Letter: Duchess in limbo

Sir: So, the export of the marble effigy of the Duchess of Nemours, much-loved cousin of Queen Victoria, is to be blocked and may end up in a British museum (Diary, 17 March). This is hardly cause for celebration.

The effigy was made to cover the tomb of the Duchess who died young, shortly after giving birth to a daughter in 1857. It was removed from the Roman Catholic church in Weybridge, Surrey, a matter of weeks before the chapel was declared redundant, thus avoiding the need to apply for listed building consent. It was sold in order to raise money for the Catholic church.

The Victorian Society believes that the sale of private funerary monuments for financial benefit is morally and perhaps legally wrong. The effigy of the late Duchess is not a national treasure to be squabbled over by the museums of England and France. It is a personal memorial to a life cut tragically short. As such it should be returned to the church whence it came. Sadly, however, the church (itself of enormous artistic and historical interest) is in such a neglected and vandalised state that, in the short term, the Duchess's effigy will have to remain in limbo.

Yours faithfully,


Director, The Victorian Society

London, W4