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Sunday May 28, 2023

Sweetheart brooch from HMS Vanguard reveals connection to Cooke household of Cambridge yore

A love misplaced at sea has come to the floor following the discover of a sweetheart brooch in a Cottenham area by steel detectorist Steve Greenhalgh.

The story originates with one of many Royal Navy’s worst-ever maritime disasters: the lack of 843 males on board HMS Vanguard when it blew up on July 9, 1917 at Scapa Stream. Badly-stored cordite on board the battleship ignited simply earlier than midnight: the devastating explosion killed all however two of the 845 crew.

Metallic detectorist Steve Greenhalgh with the lover brooch off HMS Vanguard. Image: Keith Heppell

A kind of who died was 18-year-old Midshipman Christopher Arthur Gresham Cooke. Christopher was the son of Arthur Cooke and Lucy Vivien Cooke, of Grove Lodge, Cambridge. Arthur Cooke was an ophthalmologist who was assistant surgeon at Addenbrooke’s Hospital on the time of his eldest son’s demise. He achieved the form of fame which means persons are nonetheless writing about him a century later as a result of, in 1918, he efficiently carried out a critical operation on Evelyn, spouse of Morland Agnew, and Mr Agnew was so delighted with the result that he created and received constructed the Evelyn Nursing Dwelling by the use of thanks.

All these tales and plenty extra are talked about throughout a half-hour chat with Impington resident Steve, a PR and advertising and marketing govt when he’s not out in a distant area scanning for outdated lumps of steel. And it began when he uncovered a sweetheart brooch late final yr.

Metallic detectorist Steve Greenhalgh with the lover brooch from HMS Vanguard. Image: Keith Heppell

“With the Cottenham farm, I’ve been going for about three years,” Steve says. “It’s seasonal due to the ploughing and harvesting, however in that point I’ve discovered half a dozen Roman cash, and Elizabeth I cash – cash going again to Edward III silver cash, cash from the reign of Charles I and II… numerous cash. There’s no assure you’ll discover one thing however there may be stuff on the market.”

He dashes off one in all many lightning-fast anecdotes.


“One of many cash is a double-headed Roman coin with the image of the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) on one aspect and the subsequent emperor, Marcus Aurelius, 161-180 on the opposite aspect. You possibly can nonetheless make out the gold gilt on the floor. At first I believed it was two cash caught collectively, nevertheless it isn’t. Marcus Aurelius was adopted by Antoninus Pius – Roman emperors had a factor about adopting and making the adoptive baby emperor fairly than having their very own youngsters as their successor….”

These Romans, they make ‘Succession’ look light-weight.

“So when I discovered the lover brooch on the finish of final yr I didn’t pay it that a lot consideration,” Steve continues. “It appeared like some other brooch you may discover, there’s fairly a number of wartime regiment brooches I’ve discovered.

Double-headed Roman coin with Antoninus Pius (138-161) and his adopted son Marcus Aurelius (161-180) discovered by steel detectorist Steve Greenhalgh

“I put it apart prepared for cleansing after which, in early 2023, I noticed ‘HMS Vanguard’ on it and appeared it up. I knew nothing about sweetheart brooches however learn an outline of them and what they’re used for – principally they got to by males going off to battle to their girlfriends who would put on them with quite a lot of pleasure that their man was doing their bit.”

Steve googled the crew record and found there was just one individual within the environs on the ship on the time it went up – Midshipman Christopher Cooke. Steve says that discovering this was astonishing.

Double-headed Roman coin with Antoninus Pius (138-161) and his adopted son Marcus Aurelius (161-180) discovered by steel detectorist Steve Greenhalgh

“Once you discover an artefact you very not often discover out something about its particular person life, so to have the ability to hyperlink your artefact to an actual life and an actual tragedy is very uncommon – it’s by no means occurred to me earlier than, I’ve by no means seen something on YourTube or within the gathering magazines.”

Is there somebody on the market who may need to declare the brooch? Steve hopes so.

“It’s a double tragedy,” he says. “It’s a tragedy that Christopher Cooke died aged 18, and the second tragedy is that younger girl who would most likely have positioned enormous worth on the lover brooch and would have misplaced it. It’s a narrative that information to be closed and I’d love to have the ability to hand it over. It’s not in unbelievable situation, it’s tin, not in fabulous situation, nevertheless it has huge emotional worth. ”

Impington-based Steve Greenhalgh with the lover brooch he discovered on Cottenham farmland. Image: Keith Heppell

The discover has modified Steve’s strategy: he’s grow to be a narrative detectorist in addition to a steel detectorist. And he needs solutions.


“The surprise of it’s that I can pull one thing out of the bottom that you simply wouldn’t see besides on the Fitzwilliam, after which it might be behind a glass case. I’ve a 1340 Edward coin. Somebody would have been extremely narked off to have dropped that , and practically 700 years later I picked it up – I’m as completely satisfied to seek out it as they have been narked off to have misplaced it, it offers you an incredible quantity of delight to seek out it.”

If anybody needs to come back ahead or discover out extra concerning the sweetheart badge, please electronic mail [email protected].

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