A legendary oak tankard the 'Glastonbury Grace Cup' has been placed on display at an exhibition at Glastonbury Abbey after having been loaned to them by a descendant of the Arundell family.
The Grace Cup dates from the early 1500s, and is believed to have originally belonged to the abbots of Glastonbury. The last Abbot, Richard Whiting, was hanged, drawn and quartered as a traitor and the abbey dissolved during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 under King Henry VIII. The Glastonbury Grace Cup was said to have been smuggled out of the abbey, which is when it was given to the Arundell family of Wardour Castle in Wiltshire. The family must have looked after it extremely well, even managing to save it when their castle was besieged and forced to surrender during the English Civil War, it remains in the family to this day!
A Grace Cup was passed around the table after 'grace' (a thanksgiving prayer) was said.
The Glastonbury Grace Cup (pictured above) is decorated with the 12 Apostles and the Crucifixion surrounded by birds, wild beasts and flowers. The cup is has internal vertical rows of pegs, allocating drinkers an equal measure of ale!
The exhibition at Glastonbury Abbey starts today and will continue until 31 January 2012.