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  • Writer's picturePenrith and Eden Museum

The Duke of Monmouth Key

This decorative iron key is part of a donation from the Musgrave family of the now demolished Eden Hall. The key has a filigree handle, a device in the centre of the bow, and a 'M' on the barrel, with the inscription 'Duke of Monmouth'

The Duke of Monmouth was the illegitimate son of Charles II and his mistress Lucy Walter.

In an attempt to over through his uncle, he led the Monmouth Rebellion in 1645. They lost and he was charged with treason and beheaded in 1685.

A note found in an old newspaper cutting in the museum files, records that Sir George Musgrave stated.

"This key was found in the pocket of the Duke of Monmouth after he was beheaded in July 1685".

The Duke of Monmouth’s Rebellion did benefit some people, notably plantation owners. Most of the rebels who were not executed were transported to the West Indies for a life of hard labour.

One of those who may have gained in this way was Sir Christopher Musgrave. Perhaps this explains how the Musgrave family had it in their possession.

What the key is actually for, however remains a mystery!

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