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Chester 17th Century plague carving goes up for auction

The carving next to the Chester house it's based on Image copyright Halls fine Art
Image caption The carving depicts a property known as God's Providence House in Chester

A 17th Century wooden carving which gave thanks to God for allowing a family to survive the plague has gone up for auction after sitting on a mantelpiece for more than 100 years.

The 1652 piece was created in tribute to a house in Chester, whose residents fortuitously survived a plague that decimated the city.

Its current owner had no idea of its history when she had it valued.

Auctioneer Joseph Trinder described the piece as a "one-off".

The oak carving depicts the house at 9, Watergate Street and is inscribed with the words "God's providence is mine inheritance".

The home became known as God's Providence House after its inhabitants avoided the disease that killed everybody else in the street.

Some 40% of Chester's 5,000 population was wiped out by the plague of 1647-1648.

Image copyright Eirian Evans/Geograph
Image caption God's Providence House today houses a coffee shop

The original building was destroyed and the current house built in 1652, when the carving is thought to have been created. The house was restored again in 1862 and now partly houses a coffee shop.

The carving's owner Juliet Blackie inherited it from her grandfather Robert Beswick, who was born in 1884 and was known to be an avid collector of historical artefacts.

Ms Blackie kept it above the fireplace of the family home, where it is thought to have remained for at least the past 100 years.

It is expected to raise between £800 and £1,200, although Mr Trinder admitted it was "one of a kind and difficult to value".

The auctioneer, of Halls Fine Art in Shrewsbury, said: "I was aware of the story and of the house of which this carving is an illustration, but I could not be sure if there was a direct link until I saw the date 1652 carved into the panel.

"That is the precise date when the house was rebuilt. Then I was sure that this dedication panel and its thanks to divine providence was the real thing."

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