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Last Updated: Monday, 4 October, 2004, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
'Missing' royal records revealed
Archives manager Catherine Richards with a ledger
Archives manager Catherine Richards with one of the Pryce Jones ledgers
Royal documents, containing some of the clothing secrets of European kings and queens, have been found after it was thought they had been lost forever.

Missing pages from an order book from a company, understood to have supplied Queen Victoria with underwear, have been discovered in a crate.

They were found by Powys council's archives' unit, which has been cataloguing the business records.

However, only 10 pages have been found and many are still missing.

There is nothing in the paperwork in link the Pryce Jones firm with Britain's longest-serving monarch's underwear.

However, there are details from other European royal families as well as records from the royal palace, Sandringham.

They all sent little square patches of Pryce Jones' material asking for more.

The cloth, probably for nightgowns, is in black and grey although there are some in a lurid luminous pink
Catherine Richards, Powys archives

Powys council's archives manager, Catherine Richards, said: "The papers were found in a crate full of loose paperwork.

"We thought they were lost, but we've managed to put them back into the royal order book where they appear to have been taken from.

She added: "There's one order from the Queen of Norway and others from Sandringham.

"There's another from the Empress of Russia and the forms contain little squares of material with letters saying we've had this material before we'd like it again.

"The cloth, probably for nightgowns, is in black and grey although there's some in a lurid luminous pink.

"The orders date from about 1890 to 1900."

Sir Pryce Pryce Jones
Sir Pryce founded the world's first mail order business

The Pryce Jones records had been gathering dust for more than 130 years at the former headquarters of the world's first mail order business in Newtown, Powys.

The council agreed in August with the owners of the documents, ShopDirect, to catalogue and store them in a proper environment.

Records discovered include accounts, local and national newspaper cuttings and minutes from meetings.

There is also an order for 60,000 blankets for the Russian army and Florence Nightingale had a special type of flannel made for her which carried her name.

There are some royal warrants and a letter on behalf of Queen Victoria which are all framed.

There's also a warrant from 1880 from the Princess of Wales, one from 1902 from the Princess of Wales and another from Queen Alexandra in 1911.

Newtown historian David Pugh revealed in August that Pryce Jones supplied Queen Victoria with her udnerwear.

Sir Pryce Pryce Jones, who founded his Pryce Jones company, went from a shop assistant to a multi-millionaire responsible for 4,000 workers and 250,000 customers.

Sir Pryce was born in Llanllwchaiarn, near Newtown, in 1834, and became an apprentice at the age of 12 to a drapery business in Newtown.

In 1859, he opened his own shop in Newtown and by 1880 he had 250,000 customers all over the world.

As a mark of his success, Pryce Jones was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1887.

He died in 1920 at the age of 85.


SEE ALSO:
Queen visits Victoria's retreat
19 May 04  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Getting back into the groove
23 Jul 04  |  Magazine


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