Heritage going west

PART of Suffolk's heritage was today being prepared to be shipped out to America after being on display at Ipswich Museum.The figurehead from HMS Shannon and the fiddlebeak - a smaller type of figurehead from smaller vessels - from the USS Chesapeake have been on display at the museum as part of the Nelson exhibition.

PART of Suffolk's heritage was today being prepared to be shipped out to America after being on display at Ipswich Museum.

The figurehead from HMS Shannon and the fiddlebeak - a smaller type of figurehead from smaller vessels - from the USS Chesapeake have been on display at the museum as part of the Nelson exhibition.

They are owned by the de Saumarez family of Shrubland Hall at Coddenham - and have been sold to help pay inheritance tax.

There were hopes that they could have been given to the nation in lieu of inheritance in tax, but in the event they were sold at Sothebys for a sum believed to be many thousands of pounds.

The items have been bought by an American living in Florida, and an export licence has been granted.

Museum manager Tim Heyburn said: “It really is rather galling. These items have direct links with this area and they are going to be lost to America.”

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The Shannon and the Chesapeake were involved in a skirmish during the short Anglo-American war of 1812.

The Shannon was commanded by Captain Philip de Vere Brooke of Nacton Hall near Ipswich and defeated the Chesapeake even though it was outgunned.

Mr Heyburn said: “These pieces have a direct link with Suffolk. We heard only last week they were going to leave the museum.”

They have been on display as part of the Nelson exhibition since last July - but tomorrow could be the last opportunity to see them.

“We've been told to have them ready to be collected by Monday - so this really is the last chance to see them,” said Mr Heyburn.

A silver salver that was also part of the exhibition is also believed to have been sold - but an export licence has not yet been issued.

“That was presented to Captain Brooke by the people of Suffolk through public subscription to mark his success - so it really should stay in this country,” said Mr Heyburn.

THE Anglo-American war of 1812 came during the Napoleonic Wars when the fledgling United States government tried to take advantage of Britain's discomfort to expand into Canada.

Although the American government recognised the French Revolution and Napoleon's reign, the war was separate from the main conflict in Europe.

However Britain was prepared for the conflict, and one of the most memorable actions came when the British set fire to the new American capital, Washington.

The Americans won a battle at New Orleans.

Most historians regard the war as a draw - although in retrospect it is seen that the British came out better. Canada remained British and America's expansion continued westwards rather than northwards.