A rare imperial robe worn by China’s emperor 100 years ago has been discovered packed in a box.

The 19th century garment was found packed in the back of a drawer in a house in Buckinghamshire. It is now expected to fetch up to £50,000 at auction. The dragon silk blue robe was a very special garment created especially for the emperor of China.

Experts say it was only worn by the emperor for two days a year. The incredible find was discovered by the Villiers family, one of England’s most distinguished aristocratic families with historic links to the royal family dating back to the 17th century.

The robe was originally purchased in China around 1913 by Eric Hyde Villiers, who lived in China from the early 20th century until 1945 while working for Martell Cognac. The robe is said to have been a gift he brought back to England for his father, Francis Hyde Villiers. But it remained in a box packed in the family home in England for over 100 years.

Due to being kept in paper packaging and away from light, experts say it has retained its original colors and is in very good condition.

The robe is estimated to fetch between £30,000 and £50,000 when it goes to auction at Dreweatts’ Chinese ceramics and art sale on 21 May.