A CEREMONIAL trowel which was gifted to the Duke of Cambridge at the start of construction on Colchester Town Hall has been returned to the borough.

The finely-engraved object was acquired at auction earlier this year thanks to the support of the Friends of Colchester Museums and Colchester High Steward Sir Bob Russell.

Commissioned by architect John Belcher, who won the competition to design the building, it was made by Mappin and Webb and presented to the Royal in 1898.

Colchester mayor Nick Cope hosted a special ceremony to mark the return of the historic item.

He said: "On behalf of the residents of Colchester, I would like to thank the Friends of Colchester Museums and Sir Bob Russell for their care and generosity in securing the trowel’s safe return to the borough and permanent display in the town hall.

“It is almost providential that the trowel should have reappeared after all these years, so soon after the restoration of the town hall foundation stone to which it is so closely connected.”

Sir Bob added: "This is a wonderful addition to the collection of memorabilia on display in the Grand Jury Room.

"The engraved trowel is an important part of the story of the building of our wonderful town hall, and to have it returned to the building is very special."