The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead

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July 2018

The Steeple Cup

Known in the V&A as a “Standing Cup” it is silver gilt and dates from 1629-30.  The cup is engraved with a coat of arms and the inscription:” The Gift of Mrs Susanna Weedon to Hamstead Church 1747”. So, a gift for the “new” church, on the occasion of its consecration in 1747.  The blurb at the V&A goes on to say “Another example of a decorative secular piece donated to a church.  Steeple cups clearly had special value even when old, as 150 have been preserved……. The chased ornament of birds, fruit and masks shows the influence of designs imported from Flanders at this period.”
It’s imposing – and big (ht 33cm, ht of cover 17.8cm, dia of cup 12.7cm and total weight 1395gr)  – so it’s hard to imagine actually using it as a chalice.  For one thing it would hold at least a bottle of wine which, as every server could tell you, would make administering said wine extremely difficult!
Susanna Weedon died in June 1763 – was she related to Thomas Weedon, who is buried in an imposing tomb not far from the main door of the church?  The inscription is so worn there’s no way of knowing.

The cup is on permanent display at the V&A but in the Silver Gallery not with the Church Silver – at the end of the gallery, furthest from the lions.

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