20/12/2022 - Permalink

Historic mourning ring loaned to museum for display

Related topics: Leisure, culture and heritage / Partner organisations

A 279-year-old mourning ring related to one of Shropshire’s most influential families has been loaned to Shropshire museums service to be displayed at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.

The ring was commissioned by the Hill family on the death of Sarah Hill in 1744. Sarah was married to John Hill, the younger brother of Richard Hill, who became known as the ‘Great Hill’ (1654-1727). Richard had inherited Hawkstone on the death of their father in 1700 and, being immensely rich, went on to purchase additional land in Shropshire and Staffordshire with John acting on his behalf.

The Sarah Hill mourning ring

The Sarah Hill mourning ring

Mourning rings were given to close friends and family members as specified in the will of the deceased. Sarah’s ring, which was found 275 years later, is of a style popular at the time with elegant wavy hoops or scrolls, with her name death date and age. The bezel is set with clear crystal gemstone.

Emma-Kate Lanyon, curator with Shropshire Council’s museums and archives service, said:-

“Sarah was clearly a capable person, managing the house and land on behalf of her brother-in-law. In 1720, Richard decided to rebuild Hawkstone, much as we see the house and grounds today, and Sarah remained on site to oversee the works.”

As a result of Sarah’s endeavours, her eldest son Rowland inherited Hawkstone from his uncle when aged 22 and also became the first baronet, Sir Rowland Hill.

Emma-Kate added:-

“If we can uncover Sarah’s last will and testament we might be able to trace who may have owned the ring, but for now we can only imagine who may have dropped it”.

The ring has been kindly loaned to Shropshire Museums for display at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, where it can be seen alongside a portrait of her brother-in-law Richard Hill (attributed to the painter Charles d`Agar and dating from 1700) and her son Sir Rowland Hill (by an unknown artist and dating from c 1750-1760).

It will also be displayed with two fine porcelain trays from a dining set commissioned by the Hill family and decorated with views of their houses at Hawkstone and Hardwick, near Hadnall.  These have been kindly loaned to Shropshire Museums by Rev Richard Hayes.

For more information on collections at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery visit: