Walking around the garden of the South Canonry (the Bishop’s residence) during last weekend’s ‘Secret Gardens of The Close’ Open Day recently, I was intrigued to notice a stone set in the wall next to a wrought iron gate. The stone was inscribed,
‘RMW Gleadowe. Creator of the Sword of Stalingrad and many beautiful things designed this gate.
I was therefore keen to find out what the Sword of Stalingrad was.
Wikipedia came to the rescue and informed me that it is a double-edged, two handled longsword, approximately four feet long, with a solid silver crossguard, inscribed in both Russian and English:
To the steel-hearted citizens of Stalingrad.
The gift of King George VI.
In token of the homage of the British people.
It was presented by Prime Minister Winston Churchill to Marshal Joseph Stalin at a ceremony during the Tehran Conference, in the presence of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a Guard of Honour. It pays homage from the British people to the Soviet defenders of Stalingrad during the Battle of Stalingrad (1942-1943).
The original design of the sword was by R.M.W.Gleadowe, a fine arts don from the University of Oxford. The sword was manufactured by Wilkinson Sword.
The description, from Wikipedia states that the hand grip is bound in 18 carat gold wire and has a pommel of rock crystal with a gold rose of England. Each end of the 10-inch crossguard is fashioned in the likeness of the head of a leopard and finished with parcel gilt.
The 36-inch double-edged blade is lenticular in cross-section and hand-forged from the finest Sheffield steel.
The scabbard was made from Persian lamb skin dyed crimson. It is decorated with the Royal Arms, the Crown and Cypher in silver gilt with five silver mounts and three rubies mounted on gold stars.
In its time it was celebrated as one of the last masterpieces in swordmaking craftsmanship from the modern age.
The sword is now displayed at the Battle of Stalingrad Museum in Volvograd (formerly Stalingrad) in southwest Russia, on the western bank of the Volga River.
Thank you so much Alan, for spotting this and doing the research. Good to record a time of friendly relations with Russia…