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Jewellery/Accessories: M0075


Order worn by William Charles Macready and Samuel Phelps


Mixed media



Cardinal Richelieu : Richelieu; or, The Conspiracy
Cardinal Richelieu : Richelieu; or, The Conspiracy


Height: 16.6cm
Width: 14cm
Depth: 1cm

Other materials

Metal attached to cloth with wooden back board


"ORDER WORN BY SAMUEL PHELPS IN RICHELIEU" (caption in gold paint on backboard)


Presented to the Garrick Club by Roger Morgan Esq., 1971

Other number

Gift 840

William Charles Macready noted in his diary on February 12th 1851 that he had received “a very becoming and grateful note from Phelps acknowledging my Richelieu’s order.” [ed. William Toynbee “The Diaries of William Charles Macready 1833-1851” London 1912 p.493] This original letter is now in the Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson Theatre Collection, London.
“8 Canonbury Square,
Islington. February 12.
My dear Sir. – You have given a high memorial which, had it been granted at my own request, would have possessed comparatively little. My gratification at receiving it is greatly increased too, as it gives me an opportunity of saying how much I am indebted to my four years’ professional connection with you – of assuring you that the important service rendered at an eventful period of my life has never been forgotten, and that all the members of my family are likely to recollect you not only as a great actor but as a good man.
For many years you may be enabled to say – ‘Beatus ille qui procul negotiis’ – is the sincere wish of
My dear Sir
Yours very faithfully
Saml. Phelps.”
[see abridged and ed. J C Trewin “The Journal of William Charles Macready 1832-1851” London 1967 p.291]
Macready first played Cardinal Richelieu in Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s historical drama at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden on March 7th 1839, in the presence of Queen Victoria who was presented with a book of the new play. It was a huge success and the production would receive thirty-seven performances in that season. Phelps played the role of Joseph, Capuchin monk and Richelieu’s confidant. During his second season as manager at Sadler’s Wells Phelps took the lead for the first time when he introduced the play to that stage on 18th June 1845. It would become a great success for him and he would repeat it many times, still playing it during the 1850-51 season, when Macready made this gift to him, just two weeks before his retirement, bowing out with a performance as Macbeth on 26th February, for his final benefit at Drury Lane. Phelps helped out as Macduff. Phelps was also in attendance for Macready’s farewell dinner that was held on March 1st 1851 at the Hall of Commerce, Threadneedle Street. [see “Macready’s Reminiscences and Selections from his diaries and letters” ed. Sir Frederick Pollock, 1875 p374]
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