Tattered scraps turn out to be flag from Battle of Waterloo

Could be incredibly valuable

Updated: 

Gary Lawrence age 58 with his Waterloo flag. See National copy NNFLAG: A military antiques collector has discovered one of the last remaining flags from the Battle of Waterloo in a shoe box. Gary Lawrence bought the collection of items through an online auction and found fragments of the flag, which dates back 200 years. He is now restoring the flag, which belonged to the Coldstream Guards 15th Light Company, with a team from the V&A museum. The 58-year-old runs Waterloo Militaria with his son Luke, and says he has never found anything this historically significant.

A military antiques collector from East London has discovered that the tattered rags he bought online are actually the remains of a flag from the Battle of Waterloo.

Gary Lawrence, 58, runs Waterloo Militaria with his son Luke, and bought a shoebox full of flag fragments in an online auction for £500.

He says he realised that the fragments belonged to an early flag, but had no idea of their significance; he'd bought them because old cloth was often in demand.

The world's weirdest auction items

But after spending three days piecing the flag together like a jigsaw, he discovered that it was the regimental colours of the Coldstream Guards 15th Light Company, dating back to 1815.

"It's more important because it's from the battle of Hougoumont, and barely any flags from that battle survived," he tells ITV.

"Nothing else we've found could ever compare to how important this flag is - everyone's saying this is such an important find. It's almost a national treasure, this is such an important battle."

Battle of Trafalgar Union Jack goes up for auction

Gary and Luke are now working with restorers to mount the flag on semi-transparent material, after which it will be sold.

"I would love to keep it but it's just too big - it's seven foot by seven foot. It's going to go into an auction; we've already had some of the big auction houses interested," he says.

"I'm not sure who will buy it, it could be a museum or a private collector, but I would love it to stay in England or go to the Hougoumont museum."

Flags this old are incredibly rare - and sometimes incredibly valuable. One surviving flag from the Battle of Trafalgar, for example, sold for more than £300,000 in 2015.

Bosworth flag piece up for auction

And even a six-inch square from a flag flown at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 was valued at £5,000 four years ago.

Mr Lawrence says he believes his new discovery may be just as important as the Trafalgar flag.

"That flag was on a rear ship and was just a Union Jack, whereas this is their regimental colours with their battle honours on it, and was at the most important part of the battle," he says.

10 incredible auctions

10 incredible auctions