Lord Ashcroft’s Victoria Cross collection

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2015-06-26 10:37:44

Lord Ashcroft’s Victoria Cross collection is the largest of its kind in the world and is currently housed in the Imperial War Museum, London. Lord Ashcroft

Michael Anthony Ashcroft (1946-present) is a British businessman and Conservative Party peer.

Ashcroft started his career as a management trainee with Rothmans. He notably bought and sold companies during the 1970s, 80s and 90s, transforming their structure and selling them for large profits.

Ashcroft was a major donor to the Conservative Party in the late 1990s, and was made deputy chairman of the party in 2005.

Ashcroft has come under pressure in recent years for his business interests overseas and his tax status in the UK, according to UK newspaper the Independent.

He was made a life peer in 2000.

The collection

Lord Ashcroft began collecting Victoria Crosses in 1986 when he bought his first at an auction held by Sotheby's, London.

He paid £29,000 for the medal, which was awarded to Acting Leading Seaman James Magennis shortly after the end of the Second World War.

Lord Ashcroft’s lifelong ambition to own a Victoria Cross has been well documented. Although the 1986 purchase was intended to be a one-off, it quickly developed into an enduring passion.

His collection is now the world's largest, consisting of 152 Victoria Crosses. It is owned by the Michael A. Ashcroft Trust, set up to care for and protect the medals.

The collection spans the three British armed services (Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force) and 128 years of history, from the Crimean War in 1854 to the Falklands War in 1982.

Notable medals include five Victoria Crosses awarded to early fighter aces during the First World War, and 11 awarded after Rorke's Drift in 1879, when in approximately 150 men defended a mission station against up to 4,000 Zulus.

Other highlights include the medal awarded to Lieutenant John Bythesea, the second man to earn and receive the award, the medal awarded to Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson, who shot down the first Zeppelin over British soil, and the posthumous medal awarded to Sergeant Ian McKay, one of only two awarded during the Falklands War.

The collection is worth several millions of pounds and is now housed in the Imperial War Museum. Lord Ashcroft provided £5,000,000 to create the ‘Lord Ashcroft Gallery’ at the London Museum for their display.

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