People cope with grief in countless different ways after losing a loved one. But, after Anna Maria, the Countess of Derwentwater, lost her husband in 1716, she expressed her emotions in an exceptionally rare way.
James Radclyffe, Anna’s husband, was the third Earl of Derwentwater who, at just twenty-six, aided the very first Jacobite rebellion.
The Jacobites were led by Charles Edward Stuart, who hoped to regain the British throne of his father. And James fought alongside the other rebels in the 1715 Battle of Preston.
But, their effort was ultimately unsuccessful, and nearly one thousand and five hundred Jacobites were captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London– including James.
Then, on January 24, 1716, he was doomed to a brutal fate. That day, James was sentenced to death for treason and beheaded.
Anna was devastated by the tragic loss but was still allowed to take responsibility for her husband’s body following the execution– which included James’ severed head.
And this provided Anna with the unique opportunity to save some locks of her husband’s hair as a keepsake.
Moreover, she decided to use this hair to create an eerie yet touching memorial.
Museum of London Docklands; pictured above is the sheet that Anna embroidered with her husband’s hair
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