indian mutiny 1857


Taj Lake Palace Hotel- India

The Lake Palace is an 83 room hotel, situated in the middle of a lake in Udaipur. Accessible by boat, luxury hotel the hotel was built between 1743 & 1746 as a royal summer palace. 

During the famous Indian Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, some European families fled to the island, using it as an asylum, as guests of  Maharana Swaroop Singh. All the town’s boats so that no one could reach the island, keeping the Maharana’s  guests safe. 

Crown of Emperor Bahadur Shah II

India, Mughal, second quarter of the 19th century

Gold, turquoises, rubies, diamonds, pearls, emeralds, feathers and velvet

In the aftermath of the Indian Mutiny of 1857 Bahadur Shah (1775-1862), nominally the last Mughal emperor and King of Delhi, was deposed and exiled to Burma, and the involvement of the East India Company in the government of India ceased. The official end of the Mughal Empire was marked in Delhi by the auction of quantities of jewels and other valuable relics of Bahadur Shah’s court.

Three such relics, the Emperor’s so-called crown and two throne chairs, were bought by Major Robert Tytler (1818-72) of the 38th Regiment of Native Infantry (Bengal), who had taken part in the Siege of Delhi. Returning to England in 1860 Tytler declined £1,000 for the crown from a Bond Street jeweller, deciding instead to offer the relics to Queen Victoria. On 3 January 1861, Sir Charles Wood (1800-1885; later Viscount Halifax), Secretary of State for India, wrote to Prince Albert from the India Office, enclosed a memorandum regarding Tytler’s relics, mentioning in particular ‘an article of head dress which has been brought here … It cannot however be called a crown. It is a very rich skull-cap worn on the head of the Emperor, & round the lower part of which the turban was wound - & in the turban jewels were placed.’ Sir Charles recorded that Sir John Lawrence (1811-79, a member of the Council of India and later Viceroy) had seen the so-called crown ‘& has no doubt of its being what the Emperor actually wore’. In response, the Prince (who immediately recognised the great symbolic value and historical interest of the relics) asked Sir Charles to find out what the owner expected for the crown and for the two throne chairs that were also mentioned. On 8 January Wood reported to the Prince that the crown had been sent to Windsor for the Queen to inspect. Both the crown and the throne chairs were subsequently purchased by the Queen.

As recounted in later years by his wife, Tytler felt that the figure of £500 offered by Sir Charles for the crown and two throne chairs was far too low, but reluctantly agreed to it on the promise of a suitable appointment when he returned to India. No such appointment was forthcoming, and the unsatisfactory nature of the transaction with Sir Charles continued to rankle with Harriet Tytler when writing her memoirs more than forty years later.



 The first image, an oil painting by Louis William Desanges , painted c.1860 depicts Lieutenant John Watson, 1st Punjab Cavalry winning the VC at Lucknow, Indian Mutiny, 14 November 1857. He is wearing shoulder chains.

The second image is of Dighton Probyn, 2nd Punjab Cavalry, in Indian dress, 1857, also clearly wearing shoulder chains. Also note his mail gloves.

The third image, another oil on canvas painting by Louis William Desanges (1860), shows Lieutenant William George Cubitt, 13th Regiment (Bengal) Native Infantry, at Lucknow, 30 June 1857, winning his VC. Also sporting shoulder chains.

These three images are just a few examples of shoulder chains–mail (”chain mail”) epaulettes adopted by British officers during the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58. Later in the century the British Army would adopt shoulder chains for cavalry regiments. 

 All images © The National Army Museum


Three British Pattern 1821 Officers’ Swords

Left: Pattern 1821 Artillery Officer’s Sword retailed by Phillips & Sons, complete with original sword knot and blade with bright original polish.

Center: Pattern 1821 Light Cavalry Officer’s Sword made by Henry Wilkinson for an officer of the 15th Hussars,, with service sharpened blade for use in the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80).

Right: Pattern 1821 Light Cavalry Officer’s Sword made by Henry Wilkinson for an officer of the East India Company, with service sharpened blade that saw action in the Indian Mutiny (1857-58)

Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Frederick Robertson Aikman (1828–1888), VC, 4th Bengal Native Infantry
by George Agnew Goldingham (Captain)

Aikman was a lieutenant in the 4th Bengal Native Infantry when he won the Victoria Cross during the Indian Mutiny (1857–1859).