct gold 'House of Commons' brooch, £300-500
220-2 A 15ct gold 'House of Commons' brooch, £300-500

Betty was renowned for wearing her Portcullis brooches and three of these will be included in the sale and are expected to fetch between £400-2,000 each. According to friends she never wore trousers in the House of Commons because “you have to present yourself properly” and she referred to what she wore there as her “uniform”. Ballgowns and ladies’ business suits range in estimate from £40 to £300 and include a red, white and blue Lachasse London cotton/linen and silk cocktail suit worn at Lord Lloyd-Webber’s House party Summer in 1997 (estimate £100-200), clothes worn for the photo shoot for her annual postcards as well as outfits worn on trips abroad.

Other highlights in the auction include a souvenir programme for the inauguration of JFK signed 'To Betty Boothroyd, with very best wishes, John F Kennedy' which will be sold with the order of dinner and event invitation for an estimated £300-500 and a travelling trunk from her time with the American Presidential race in the 1960s (estimate £40-60).

The auction will also comprise a Frances Segelman resin bust of the Baroness (which she never liked), that carries an estimate of £300-500. An assortment of parliamentary cartoons and etchings, fountain pens, ceramics, furniture, her collection of frogs, her bike as well as books will be offered for sale.

A Parliamentary bottle of single malt scotch whisky £200-300
A Parliamentary bottle of single malt scotch whisky £200-300

Her Executors are hoping that the money raised will be significant, reflecting Betty’s interest in helping and supporting charities.

Thomas Forrester, Director at Special Auction Services said: “Baroness Boothroyd, was an engaging, entertaining and human politician who was respected across the house, she cut a dash of colour through a sea of dark suites with her fabulous outfits…… many of these outfits will be sold in this auction. Madam Speaker and latterly Her Ladyship, had a very full political working life as can be seen in the many photos which are a true record of a remarkable life! it is heartwarming to know that the proceeds of the auction will go to many worthwhile and deserving charities.”

Special Auction Services are based at Nexus Park, Plenty Close, Off Hambridge Road, Newbury.



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