Timmy the tortoise, thought to be Britain’s oldest resident, has died aged 165 The ancient creature is believed to have been born in 1839 — two years after Queen Victoria took to the throne.

He lived most of his life in luxury with the 10th Earl of Devon and his descendants, who were in mourning yesterday. Hugh Courtenay, the current Lord Devon said: “We’re all extremely sad — we’ll miss him dreadfully. He was always here.”

Timmy spent his first 40 years as a ship’s mascot, witnessing action in the Crimean War and the bombardment of Sebastopol. In 1892 he was taken by an ancestor to the Devons’ family seat, Powderham Castle, Exeter. He became popular with visitors when he was not hibernating in a wysteria bed.

Aged 80, he was introduced to a female tortoise, but showed no interest in mating. He was, however, known to have amorous feelings towards the earl’s wartime helmet — dubbed Timothy’s Boyfriend.

Timmy was around when the first postage stamp was issued, for the unveiling of Nelson’s Column and the invention of the telephone.

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