Lord Louis Mountbatten’s Inkwell


Last week marked the 36th anniversary of the death of Lord Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb whilst fishing off the coast of Ireland. He was both a member of the Royal Family, and politically a leading figure of on the world stage, which were contributing factors of why he became an IRA target.

Throughout his career Mountbatten held various titles and positions. He was the last Viceroy of India, and the first Governor General of the Independent Dominion of India. He also served as Supreme Allied Commander of the South East Asia Command, and was appointed First Sea Lord in the 1950s. After marrying Edwina Ashley, the heiress to the Broadlands estate in 1922, Romsey became a happy home for both Lord and Lady Mountbatten.

Lent to us by Alderman. A . Mitchell, We have in our collection an inkwell used by Lord Mountbatten to sign The Roll of Freemen, of whom Lord Louis was the first Freeman of the Borough of Romsey.  The award is there as a symbolic gesture of admiration for important people linked to Romsey. Lord Mountbatten was awarded the prestigious title because of his involvement in world affairs.

The inkwell bears no manufacturing information or date. Despite knowing little about the pot itself, at first glance you can see that it is a beautiful work of art. There are two fixed ink pots in the centre which are surrounded by ornate decorations. There are leaves and fruits and the faces of impish characters - the artwork is folkish in its appearance. There was a revival of interest in folk law in England which began in the 17th and 18th centuries, an interest that carried on throughout the 20th century; there were strong links between British folk law and national identity, and it is possible that the pot was created with this specific design as a nod to Lord Louis’ international persona. This is made even more likely when we look at other elements of the ceremony: Lord Mountbatten was presented with a Japanese samurai sword, and in turn Lord Louis presented the mayor of Romsey a captured Japanese 150mm gun (which still sits in the memorial park today) demonstrating the strong connections between  Mountbatten world affairs.

BIBLIOGRAPHY http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32811974 http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/heritage/archives/13363884.Look_back__Romsey_honours_Lord_Mountbatten/ Terraine, J., The Life and Times of Lord Mountbatten: An Illustrated Biography based on the Television History by John Terraine with a Foreword by Lord Mountbatten (London, 1969). Brochure: Broadlands, the Home of Lord Mountbatten  
Posted in Object of the Week