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Heirloom wedding ring returned to Verdmont museum

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Former Bermuda resident Jean Freeman offers her wedding ring, a Bermudian relic from the 1800s, to the Bermuda National Trust’s Charlotte Andrews (Photograph supplied)

A 154-year-old ring found between the floorboards of an historic home has been repatriated by a former Bermudian resident and returned to the Bermuda National Trust.

Jean Freeman returned the gold ring last week after using it as a wedding band from her first husband, William Joell.

Ms Freeman, an archivist herself, said: “It has always been in my mind to return the ring to its rightful place.

“Since I was coming to Bermuda in May, I decided to gift it to the Bermuda National Trust.

“My son, Willy Freeman, suggested that I hand it over right at Verdmont.”

Jean Freedman returns a 154-year-old wedding ring to the Bermuda National Trust (Photograph supplied)

Ms Freeman, who lives in Ontario, Canada, said that Mr Joell discovered the wedding band under the floorboards of Verdmont House in the 1940s, then owned by his family, when he was a child.

The Joell family treasured the ring before Alan Paul Joell, the patriarch of the family, sold the historic house to the BNT.

The ring is inscribed “To Emma from Willie, 18 June, 1868”.

Ms Freeman suggested from her own research that it belonged to a woman named Emma Elizabeth Spencer, who later died in the US in 1890 aged 44.

Charlotte Andrews, the head of cultural heritage at BNT, said that she was “thrilled” and “very grateful” to have received the ring after about 80 years.

Dr Andrews added: “Objects such as this ring are so important in telling the story of a place and the people who lived there.

“The wonderful thing about this story is how it connects families in the present with the past – in this case both with the Joell family in the 1940s and possibly with the Spencer family in the 1800s.

“Many of us can relate to this expression of love and family passed down through generations, or in this case an heirloom lost, then found, and now shared with everyone.”

Verdmont House will be open for free this Saturday from 11am to 4pm in honour of Heritage Month.

Several activities will be available for all ages, including “cultural heritage stations” that break down the story of Verdmont and access to the African Heritage Diaspora Trial site.

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Published May 17, 2022 at 7:45 am (Updated May 17, 2022 at 7:45 am)

Heirloom wedding ring returned to Verdmont museum

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