The Lacock Cup will be on display at Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery from today as part of a British Museum Spotlight Tour. It can be seen until 10 April 2016. Visitors are invited to come and learn more about its fascinating history and to see it alongside other Medieval examples from the Nottingham collection.

Lacock Cup
The Lacock Cup with its lid off. Silver, England, 15th century.

Silver and standing at 35cm, weighing 906g; The Lacock Cup dates from the mid-15th century. It is an English silver drinking cup which has been owned by the Church of St. Cyriac in Lacock, Wiltshire, and used by its congregation for over 400 years. A stunning piece of craftsmanship, with a unique history – the cup was also used for feasting in the Medieval period.

Most examples of this type were destroyed due to changing fashions. It was the cup’s donation as a chalice to the church that enabled it to survive destruction. The cup is in near perfect condition today, despite its central role in the community, where it has been used for centuries.

Elegantly decorated, formed of hammered sheet silver, and edged with gothic motifs: the cup has twisted rope work which has been gilded. The sweeping lid and trumpet shaped foot would have drawn the attention of the viewer, as it does today.

The dual roles of this piece, as feasting cup and holy chalice, offer a window onto turbulent life under successive Protestant and Catholic monarchs. It represents changing practices, historical shifts; and both human and divine associations.

To go alongside this, three objects from Nottingham’s Collection have been chosen to give some context to the period in which the cup was used: a German salt-glazed stoneware jug from 1576 and a silver gilt maidenhead spoon dated 1535, both of which may have been used at banquets; and one of our rare alabasters from the Medieval period that would have been displayed on an altar in a church.

Councillor Dave Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said: “We are proud to be one of the few cities chosen to have The Lacock Cup on display. It is an exceptional piece of silverware which encapsulates a number of fascinating stories relating to Medieval history. I hope people will visit to learn more about the cup and its history as well as taking the chance to find out about some of the Medieval exhibits in our wonderful collections at the Castle.”

The cup is on a tour of the country comprising Salisbury Museum; Palace Green Library – Durham, and Norwich Castle Museum.

There will be a curator talk on Saturday 13 February at 2pm where visitors are invited to join Lloyd de Beer or Naomi Speakman – curators of the late Medieval collection at the British Museum, for an in depth look at the Lacock Cup and its fascinating history; as well as the other objects of this period from the Castle’s own collections. The talk is free although normal castle entry fees apply. Places can be booked at the Eventbrite websites

Copies of The Lacock Cup written by Lloyd de Beer and Naomi Speakman and published by British Museum Press are available to purchase from the Castle shop.