19 December 2014

Pitt's missing port glass

Pitt's (now missing) port glass, formerly at a branch of Barclay's bank in Cambridge

I have previously touched upon Pitt's drinking habits, but never the vessels from which such potations were drunk. One such port glass thought to have been owned by William Pitt was, during the early 1960s at least, in the 'Pitt Room' of the Barclays Bank on Bene't Street in Cambridge, England [1]. It was mentioned by John W. Derry in his 1962 biography of Pitt, including a photograph of the object (see above). 

Now that it has been 52 years since Derry's biography, I thought I would go in search of the object to see it for myself. The Bene't Street branch of Barclays has long since been closed, and for several months I was chasing various Cambridge branches of Barclays bank in order to track down the elusive port glass. Apart from being the only person to potentially ever contact Barclays bank customer services about an 18th century port glass, it was a bit of a non-starter. Finally, I contacted Barclays Group Archives to see what they could find out about what became of the object once the Bene't Street branch had closed.

The group archivist there kindly got back to me, but the news was not at all what I was expecting: the port glass is nowhere to be found. Not only that, but it has been missing for well over two decades. The archivist at Barclays had made some fairly extensive enquiries with colleagues in Cambridge - many of whom had worked in Bene't Street for over 20 years - and none of them ever remember seeing the port glass or even hearing about it. This suggests that Pitt's port glass was stolen, or went missing, at some point between 1962 (the publication of Derry's biography) and the 1990s. 

I hope one day it can be found. One wonders where it has ended up. If anyone reading this has any ideas regarding its whereabouts, or that of any other glass once sipped from by Pitt the younger, do let me know.


1. Derry, J.W. (1962) William Pitt. London: Batsford, p. 49.

Image Credit:

The image above was taken from p. 49 of John W. Derry's 1962 biography of Pitt.

1 comment:

  1. This port glass is really good and I think it really leaves a great impression on others while we are serving them a drink.