Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Chalice sold by church for £1.3 million medieval chalice donated to a Wiltshire church over 400 years ago has been jointly purchased by the British Museum and Wiltshire Heritage Museum in the market town of Devizes.

The £1.3 million raised will help pay for vital maintenance work at St Cyriac's Church in Lacock, and the chalice will remain on display at the British Museum in London where it has been on loan since 1963.

"I am delighted that this beautiful and rare cup has been acquired so that it can continue to be enjoyed by visitors to the British Museum as well as in the Wiltshire Museum," says Neil MacGregor of the British Museum.

Dating from the mid-1400s, the chalice has been named "extremely rare" and "one of the most significant pieces of secular English medieval silver".

Its sale was opposed by a local resident in Wilshire, who claims the cup is a vital part of the village's heritage, but his appeal was denied.

A spokeswoman for the British Museum said the cup is "a rare survivor with a unique history".

It would have been used for feasting in the medieval period but was eventually donated as a chalice to the church, which ensured its survival.

"Most examples were destroyed due to changing fashions and consequently few pieces remain," the spokeswoman explains.

Dr John Catchpole from Lacock Parochial Church Council said the church is "delighted" with the sale.

"The church plans to invest the proceeds of the sale to generate income to help to maintain and repair the beautiful Grade I listed church," he said.

Two replicas will be made; one for liturgical use at the church and another to go on display at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum.

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