Above: St. Michael Staff. 1960
Silver-gilt by Leslie Durbin
If you are heading to London this summer (I certainly wish I was) you don't want to miss a rare opportunity to view over 300 magnificent objects from Britain's grandest cathedrals and parish churches which, up until now, have, for the most part, only been seen by local congregations. They are on view at at Goldsmiths' Hall through July 12, 2008. Admission is free.

There is also some exquisite jewelry!  A small collection of  medieval jewelry is on display, including a ring belonging to William Wykeham, founder of New College, Oxford and pieces from Durham Cathedral, discovered in bishops' graves excavated during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Curator, Timothy Schroder said "the exhibition is a visual record of the entire history of the English Church and it is fascinating to see how the range and design of these precious objects reflect the politics and theology of their times."

Left: Archbishop Walter's Paten (left) and chalice (right)
c. 1160. Silver-gilt
The exhibit reveals the role of the Church as a preserver of objects that could have otherwise been melted down during times of war or changes in fashion.  One of those is a secular cup, bearing the falcon badge of Anne Boleyn that is said to have been given by her to her daughter Elizabeth I, who in turn gave it to her physician Richard Masters.  Masters presented the cup to the church of St John the Baptist in Cirencester, where it has remained ever since.

Right: Alms Dish
 silver gilt, circa 1660
Christ washing the feet of St. Peter
Embossed by W Howzer From St. Georgeís Chapel Windsor 


Examples of the exuberance of high Victorian church silver are also included.  There is a highly colorful display of enameled and jeweled Victorian Gothic revivalist works, designed by architects such as William Burges and Augustus Pugin.

Church silver by the Guild of Handicrafts and silversmiths Omar Ramsden, C R Ashbee, Harold Stabler, Louis Osman and Leslie Durbin brings the exhibit into the 20th century.

The vitality of modern church silver is showcased through the talents of contemporary British goldsmiths such as Gerald Benney, Kevin Coates, Grant Macdonald, Keith Redfern, Jocelyn Burton, Brian Asquith , Alex Brogden, Rod Kelly, Michael Lloyd, Toby Russell and Jane Short who were brought together to undertake commissions coordinated and supported by the Goldsmiths' Company for the Cathedrals at Lichfield in the 1980s and at York to celebrate the millennium.

The 21st century is represented with an altar cross and candlesticks made by Michael Lloyd in 2000 and a censor completed in 2007 for Lincoln Cathedral by Anthony Elson.  These pieces demonstrates the continued patronage of the art of the silversmith by the Church.

Right: Silver Offertory Dish, 1991 by Michael Lloyd


St Chadís Cup for Lichfield Cathedral, 1991
 by Kevin Coates
Almost all of the items in the exhibition come from individual churches or religious institutions, but the "sheer brilliance of workmanship of the objects, together with their historical and social context extends its interest and appeal far beyond the confines of religion."

Accompanying the exhibit is a publication titled Treasures of the English Church: A Thousand Years of Sacred Gold and Silver, with forward by the Archbishop of Canterbury, contributions by leading Church historians and silver specialists, and edited by the exhibition curator, Timothy Schroder.  It is available for purchase at Goldsmiths' Hall during the exhibition.

For more information visit

Information and images used with permission from press brochure for "Treasures of the English Church, Sacred Gold and Silver 800-2000," courtesy of Goldsmiths' Hall.

Web design by Marbeth Schon

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