The Will Bureau
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One hundred years ago (September 21 1915) this week a man, Cecil Chubb, paid £6,600 on a whim for a rather large and unusual present for his wife. The present was Stonehenge.

His wife was not best pleased with the present; she could think of many other things she would have liked for £6,600 (around £680,000 today) so, three years later, Cecil gave the gift to the public in a special ceremony. In his deed of gift, Chubb requested that the site to remain as open as possible specifying that the public should pay no more that ‘a sum exceeding one shilling’ (just over £3.00 today) to visit and that local folk should be able to visit for free.

English Heritage, who now run the site still allow some local people free entry, however, the others pay quite a bit more than £3.00 – current entry is £14.50!

Before Cecil Chubb bought the site, Stonehenge had been privately owned since Henry VIII had confiscated it from the church.

But these gifts – i.e. the gift from Cecil to his wife and then to the public – are not the most unusual gifts ever given.

Unusual Gifts

In 1835, a dairy farmer from New York state who had heard that President Andrew Jackson enjoyed cheese, sent him a 1400 pound wheel of the stuff.

The cheese sat for two years with only a minimum amount being consumed until, in 1837 the President made a gift of it to the people – within two hours, around ten thousand people had eaten the lot!

But it isn’t just the presidents of earlier centuries that receive unusual gifts. In 2013, His Excellency Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa, President of the United Mexican States, gave a ten-inch black wooden coyote suspended in metal display box alongside a Coca-Cola bottle decorated with beads with liquor inside a locked chest, and two shirts with cufflinks to President Obama.

And, it isn’t just the Americans who receive them. Royal gifts to Buckingham Palace in 2014 included mangoes, dried beef and tins of fish.

Gifts You’d Love to Receive

In 1969, actor, Richard Burton bought Elizabeth Taylor a 69.42-carat diamond. When they divorced, however, she sold the diamond and used the proceeds as a gift to Botswanans buy building them a hospital.

Portuguese football agent, Jorge Mendes married, Sandra his long-time partner on August 2nd 2015. But Jorge was agent to striker, Cristiano Ronaldo, who is true celebrity football-player style bought the couple an entire Greek islands worth millions.

Fifty-five year old cop, Robert Cunningham was a regular patron of Sal’s Pizzeria in Dobbs Ferry, New York City. He was friendly with the waitress there, Phyllis Penzo. One day, on an impulse he suggested that instead of a tip they fill out a lottery ticket together.

The ticket was a winner!

The policeman was true to his word and his gift; he called Phyllis at 9:00am to tell her she and he were to split $6m. At first she didn’t believe him – well, it was April 1st!

Gifts in Wills

As lovely as it is to receive a gift, the question of whom to bequeath that article when one dies may still be tricky.

However, in a Will, it is possible to write a clause so that the Executors are given all personal belongings and they can then divide these personal items as per a ‘memorandum of wishes’.

A memorandum (or letter) of wishes provides executors with the knowledge of to whom to distribute the personal items of the deceased. Simply leaving the items to the residuary beneficiaries (i.e. those who will inherit the majority of the estate), leaves the risk that some articles which may have significant personal value to some members of the family will, instead, be overlooked and sold. Or, the more strident family members may command they be given the more expensive articles.

A memorandum of wishes can be easily and regularly updated whilst the person making their Will is still alive to reflect changes in circumstances without the cost or trouble of rewriting the entire Will – which would otherwise have to be done whenever an item was lost, sold or gifted in their lifetime.

Writing Your Will

If you have been given a gift that you would wish for a particular family member to receive on your death, or if you would like to know more about including such a clause in your Will, please give us a call and we will happily chat through your options with you. We can be contacted on: 020 8920 3360, or by email at:

Alternatively, why not visit our website:

In the meantime, have you ever been given a wonderful or weird gift? Leave us a comment and let us know.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Adele Jameson