Elizabeth I Silver Chalice


Stock: 9853

Date: 1569

Maker: Henry Sutton

Country: England

A rare early English chalice dating to the reign of Elizabeth I. A very early date and in very good...

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A rare early English chalice dating to the reign of Elizabeth I. A very early date and in very good condition. This cup follows the standard design for Elizabethan communion cups and is most likely to have been made from pre-reformation silver. With straight tapering sides, slightly flared at the top, and would originally have had a cover (paten). Hand beaten finish as you’d expect at this date. The single hatched band of decoration is well executed and the definition is very good. Around the top rim are 3 engraved marks and one of these has the date “1600”. The foot wire has stamped ornament of tongue and dart, typical of the period, and applied wire ornament to the stem.

Contains 380 ml.
Weight of chalice 292 grams, 9.3 troy ounces.
Chalice dimensions – height 18.2cm, diameter of top 9.8cm.
Extremely good silver marks for London 1569.
Maker “HS” is possibly the Henry Sutton listed in Jackson’s Gold & Silver Marks as a known maker of communion cups.
Sterling silver.

Marks. Stamped on the rim with a full set of English silver hallmarks – very clear. Henry Sutton’s makers mark, featured in a large photo on page 98 of Jackson’s for a chalice made in 1570-71. The variation in the shape of the shield and the size of the “S” could be due to this 1569 chalice having an earlier mark of Sutton’s.

Literature: Most parish churches in existence at this date would have had a chalice very similar to this. During the Reformation there was a return to a simpler, more direct form of worship. Protestants rejected the Roman Catholic belief in ‘transubstantiation’, the transformation of bread and wine during the Mass into the body and blood of Christ, and proposed instead a symbolic service of shared communion. In this, the congregation would regularly take wine as well as bread, whereas before they had been chiefly spectators.
The church authorities launched a programme from about 1560 to replace the ‘old massing chalices’ with ‘decent’ communion cups of prescribed design, such as this. The programme for refashioning old chalices was staggered from diocese to diocese over a period of about 15 years. The large and remote Welsh diocese of St David’s was one of the last to adopt the new form of communion cup.

Signed/Inscribed: *There are no precise records of silver makers marks prior to 1681 as all records were destroyed in the fire at Goldsmiths Hall in that year when the Assay Office and apartments of the Assayer and Clerk in the south west wing of the building were burned down.
From 1697 onwards Goldsmiths Hall has preserved a complete record of workmen’s marks, addresses, together with their names and the dates. Sometimes the details of makers can be discovered from old records such as the inventories of noble houses and other institutions.
The first surviving record, after the fire at Goldsmiths Hall, is the 1682 copper plate made to start the recording process again. This has recently prompted a study by Dr David Mitchell, supported by Goldsmiths Hall, resulting in the publication of his 2017 “Silversmiths in Elizabethan and Stuart London”. This reference work identifies previously unknown makers marks and assigns marks struck on existing plate to individuals (attributions for 540 separate marks).


The condition is very good. The engraving still has good definition.

Maker Information

Maker: Henry Sutton

Henry Sutton, London silversmith. Working circa 1670-75. Maker of communion cups.

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