Cheapside Hoard

A salamander brooch made from Colombian cabochon emeralds and table-cut diamonds from India, set in gold. It originates from somewhere between the 16th and 17th century, when the salamander had particular symbolic significance.

Last Wed myself and the boy got a wonderful chance to go on a private guided tour of the Cheapside Hoard in the Museum of London with the ACJ (Association of Contemporary Jewellers). It was amazing! Get yourself there if it’s at all possible.
A number of pendants were found, including this delicate design depicting bunches of bright green grapes.

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The Cheapside Hoard is a collection of jewellery from the late Tudor, early Stuart times that was found in the basement of an old building in 1912 by some builders. It’s a huge collection and this is the first time it’s all been exhibited together, it’s very very impressive! So much of the gold and stones in the work would have been melted down and re-purposed if it hadn’t been hidden, so we’re really really lucky to have it. The display is really well done, not just boring look at this, now look at this etc, there is a story, especially at the start where they have a very nice intro session about the life and work of the goldsmiths in the area, the workshop is a particularly nice exhibit, and the perfume is a lovely touch 🙂

 

Another cameo, this time of Elizabeth I. Because of the style of costume she is seen to be wearing, it has been dated between 1575-1603.

 

 

No one quite knows how the hoard ended up there, they have a lot of theories but they know it was sometime after 1640 as there is one dated piece and before 1666 and the great fire when the building above it was burnt and the site rebuilt on. The pieces are also remarkably well preserved given we think they were just left in a box and ignored for almost 300 years! Although the pearls are mostly gone.

After the tour we spent about another 4 hours at the museum before museum fatigue and hunger set in. It’s a really interesting and well layed out museum, I will definitely go again, and it by far trumped the British Museum that we went to for a few hours after lunch. Word of advice, don’t go to the Vikings exhibit, just go see it in the cinema in April. We were there on a weekday in March and it was so packed I couldn’t see anything, luckily because I work part time in Cardiff museum and have an ID badge, I got in free so I just walked straight through and back out, I would have been well annoyed to have spend £16 on it!

 

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