You see, what fascinates me about this hobby is the complete randomness of what one will uncover next…One minute one is tripping over Roman Quern Stones, the next minute one is digging up a Medieval buckle. Today for example I nipped out around St Mary’s Church trying to locate any coins or artefacts that may have been dropped on an old footpath that no longer exists. After an hour of completely fruitless searching ( I don’t count plough fragments and Tizer cans as worthy of too much attention), I got a strong copper signal on my Garrett 550 and starting to dig…what popped out was remarkable:
Now, I must admit what I would like to have found was perhaps a golden torc or a Saxon brooch, or another hammered silver coin…but this little piece of history is rich and valuable in it own right. The reverse legend is surprisingly verbose:
“In commemoration of the visit of their Royal Highnesses The Prince & Princess of Wales to the Metropolitan & City Police Orphanage Twickenham on July 8th 1882”.
This visit is well recorded in the London Illustrated News:
The Prince and Princess of Wales on Saturday last opened the newly-built wing of the Metropolitan and City Police Orphanage, at Strawberry Hill, Twickenham; and the Princess afterwards distributed the prizes to the deserving children of the school. This institution was founded by the efforts of Colonel Sir Edmund Henderson, Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, seconded by those of Colonel Fraser, C.B., Chief of the City Police. Their Royal Highnesses were received by a distinguished company, amongst whom were the Marquis and Marchioness of Bath, Lady Burdett-Coutts, and the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress. Mr. Howard Vincent, on behalf of the board of managers; of which he is chairman, read an address of welcome to the Prince and Princess. In this it was stated that the institution provided for the maintenance, education, and start in life of 150 boys and 100 girls, and that of the police themselves 11,960 officers and constables subscribed to its funds. The Prince of Wales, in declaring the new wing open, remarked that no body of men deserved support and appreciation more than the Metropolitan and City police. Though their number was increasing, the force was small in comparison with the enormous and ever-increasing population of the great city of London. The Prince further expressed his satisfaction at the favourable report of the school by her Majesty’s inspector, and cordially wished prosperity to an institution which he considered one of the most valuable and important in the kingdom. The interesting act of presenting the prizes, which is shown in our Illustration, was performed by her Royal Highness. The children, to the number of 250, assembled in a marquee, sang “God Bless the Prince of Wales.” The new part of the building, which has cost about £4,200, is to include boys’, girls’, and infant class-rooms. In the boys’ room there was an exhibition of art and handicraft, promoted by Mr. Howard Vincent with it view to give profitable employment to men of the force in their leisure hour. The articles exhibited including several drawings and paintings of merit, and a number of objects displaying skill, ingenuity, and taste. Superintendents Green, Digby, Foster, and Harris, the head master, the matron, and the head mistress had the honour of being presented to their Royal Highnesses, who passed through the grounds, noticing the children’s gardens, as they left the institution.
The Prince and Princess afterwards went to Fortescue House, Twickenham, and there opened a bazaar in aid of the National Refuges for Homeless and Destitute Children, and of the Arethusa and Chichester training-ships.
Source: The Illustrated London News, No.2254—Vol. LXXXI, Saturday, July 15, 1882, p.58
Indeed there is even a picture of the Princess of Wales handing out awards to the children of the Orphanage.
The questions such a find creates are legion…did a child from the Orphanage make it up to the Eversdens in the late Victorian Period…who were they, what was his or her name? Was someone of notable standing present at the ceremony and received a keep sake of the event? Are other such tokens recorded anywhere? How rare is the find….So many avenues to explore all from one small find…amazing isn’t it?!