My great grandmother married John Sheriton Grace, a relation of WG Grace. He died in 1870. Her family, Benson, were well-to-do printers who lived in an exclusive part of Newcastle. Always a strong-willed character, I guess they were none too impressed when their daughter met and married my great grandfather, an Irish-Catholic coal-miner. They ran a pub together and my grandfather was born in 1881 in a poor mining village in Durham. She still retained links with the Grace family and WG would come to visit.
My grandfather told WG that none of the other boys in the village would believe him when he said he was related to the great WG Grace. So he was given this belt that was worn in the Test Matches. The buckle - 5 x 9cm - is made of brass inscribed 'The Eleven' and shows the full team wearing patterned and spotted shirts before the tradition of wearing 'whites'. You could be forgiven for thinking that you needed to have a good growth of facial hair - if not a good beard, luxuriant moustache and side-burns - to be one of 'The Eleven'! The webbing is a faded blue and very worn as when with the other lads, my grandfather would wear it when 'batting for England' - in his imagination.