June 14, 2019 11.46 am This story is over 29 months old

Lost 19th century jewelled chalice found at Lincoln Cathedral

It was mislabelled in storage

A lost nineteenth century jewelled chalice was found during an audit of Lincoln’s Cathedral’s extensive collections.

The chalice was designed by William Butterfield, a leading Gothic Revival architect and designer in 1887.

The discovery was made as part of the Lincoln Cathedral Connected project, which is made possible by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Research from the Connected team found the chalice in storage in the Cathedral’s collections, where it was previously wrongly catalogued as belonging to Bishop Edward Lee Hicks. He was Bishop of Lincoln between 1910 and 1919.

Butler Chalice drawing. Photo: Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

The jewels adorning the chalice, including turquoise, amethyst and opals, are believed to have belonged to the wife of Dean William Butler, who served as Dean from 1885 until his death in 1894.

The chalice, along with an accompanying small silver dish known as a paten, were gifts to the church from the Dean and ‘Friends of the Cathedral’. It is believed to have been specifically made to be used at Easter in 1887.

Records show that the chalice was valued at the time and was deemed to be worth more than £4,000 in today’s money.

The team noticed that part of the chalice was missing. The small golden scroll work with four turquoise stones was found a few weeks later in a box mislabelled as a button.

Two Episcopal Buttons. Photo: Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

Other artefacts found as part of the research audit include an extremely rare 12th century seal matrix and a 400-year-old ‘Clock Jack’, which is a wooden knight believed to have once been part of a clock at the cathedral.

The items will be displayed alongside other artefacts at Lincoln Cathedral’s new visitor centre, which is due to open in 2020. It is currently being designed by Edinburgh-based design specialists Campbell & Co.

Fern Dawson with the seal matrices.

Collections and engagement officer at Lincoln Cathedral Fern Dawson said: “The chalice and the other fascinating finds have not only given us a glimpse into the past, but have also helped us to better understand the history of the Cathedral – one of Britain’s most extraordinary landmarks.

“It’s also been an exciting time at the Cathedral as we recently appointed Campbell & Co to design the exhibition space and Treasury where these artefacts will be displayed. The designs are already looking great and we can’t wait to see the finished space.”

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