CHALICES AND PATENS

The collector of domestic plate rarely includes cups or chalices and patens or plates in his cabinet. These are to be found in our museums, and many old cups and patens from ancient churches are to be seen in the splendid collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum. There, too, are several cases filled with rare jewelled cups and wonderful relics of church plate, the gradual changes in the form of the cup being apparent. We learn from the Guide to the Mediaeval Room in the British Museum that during the seventeenth century the chalice was very elaborate. It was a cup with large foot, knop and stem and small bowl, the work of silversmiths who wrought for their patrons who presented these chalices to Mother Church in great numbers. Then came the Reformation, and that altered many things, most of all perhaps the mystic practices associated with the mass. The celebration of the Sacrament and consequent distribution of the elements to the laity necessitated the use of a larger cup, the outcome of which was the plainer communion cup to which we are still accustomed in Protestant churches. All these changes are apparent to any observant on-looker who chooses to spend an hour in the galleries in which this rare plate is so well arranged. We now come to the patens which at one time were merely covers to the chalices. Many pairs complete may be seen in the South Kensington Museum galleries ; there, too, are many examples of engraved patens, such as the Dolgelly paten, which with the chalice belonging to it is represented in our illustrations, Figures 33, 34 and 35, which are indeed choice pieces. In Figure 35 will be seen the legend in the centre reading " INNOMINE PATRIS ET FILM ET SPIRITUS SANCTIUM," embellished with an episcopal figure in the act of pronouncing the Benediction. In Ireland, too, there are many fine pieces of church plate, and patens of rare decoration. Many of these pieces, especially the larger ones, are inscribed, such for instance, the Irish flagon illustrated in Figure 32, reproduced by the courtesy of the Director of the National Museum of Ireland, which is inscribed " For the Parish Church of Inniscracent." All these beautiful examples of ancient plate are, however, more for the connoisseur of the silversmiths' art to admire in our museums than to collect. The " Home Connoisseur " sees them in such places, he also has opportunities of viewing them on those rare occasions when plate belonging to the older cathedrals and churches is on view. Some of the churches in England are rich in antique plate. In some instances it is retained in the custody of the parish, but more frequently deposited in museums and other places of security, for strange as it may seem,

FIGS. 37, 38, 39 AND 40.-CIVIC MACES (In possession of the Mayor and Corporation of Cardiff, reproduced by the courtesy of the Town Clerk.)

FIG. 36.-SIXTEENTH CENTURY SILVERED-PEWTER EWER OR FLAGON. (In the Victoria and Albert Museum.)

there have been frequent robberies of church plate and many valuable pieces hitherto kept in more or less insecure plate chests and safes have been removed to safer storage. The wonderful collection of plate in the London Museum has been added to recently, and the rooms in which it is so tastefully displayed are well worth a visit. _Among the recent additional attractions are twenty-two pieces of ecclesiastical silver plate which have been placed on permanent loan by the rector, wardens and parochial church council of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. These splendid pieces are English work of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and are mostly silver-gilt. There is a fine chalice hall-marked in 1649 and another dated 1726. A fine pair of silver-gilt flagons bear the London hall-mark of 1634. In Timb's Curiosities of London, published in 1828, there is a full list of London churches of note, and many references to the old plate, most of it then in actual use ; reference to a few of these will serve to show the value of these rare examples of ancient cups, patens, flagons which have survived the losses to which so many of the churches have in the past been subjected at the hands of careless custodians. At St. Pancras, King's Cross, the ancient plate, a considerable quantity of which was hall-marked 1638, was lost but rediscovered in 1848. That, indeed, was a joyous find ! The silver-gilt communion plate at St. Paul's, Knightsbridge, is said to be very massive.