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Chocolate given to troops 121 years ago by Queen Victoria is found in attic

The chocolate bar belonged to Sir Henry Edward Paston-Bedingfeld (Picture: PA)

A chocolate bar dating back 121 years, one of a batch handed out to British troops to boost morale during the Boer War, has been discovered in an attic.

The sweet treat, still in its original wrapper and tin, was part of a batch commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1900.

It was found in a Boer War helmet case at a National Trust property — 15th century Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk — and belonged to the 8th baronet, Sir Henry Edward Paston-Bedingfeld.

Anna Forrest, the trust’s cultural heritage curator, said he probably kept it ‘as a memento of his time in the Boer War’.

She added: ‘Although it no longer looks appetising and is well past its use-by date, it is still complete and a remarkable find.’

The war, which began in 1899 and lasted three years, was fought between the British and two independent Boer states over Britain’s influence in South Africa.

It was found in a Boer War helmet case (Picture: PA)
The chocolate tin was part of a batch commissioned by Queen Victoria (Picture: PA)
The chocolate and helmet belonged to the 8th Baronet, Sir Henry Edward Paston-Bedingfeld (Picture: PA)

More than 100,000 tins, each containing a half-pound of plain chocolate, were produced, with the inscription ‘South Africa 1900’ and ‘I wish you a happy New Year’ in Queen Victoria’s handwriting.

‘By the turn of the century, Henry was a major in the militia of the King’s Liverpool Regiment and fought in the Boer War,’ said Ms Forrest.

The chocolate was found by National Trust conservators who were cataloguing items owned by Sir Henry’s daughter Frances, who died last year aged 100.

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