The history of King’s Lynn in 100 Objects No9

Picture 002 ANL-150226-163127001

Picture 002 ANL-150226-163127001

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This intricate and beautiful object on display in the Lynn Museum is a watch and chatelaine (a set of short chains with useful items).

It was given to Lynn novelist and letter writer Fanny Burney in 1791.

It was probably a parting gift on leaving her position of Second Keeper of the Robes for Queen Charlotte and George III.

The watch and chatelaine are made from silver gilt and enamel, with a circular seed pearl decoration on the watch.

It also contains the hair of the royal princesses.

Fanny was famous for her witty and perceptive novels concerning Georgian polite society.

In 1778, at the age of 26, she published her first novel, Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady’s entrance into the World, in which the heroine stumbled through the pitfalls of polite society, before overcoming them and happily marrying.

After the release and success of her second novel, Cecilia, or Memoirs of an heiress, she was introduced to Queen Charlotte and George III, who persuaded her in 1786 to stay at court as Second Keeper of the Robes.

She left this post in 1791, at which point she was presented with this watch and chatelaine.

Although Fanny lived and grew up in Lynn, after leaving the royal household she married a Frenchman, and lived in Paris from 1802, being trapped there during the Napoleonic Wars.

After the Battle of Waterloo (1815), she and her husband moved to Bath.

This item was purchased for the museum in 1960 with the help of the V&A Museum Purchase Grant.