Sunday 11 December 2016

Last seen full of trifle ... the missing bowl worth €140,000

Tim Healy

Published 25/07/2015 | 02:30

The funeral of the Duke of Devonshire, whose family used the disputed bowl before it came to the home of Mary Elsie Carroll
The funeral of the Duke of Devonshire, whose family used the disputed bowl before it came to the home of Mary Elsie Carroll
The bowl was part of a dinner service commissioned by Queen Victoria

A valuable Wedgwood bowl which was part of a dinner service specially commissioned by Queen Victoria is at the centre of a High Court dispute.

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The fruit bowl, valued at at least £80,000 (€113,000) was used exclusively by the British royal family at Balmoral.

And it was later used by the family of the Duke of Devonshire, before it came to the Irish home of the late Mary Elsie Carroll, who had no idea of its value, the court heard.

But recently discovered correspondence suggests her son Michael sold the bowl back to the family of the Duke of Devonshire, for £100,000 (€140,000), the court heard.

The family of the deceased woman are seeking court orders restraining dissipation by Michael Carroll of any proceeds of sale of the bowl.

Marie Elsie Carroll died in 2011 and in her will left her home, valued at €53,000, to her daughter and six sons.

The residue of the estate was also divided between the siblings.

The bowl is part of the estate and is valued at more than the entire estate, according to John Hayden BL, for Marie Ryan, daughter of Ms Carroll.

It was stated in court documents that in a text to his sister Marie, Mr Carroll claimed he last saw the bowl, containing some trifle, in the fridge of the family home at Sarsfield Square, Athlone, Co Westmeath.

It is claimed Ms Ryan had found letters under the mattress of a bed used by her brother Michael in the family home at Sarsfield Square after Michael had left the house.

These included correspondence from Sotheby's indicating the family of the Duke of Devonshire did not wish the bowl to be sold at auction and would pay some £100,000 for it.

Correspondence from Permanent TSB indicated a sum of £100,000 was received from Sotheby's.

Ms Ryan, as executor of her mother's will, has brought proceedings seeking orders against Michael, including restraining dissipation of proceeds of any sale of the bowl or of some €30,000 funds alleged to have been removed from a joint account held in an Irish bank.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan granted an application by Mr Hayden, for Ms Carroll, to serve short notice of the application for injunctions against her brother.

Her brother had lived at Sarsfield Square for a time, and also has an address in Dublin. The judge returned the matter to Wednesday next.

Counsel said the application arose because Michael Carroll had withdrawn some €30,000 from a joint account and also taken the bowl.

His side believed the bowl had been sold to its original owners, the family of the Duke of Devonshire.

The bowl was part of a dinner service commissioned by Queen Victoria when staying at Balmoral Castle, counsel said.

When the British royal family ceased to visit Balmoral as frequently as previously, the service was passed on to the family of the Duke of Devonshire at Longleat House, counsel said.

Individual parts of the service later appeared to have been sold.

When working in England in the post-war years, Mary Elsie Carroll bought the bowl at a local market in the Bury St Edmunds area, which is close to Longleith House, home of the Duke of Devonshire.

After Ms Carroll returned to Ireland, the bowl was regularly used for salads at her home without any awareness of its value.

Irish Independent

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