Charlotte Brontë’s hair ‘found in ring’ on Antiques Roadshow

Ring discovered in attic was probably made to mark the Jane Eyre author’s death

Literary find: the opened ring, containing what is suspected to be a braid of Charlotte Brontë’s hair. Photograph: BBC

Literary find: the opened ring, containing what is suspected to be a braid of Charlotte Brontë’s hair. Photograph: BBC

 

A lock of braided hair in a ring discovered in a Welsh attic is “very likely” to have been the hair of Charlotte Brontë, according to the Brontë Society.

The ring came to light on the latest episode of Antiques Roadshow, filmed in Erddig, in north Wales. An unidentified woman said it had belonged to her late father-in-law. It has an inscription on the inside, bearing the name of the author of Jane Eyre, and the date of her death, in 1855.

“I’ve got goosebumps now thinking about it. It’s got a hinge on it, and inside there’s plaited hair. I think it may be the hair of Charlotte Brontë,” the woman told the show’s jewellery expert Geoffrey Munn.

Munn said there was “very little reason to doubt” this. “It was a convention to make jewellery out of hair in the 19th century. There was a terror of not being able to remember the face and character of the person who had died,” he said.

Literary find: the ring containing what is suspected to be a braid of Charlotte Brontë’s hair. Photograph: BBC
Literary find: the ring containing what is suspected to be a braid of Charlotte Brontë’s hair. Photograph: BBC

“It wasn’t an uncommon thing to happen. [The ring] opens like a little biscuit-tin lid, and amazingly we see this hair work within, very finely worked and plaited hair. It echoes a bracelet Charlotte wore of her two sisters’ hair… So it’s absolutely the focus of the mid- to late 19th century and also the focus of Charlotte Brontë.” He said it was “utterly and completely credible” that the hair had been Brontë’s.

Ann Dinsdale, principal curator at the Brontë Society & Brontë Parsonage Museum, said they had no reason to doubt the ring had been made using the author’s hair, even though its provenance was unknown.

Dinsdale said the ring would be a “lovely addition” to the museum’s collection, funds permitting. “We already have a considerable collection of Brontë hair at the museum, and there’s usually a sample on display.”

Without the hair, Munn said he would have valued the ring at £25; with the hair and the inscription, he valued it at £20,000. – Guardian