A 121-year-old chocolate bar with royal connections has been found in the attic of a National Trust property.
The chocolate bar was part of a batch commissioned by Queen Victoria and sent as a morale-booster to British troops during the Boer War.
It was found in its original wrapper and tin in a Boer War helmet case at the 15th century Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk.
National Trust conservators discovered it while cataloguing the belongings of Frances Greathead, daughter of the hall’s owner, the 8th Baronet Sir Henry Edward Paston-Bedingfeld.
Anna Forrest, the National Trust’s cultural heritage curator, said: “Although it no longer looks appetising and is well past its use-by date – you wouldn’t want it as your Easter treat – it is still complete and a remarkable find.
“We can only assume that the 8th Baronet kept the chocolate with the helmet as a memento of his time in the Boer War.”
More than 100,000 tins, each containing half a pound of chocolate, were made for soldiers in the Second Boer War by Cadbury, Fry, and Rowntree.
Every soldier was meant to get a box with the inscription “South Africa 1900” and “I wish you a happy New Year” in the Queen’s writing.
The war, which lasted for three years from 1899, was fought between the British Empire and two independent Boer states over the empire’s influence in South Africa.
Sir Henry had been a major in the militia of the King’s Liverpool Regiment during the conflict.
He was still in South Africa in 1902 when his father died, prompting his return to Oxburgh Hall with the chocolate, his helmet and a new title.
Many of the soldiers posted their chocolate home for safekeeping and some tins survive, although very few still contain the chocolate.
The National Trust hopes to display the items in future.
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