Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Major William Careless Locket, c. 1653

C. 1653
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This copper-gilt locket is made in two parts and hinged at the top. The front is engraved with the arms and motto of one Major William Careless. The reverse is engraved with a scene showing Careless and King Charles II hiding in the oak tree. A portrait of Careless and an inscription appear in the locket’s interior.

So, why are they hiding in a tree? After the Royalist defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, the young Charles II and Colonel Careless took refuge in Shropshire where it is believed that they hid from the searching Cromwellian soldiers by climbing up into “a great oak.” With them, they took, “some victuals for the whole day viz. bread, cheese, small beer, and nothing else.” In the words of Nelson Muntz, “Haw, haw!”

The inscription reads:
Renowned Carlos! thow has won the day 

(Loyalty Lost) by helping Charles away, 

From Kings-Blood-Thirsty-Rebels in a Night, 

made black with Rage, of theives, & Hells dispight 

Live! King-Loved Sowle thy fame be Euer Spoke 

By all whilst England Beares a Royall Oake'

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