Wiltshire church sells silver medieval chalice for £1.3m

Lacock Chalice
Image caption The British Museum said the cup was in "near perfect condition"

A silver medieval chalice donated to a Wiltshire church more than 400 years ago has been sold for £1.3m.

The cup, which dates back to the 1400s, was sold to help pay for maintenance work at St Cyriac's Church in Lacock.

On loan and on display at the British Museum since 1963, the Lacock Cup has been bought jointly by the museum and Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes.

The sale had been opposed by a local resident but a consistory court ruled the sale circumstances were justified.

"I am delighted that this beautiful and rare cup has been acquired so that it can continue to be enjoyed by visitors to the British Museum as well as in the Wiltshire Museum," said Neil MacGregor, from the British Museum.

Dating from the mid-15th Century, the drinking cup has been described as "one of the most significant pieces of secular English medieval silver".

Replicas made

Used for feasting in the medieval period, a spokeswoman for the British Museum said it was a "rare survivor with a unique history".

"Most examples were destroyed due to changing fashions and consequently few pieces remain," she said.

"It was the cup's donation as a chalice to the church that enabled it to survive."

Two replicas will be made for liturgical use at the church and to go on display at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum.

Dr John Catchpole, from Lacock Parochial Church Council, said the church was "delighted".

"The church plans to invest the proceeds of the sale to generate income to help to maintain and repair the beautiful Grade I listed church," he said.

The chalice purchase was helped by contributions from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and The Art Fund.

The Lacock Cup is to go on public display at the British Museum.

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