Chiddingly Church Wooden Chalice

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There is a modern colour picture of the wooden chalice on a separate web page:  it has been scanned at high resolution and may take up to a minute to download.

Jill Ford of East Hoathly writes:

Some 400 years ago Chiddingly Church possessed a wooden chalice of curious design. It was made of sycamore, height 22.2cm, the bowl 15.2cm in diameter and dated 1610 on the underside of the base. The bowl was engraved in four panels with a lion standing and facing front, wearing a crown; a unicorn; an ostrich with a horse shoe in its beak, and a recumbent stag with corona, collar and chain. Also the following lines :

[these lines have been slightly edited]

O Taste what Drinke the Lord of Lyfe Doth Give:
It is his owne most Deare and Precious Bloud:
who Drinke thereof eternally shall Live:
Who worthily receive that Drinke so Good:
such as with honest and Good-heart
Do heare his word Sincerely often Preacht and read:
they Grow to assurance of salvation Deare:
the spirit of truth Doth them direct and Lead:
They feele the Power of Christes Death and Passion
Working in them the true Death of all sinne:
and the Power of his Glorious resurrection:
Raysing them UP a new Lyfe to Beginne:
to them it is A true and certayne token:
that they from Christ shall never be Broken:
Having true faith working by sincere Love:
Their Names are written in heaven above

RICHARD ALLiNN + A B xxii of October : 1610

This rare and valuable wooden chalice is now in the Cheltenham Art Gallery. But how did it get there? I have been following the trail. From the beginning of the 17th century the chalice resided peacefully in the church, maybe in the parish chest securely locked up with other church valuables, or maybe for greater security in the Rectory or in the home of one of the churchwardens.

At the beginning of the 20th century information and a photograph were published with a brief description in a booklet about the church by T Vyner Southey, vicar 1905-16, and published in 1906. The relevant portion was reprinted in Sussex Notes and Queries VII, 1939. At that time, 1906, the chalice was in the possession of Mr C Clark, 3 Cavendish Place, Eastbourne.

Correspondence resulted from this article and apparently the chalice was exhibited at a Loan Exhibition in 1925 when it was loaned by Mr T Sutton, 13 South Cliff, Eastbourne. Another letter stated "This chalice was sold at Sotheby's a few years since and was bought by Messrs Law, Foulsham & Cole. It is now in the hands of Mr Owen Evan-Thomas, 20 Dover Street, London W1 who has made a special study of these wooden cups."

There is now a gap of 37 years. In 1976 the Cheltenham Art Gallery was bequeathed the Chiddingly Chalice by one Bertie Isher, a noted collector of pewter and treen. This fine item is now on display in the 17th century gallery in the Cheltenham Art Gallery.