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Communion service including a pair of cups and patens, a pair of flagons and an alms dish


Origin: London

Date: 1602-1632

Marks/Maker: Cups and patens : London, sterling standard, 1602-3, maker's mark IR, five pellets beneath. Pair of flagons: London, sterling standard, 1632-3, maker's mark of Richard Blackwell I

Heraldry: Arms of the University, incorporating, in Latin, the opening words of St John's Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God"

Deposited on loan from the University, 1968; LI.1043.6; LI.1043.7; LI.1043.9 ; LI.1043.10 ; LI.1043.11

T. Schroder (2009), no. 313

The matched communion service was a seventeenth-century innovation. This service reflects the impact of the English Reformation. The style of the pair of Elizabethan communion cups respond to the countrywide campaign to replace Roman Catholic chalices with new and 'demythologised' vessels of uniform appearance. The campaign was effectively over by about 1580, so the University cups are of slightly later design, the bowls more rounded and the foot more highly domed than the 1560-70s model. The flagon was a practical response to the restoration of the cup, which had led to a larger consumption of consecrated wine and therefore a need for special vessels to contain it. These flagons, apart their thumbpeices and finials, appear to be a direct copy of a type contemporary with the cups of 1602. Alms dishes reflected the new Protestant emphasis on charity.

Information derived from T. Schroder, British and Continental Gold and Silver in the Ashmolean (2009)

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