Thieves Steal Valuable King Edward VII Jewelry From 15th Century Castle

Thieves have stolen several valuable items from a 15th century castle in England, including jewelry that a former king, Edward VII, gave to his mistress.

Detectives from Gloucestershire Constabulary say they are now investigating the burglary, which took place in the early hours of September 8 U.K. time, at Sudeley Castle, a stately home in the west of the country.

Police say that the thieves forced their way into an exhibition area of the home, smashed a display case and made off with a number of valuable artefacts using a four-wheel-drive vehicle which was parked nearby.

The stolen items include a Swiss late 18th century presentation gold box with a miniature of Edward VII set in diamonds, a Fabergé gold cigarette case with diamonds, a Fabergé silver caviar box and silver mounted vodka glasses from around 1910, and a 1783 gold snuffbox from Paris.

The thieves also took a 1910 Cartier watch monogrammed "AK" for Alice Keppel—a British society hostess who became Edward's mistress before he took the throne—and a book of extracts from Sydney Smith, an English writer from the 18th and 19th centuries, the BBC reported.

Both of these items were given to Keppel as gifts by Edward, the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1901 until his death in 1910.

"This burglary happened under cover of darkness, but it is still possible that someone may have witnessed suspicious behaviour at or near the property in the hours leading up to it or afterwards, and may be able to help us identify the offenders," Detective Superintendent Steve Bean from the Gloucestershire Constabulary said in a statement.

"Clearly the stolen items are very distinctive and have a great deal of historical, as well as financial, value," he said. "They should be easy to identify and if anyone is aware of them being offered for sale I would urge them to report it to police as soon as possible."

Police say that they are examining CCTV footage of the robbery which shows four individuals approaching the castle with a chair, a sledgehammer and a large bag.

The items belonged to the collection of Alice Keppel's grandson Lord Ashcombe, who is the husband of Lady Ashcombe, the owner of Sudeley Castle.

"We are all saddened to learn of this burglary. There were beautiful artefacts on display for everyone to enjoy and were very precious to me personally," Lady Ashcombe said in a statement.

Insurers are offering a reward of £10,000 ($12,454) for the return of the items.

The burglary at Sudeley Castle is not the only one to have taken place at an English stately home recently. Just one week after this incident, a gang of thieves stole a 55-pound, 18-carat solid gold toilet from Blenheim Palace—a huge country house in the southeastern county of Oxfordshire which was the birthplace of former British prime minister Winston Churchill.

Police say they have now arrested a second man in connection with the burglary of the working toilet, which is valued at around £4.8 million ($5.98 million), The Guardian reported.

Sudeley Castle's present structure was constructed in the 15th century when England was under the rule of the House of Tudor—whose most notable member, Henry VIII, was famous for having six wives.

In fact, Henry's last wife, Catherine Parr—who outlived him—is buried in the grounds of the castle, which was once her home. This makes Sudeley the only private castle in England to have a queen buried in the grounds.

Aside from Parr, Henry divorced two of his wives (Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves), had another two beheaded (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard), while the other, Jane Seymour, died shortly after giving birth.

King Edward VII jewelry collection
The stolen items include a Swiss late 18th century presentation gold box with a miniature of Edward VII set in diamonds, a Fabergé gold cigarette case with diamonds and a gold snuffbox from Paris, 1783. Gloucestershire Constabulary