As the reign of James II was short and overshadowed by the political crisis which culminated in his exile of 1688 there are a few jewels associated with him and with his second wife Queen Mary of Modena. The ruby chain ring - like a miniature bracelet - used at their wedding which took place at Dover in November 1673 is now at Arundel Castle. Although Queen Mary owned a diamond ring from her first proxy marriage in Modena, the ruby ring meant much more to her and as her most treasured possession she bequeathed it to her favourite nuns of the convent of the Visitation at Chaillot near Paris, from whom it came to the Dukes of Nofolk. The young Queen’s miniature at Grimsthorpe Castle, set in a gold pendant crowned with three rose-cut diamonds, conveys her charm and good looks: the inscription at the back MARIA JACOBUS REGENTES dates from her short reign.

Armchair (one of four)

Factory: Tapestry probably woven at Royal Manufactory Beauvais 1664-1789

Date: ca. 1755–65

Culture: British and French, probably Beauvais

This rococo chair is part of a larger set of seat furniture supplied to the third Duke of Ancaster (1714–1778) for Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire. Executed in the French taste, fashionable in mid-eighteenth century England, the set was originally partly gilt and upholstered with Gobelins tapestry (now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) after designs by the painter François Boucher. The present covers were applied between 1934 and 1958.