Queen lends £750,000 jewel to Exeter

Last updated at 13:47 30 August 2005

The Queen has allowed one of the Crown Jewels on display in the Tower of London to be loaned to the city that presented it to King Charles II in 1660.

The Exeter Salt, a priceless 18in high jewel-encrusted salt container, will form the centrepiece of an exhibition in Exeter, Devon.

It is thought to be the first time one of the Royal treasures in the Tower has been lent out to go on show in the regions in this way.

The city gave the ornate object to the new King to win back favour after the Civil War, in which it had sided with the Parliamentarians.

The Exeter Salt, made by Johann Hass of Hamburg in 1630, is in the shape of a turreted castle and encrusted with 73 jewels.

It was used for Coronation banquets in Westminster Hall until the reign of George IV, and is now on permanent display in the Tower of London's Jewel House.

£750,000 jewel

The Salt cost £700 at the time - the equivalent of about £750,000 today, according to local historian Dr Todd Gray, who is curating the exhibition.

He said: "It is either unusual or the first time any of the Crown Jewels has been lent out in this way. For Exeter it is very exciting because it is a fine piece of 17th Century art."

The Crown Jewel will form part of an exhibition to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Exeter's mayoralty - the third oldest in the country, after London and Winchester.

Exeter's Lord Mayor, Peter Wadham, said: "What a coup for the city to be given the honour of borrowing part of this nation's great heritage.

"We did not hold out much hope of being able to borrow such an important item from the Tower of London."

The Exeter Salt will be on display in Exeter Guildhall from September 30 to October 14.

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