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Rundell, Bridge & Co

Collar of the Order of the Bath

Gold and enamel | 129 x 2.5 cm (collar (insignia)) | RCIN 442332

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  • Upon her accession to the throne Queen Victoria automatically became Sovereign of each of the British orders of chivalry: the Orders of the Garter, Thistle, St Patrick, Bath, and St Michael and St George. Queens Regnant from Mary Tudor onwards had only worn the Garter - although Queen Anne had refounded the Order of the Thistle in 1703. Suitable new insignia was thus needed for the new Queen, for whom the standard gold or gilt metal collars would have been too heavy (the standard Garter collar was 30oz of gold). The designs reflected three factors: the Queen’s diminutive stature, the décolleté fashion, and the prospect that the Queen might wear more than one collar at a time, a custom started by George IV and continued by William IV. A full set of collars in fitted mahogany cases was commissioned from Rundell, Bridge & Co. All the collars have lighter and smaller links than the standard pieces. In particular, the Garter collar is longer than the others to allow it to be worn from the upper arms rather than over the shoulders, and there is evidence that it was extended very shortly after its manufacture, from the standard length comprising twenty-four knots and twenty-four roses to thirty-six knots and thirty-six roses.

    In the manufacture of the Garter and the Bath collars - as well as the other collars of the suite - there are variations in the design of each piece from a standard investiture collar of the time. In the case of the Garter collar the roses are alternately red on white and white on red. This design follows the statute of the Order when the collar was instituted by Henry VIII in 1544, but no other collar following these designs is known to have existed. On the Bath collar, the badge hangs not from one of the crowns, as is usual, but from a white enamel knot. Similar variations affect the other collars of the suite.

    According to the Ceremonial, the Queen was to have worn all four collars at her Coronation, but in the event she wore only the Garter collar. It was frequently depicted by artists, notably in the full-length portrait by Winterhalter of 1843. The Bath collar was worn at the investiture of Bath knights.

    A volume of preparatory sketches for the collars by Rundell, Bridge & Co. was purchased for the Royal Library in 1950.

    Struck with marks for London, 1837; maker’s mark WC, possibly for William Cooper; engraved: RUNDELL, BRIDGE & CO Jewellers and Goldsmiths To The Queen

    Made for Queen Victoria, 1837

  • Medium and techniques

    Gold and enamel


    129 x 2.5 cm (collar (insignia))

    6 x 3.2 cm (whole object)

  • Alternative title(s)

    Order of the Bath. Queen Victoria's collar.

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.