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Bay leaf from the Duke of Wellington's coffin

According to the inscription on this envelope, the bay leaf it contains came ‘from the crown placed on the coffin of the Duke of Wellington'. The leaf is possibly from one of the laurel wreaths, or chaplets, that hung from the corners of a canopy sheltering the coffin from the rain while it was being transported on the funeral car. The use of laurel wreaths stemmed from the ancient Greek and Roman custom of using them to crown victors.

The leaf is from the personal papers of Wellington's great-nephew George Henry Cadogan, 5th Earl of Cadogan, who was 12 at the time of the Duke's death.