Former Speaker of the House of Commons, Baroness Betty Boothroyd, is auctioning off a ton of gifts received during her political career – because they don’t fit in her new home.
Around 40 items are for sale, including a gift box from the late Russian President Boris Yeltsin, two Victorian crystal chandeliers and a Royal Navy carafe.
A limited edition ceramic figure of Lawrence of Arabia riding a camel – one of only six ever made – will also go under the hammer.
Baroness Boothroyd parted ways with the gifts after she was downsized from her London home to a small South Cambridgeshire cottage that is too small to house them.
Between 1992 and 2000 she was the only Speaker of the House of Commons.
She said, “I just have to keep going. I loved everything, but I have to let go.
“I loved everything. They are reminiscent of a colorful life. But I’m downsizing.
“It’s a terrible thing, but it is, and there is no alternative.
“I’m moving to a country house in South Cambridgeshire.
“It’s a nice old beamed place, but it doesn’t have the deep window sills or the space I need to display all of the items I have in London.
“It took me a long time to go through it all.
“I part with beautiful things that I have collected over the years or that have been given to me during my public life.
“These little memorabilia some bought during my travels to colorful countries like Cuba mean so much. You are my life story. “
One of the coveted items that is expected to fetch thousands is a decorative box given to her by Boris Yeltsin, the first President of Russia.
Baroness Boothroyd said: “I entertained President Yeltsin on a trip to London.
“He kissed my hand and gratefully handed me the little box with a note from him.
“That would have been when I was a speaker between 1992 and 2000.
“Another item that I absolutely love is a large limited edition ceramic figurine of Lawrence of Arabia riding a camel. It’s one of only six.
“It was given to me when I was President of the All Party Defense Group.
“When I left, they couldn’t decide whether to give me anything related to the Army, the Navy, or the Air Force, so they came up with Lawrence.”
Other items to go under the hammer include Baroness Boothroyd’s mirror from her dressing room, which contains a photo of her, costume jewelry, two pairs of Victorian crystal chandeliers, and a flat-bottomed carafe and glasses from a ship that was given to her by the British Navy in St. Petersburg, Russia.
She said, “I am very sorry to have to part with you.
“The mirror is beautiful and has a desperate frame. The carafe and the matching glasses are beautiful.
“When it comes to costume jewelry, I’m someone who wears something different every day and has something that goes with my outfits.”
The Baroness Betty Boothroyd Collection will be sold on April 26th at Hansons London, Teddington.
Auctioneer Chris Kirkham said, “It was an absolute pleasure to meet Baroness Boothroyd and catalog her items.
“This is an exceptional opportunity to buy something belonging to one of the most formidable women British politics has ever known.
“She brought order to the House of Commons. Now she has decided that it is time to bring more order to her life by downsizing.
“For those who have admired her down-to-earth demeanor, remarkable achievements and ability to rise to the top in the male-dominated world of British politics, here is a unique chance to own a piece of their life story.
“Baroness Boothroyd is a woman who really excelled.
“It is mixed with the great and good, including kings and great political leaders like South African Nelson Mandela and former American President Bill Clinton.
“She has also received an Order of Merit, a rare honor given at the Queen’s discretion.
“The Baroness attributes her success to being an only child who had to fight her own battles and just keep going.
“That may be the case, but there is something very special about her inner strength.
“She said Lockdown didn’t bother her at all as she was used to isolation and had been through so much.”
Baroness Boothroyd was born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, in 1929, the only child of Ben Archibald Boothroyd and his wife Mary, both textile workers.
She was educated in community schools and then studied at Dewsbury College of Commerce and Art.
From 1946 to 1952 she worked as a dancer and performed at the London Palladium.
However, a foot infection ended her dancing career and she entered politics.
Baroness Boothroyd ran for the Labor Party and held several seats before being elected MP for West Bromwich in 1973.
In 1992 she was elected Speaker of the House of Commons, the first woman to hold the position in 700 years.
She has received numerous prizes and awards, but is very proud of her Order of Merit, an honor bestowed by the Queen as a personal gift.