Tea set and box

ARTIST / MAKER: J.W. Benson (retailer)
Roberts & Belk (manufacturer)
DATE: 1868 (made)
PLACE: England (made)

This seven-piece set by Roberts and Belk was retailed by the firm of J.W. Benson. It has two matching trays and retains its original wooden storage box. The design of the set reflects the Victorian taste for ancient Greek culture and design and the burgeoning interest in archaeology at this time. During this period tea sets were often given as gifts. The inscription on the tray for this tea set states, ‘This service of silver was presented to Walter Tebbitt by his brothers and sisters as a memorial of their affectionate appreciation of the talent, energy and perseverance to which they mainly attribute their signed success in the important probate cause recently concluded, 1868’. This refers to the contentious will of their aunt Anne Thwaites, who left the majority of her fortune to her second husband and his brother. Walter Tebbitt joined with his mother and brother-in-law to contest the will, and the probate was successfully resisted on the grounds of undue execution, want of capacity, and undue influence.