Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Monday, 26 October 2009

Play for king in castle's attic

The manuscript
The manuscript is said to be from the 17th Century

A rare Jacobean manuscript of a play about women's liberation, which was found in a trunk at a castle, is expected to fetch £90,000 at auction.

The unknown play by Lord Edward Herbert was found during a valuation by auctioneers Bonhams at Powis Castle in Welshpool, Powys.

It is believed the play was to have been performed before James I and his court in 1618, but it was cancelled.

The manuscript of the play, called The Amazon, includes crossings out.

It was discovered by auctioneer Felix Pryor during a valuation, and will be auctioned next month.

He said it was found in a folder marked Old Poems and buried in a trunk, along with other documents, that had been stored in an attic at the castle.

'The Amazon'

Bonhams said the play was about women's liberation, and "how well women would do without men" and "how useful divorce is".

Mr Pryor said: "There were typed letters from the estate's archive and the like mixed in with 17th Century property deeds, themselves not without interest.

"It turned out later that everything in the trunks had been meticulously listed, item by item. But with one exception. This was a folder, marked, 'Old Poems'.

"Some of these were just 17th Century copies - others were clearly in the hand of Lord Powis's forebear, Lord Herbert of Chirbury.

"And in this folder, there it was. A play. And clearly the draft of a play.

"It had lots of crossings out. It even had a heading: The Amazon."

Mr Pryor said he had researched the manuscript and found that there had been a play of that name due to be performed before James I on New Year's Day in 1618.

But for some reason it had been cancelled.

He added: "The manuscript itself, which is written in a sort of pre-bound booklet of foolscap size, is set out in the manner that one can identify as typical of professional dramatists of the period."

The manuscript will be auctioned on 10 November by Bonhams.

Powis Castle was built by Welsh princes and is now home to the Earl of Powis.

The castle has a renowned garden with Italianate terraces, and has one of the finest collections of paintings and furniture in Wales.

There is also a collection of treasures from India displayed in the Clive Museum.

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