And the answer is that it is Dutch tulip vase given to Royal Ashdown Forest by members of the Royal Hague Golf Club in recognition of 25 years of friendship fostered through the annual mixed foursomes match played between the clubs since 1989.
The first match, played at Ashdown, was to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the ‘Glorious Revolution’ in November 1688 when Protestant William of Orange overthrew the Catholic King James II, in a bloodless coup.
Over the years the annual contest has evolved into an event of far greater significance than a mere golf match. No fewer than five Royal Hague members have joined Ashdown, firm friendships have been forged to the extent that over the years there has been reciprocal attendance of funerals and memorial services. The current score in the matches, that varies from between 14 and 20 a side, stands at RAFGC 17 against eight to KHGGC.
At this year’s dinner to celebrate the 25th anniversary and lasting friendship between the clubs, the members of the Hague presented Royal Ashdown Forest members with the vase which is a copy of the Royal Delft tulip vase that stands in the Rijks museum in Amsterdam. The vases most likely had a fresh tulip sprouting from each vent. Delftware is always blue and white and has been produced around Delft since the 16th century.
Current RAFGC match manager, Robin Meyer, said, ‘ The gift of the vase represents the finest traditions of mixed golf and all the fun that occasions such as these matches between two famous old clubs, can foster. It stands as a respectful tribute from one of Europe’s most famous and prestigious golf clubs to our club and its members.’
For those unfamiliar with Royal Hague GC, it is the oldest in Holland and one of the most prestigious clubs in mainland Europe with members having included Queen Beatrix and the Crown Prince. Currently standing at number three in the European order of merit and despite being two miles inland the Harry Colt design gives the course the feel of a classic British links.