Assistant Curator Nicola Baxter showing lost Russian jewellery
Princess Alix of Hesse visited Harrogate, North Yorkshire, in 1894 to take in the spa waters and during her time at Cathcart Guest House, the hotelier, Mrs Allen, gave both to twins.
An intricate jewelled cutlery set and a scrapbook of personal letters, including one from celebrated jeweller Carl Fabergé, have since been bought at auction for £20,000 and will now form part of an existing exhibition on the Russian Royal family at the Royal Pump House Museum.
The granddaughter of Queen Victoria and future wife of Tsar Nicholas II, the last ruler of the Russian Empire, visited the town 123 years ago and asked to become the godmother of the two twins.
Princess Alix of Hesse visited Harrogate in 1894
These treasures will be a great new attraction at the Royal Pump Room Museum and will help us to fill in the gaps in the story of the Russian Royal family's connection to Harrogate
They were named Alix and Nicholas after her and her future husband.
Jane Sellars, the curator of cultural Services at Harrogate Museums, which purchased the artefacts, said: "These treasures will be a great new attraction at the Royal Pump Room Museum and will help us to fill in the gaps in the story of the Russian Royal family's connection to Harrogate."
The ornate cutlery set, which was made by the Imperial Russian jewellers, Grachev, and is still in its original presentation box, was given to the twin girl Alix Allen by the Russian Tsarina in 1895 after she became Empress of Russia.
The jewellery was given to a local hotelier by the last Tsar and Tsarina
The scrapbook contains an assortment of letters and news clippings from the time of the princess' visit and documents the connection between the Russian Royal family and the Allen family.
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Also contained are letters from Russian jeweller, Carl Fabergé, requesting photographs of Cathcart House so that the hotel could be used in the design of an Imperial Easter egg, along with telegrams from Queen Alexandra to Princess Victoria.
The story of the Russian princess' stay at Cathcart House, her desire to stand as godmother and the gifts she sent to her godchildren until she was executed in 1918 is currently told in the Royal Pump Room Museum and is illustrated by objects donated by the son of Nicholas Allen, the twin boy.
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The ornate cutlery set was made by the Imperial Russian jewellers
The new acquisitions provide a fascinating insight into Alix Allen's part in the story, which have been missing from the collection.
Miss Sellars said: "The whereabouts of the cutlery set and scrapbook, which related to the female twin's half of the story, had been unknown until now. The extra depth of detail that they bring to Harrogate's history is both an important and exciting prospect.
"I would like to thank the Friends of Harrogate District Museums, the Friends of the Mercer Art Gallery, the Arts Council of England/V&A Purchase Fund and the Art Fund for their contributions which have helped us to purchase these artefacts."