Saturday, May 14, 2011

Westminster Abbey

A little history from Once I Was A Clever Boy.
The practice at the abbey of displaying their spectacular altar plate on these occasions either on the altar or on the side of the sanctuary appears reminiscent of the way in which medieval nobles showed off their plate on grand occasions on sideboards or buffets - as in the picture of the Duke of Berry at table in the Tres Riches Heures. However I wondered if the origin of the practice at the abbey is not so much a desire to show off their treasures or wealth as such, but a memory of the pre-Reformation practice of displaying relics and statues of the saints on festal occasions. Thus at York in 1483 when King Richard III created his son as Prince of Wales in the Minster the altar was decorated with silver gilt figures of the Twelve Apostles. I do not know, but thought it possible, that, after the loss of such reliquaries and votive figures, the memory lingered that on great occasions the altar should be decorated with something in silver or gold, and in default the alms dishes and such like were displayed.

1 comment:

laughingsalmon said...

I ADORE the Abbey and attend services as often as possible when I'm in London...Pure Ecstasy...