Belfast Telegraph

Stirrups worn by King Billy at the Boyne could fetch £60k in auction

By Claire McNeilly

They have been depicted on gable walls across Northern Ireland for years. But has anybody ever noticed the stirrups worn by King Billy on his famous white charger before?

It's unlikely - but all that could be about to change as the 17th century copper irons (below) are expected to fetch between £40,000 and £60,000 at auction next month.

They are among just 25 items being offered in the Exceptional Sale at Christie's in London on July 6, with huge interest from Northern Ireland anticipated.

The seller's agent, Nicholas Shaw, who trawled through the annals of history, told the Belfast Telegraph there is no doubt they were worn by William III (a grandson of Charles I) during the Battle of the Boyne.

"I researched these items and they turned out to be very special because of their association with William of Orange," he said.

"They used to belong to a very famous family from Portadown called the Blackers who, at one time, also had a pair of gloves that William used at the battle and his saddle cloth.

"Prior to William, Charles I, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, owned them, so you have two royal connections here."

Mr Shaw said the stirrups - which bear the initials CR (Charles Rex) and the date 1626 - were eventually handed down to Lieutenant Colonel William Blacker in around 1797.

"Blacker was one of the founders of the Orange Order in Armagh and in order to recruit people he took these stirrups with him around the towns of Ireland and used them as propaganda, so they became quite important," he said. "Since that time they've been in the family, passed down, until they eventually ended up with the seller I represent."

He added: "They are coming up in a very special sale at Christie's for which they have selected the best 25 items of this year and so it's a great honour to have them in there."

Listed as Lot 17, they are described as being "A pair of Charles I copper alloy stirrups with the cypher of Charles I" dating from the second quarter of the 17th century.

The brochure also details all seven previous owners, from Charles I to William III, followed by the Prince of Orange/Count of Nassau, Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Hamilton (who was aide-de-camp to William III), Colonel Edward Cary, Lieutenant Colonel William Blacker and finally to the current vendor.

A Museum of Orange Heritage spokesman declined to reveal if it would make an offer.

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