FORMAL OPENING - Totnes Elizabethan House and Museum

By: John Tissandier
Added: 23 April 2012

The Lee Rings Exhibition was formally opened by Dr Sarah Wollaston MP this morning. From left to right: Pruw Boswell, Judy Westacott Mayor of Totnes, Sarah Wollaston and Richard Wyatt.

Richard was largely responsible for locating the second ring (see previous entry "LEE RINGS REUNITED IN TOTNES" for more information on this).

THE HISTORY OF THE RINGS. The Lee Rings were given by the Town of Totnes to the grand-daughters of Richard Lee senior, a wealthy wool merchant. Here is a copy of the entry in the borough accounts of 1651(2).

6 Jan To Mr Eveleigh to make up £4 due to him for 2 rings given to the daughters of
Mr Ricd Lee, 6s, who had also £3-14s out of the arrears of Hackers House £3 - 14s

Richard Lee senior had presented the Church Walk to the town, in around 1612, to be used as an Exchange or place of business. Supported by granite pillars, the chamber stood above a covered walkway known as Church Walk; this was in front of St Mary’s Parish Church – between what is now a branch of the Santander Bank and Wellington the jewellers. In return, the Mayor and Burgesses granted him an annuity of £10 for fifteen years. The rings depict the columns of the Church Walk together with people of all nations transacting business there.

The two daughters were named Katherine and Christian. Katherine married John Luscombe in 1639 at Marldon and then, having been widowed, she married Servington Savery in 1643. Christian married Ager Gilbert, also at Marldon, in 1653 and died in 1660 leaving no children. Katherine’s ring has come down through the Savery family from her eldest son, Christopher. Christian’s ring must have been passed to Katherine’s other son, Richard, and was bought by the Totnes Antiquarian Society at auction in 1931 for £35.

The inscriptions on the rings are:

RL to T and T to KL – Richard Lee to Totnes and Totnes to Katherine Lee (or maybe Luscombe)
RL to T and T to CL – Richard Lee to Totnes and Totnes to Christian Lee