Rare communion silver saved for Birmingham

By on 10/08/2010 in Culture, News

A rare collection of communion silver with some pieces dating back over 500 years has been added to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery collection.

And the £54,000 purchase, funded by The Art Fund, the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the City of Birmingham Museums & Art Galleries Development Trust and the Friends of Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, has boosted fundraising efforts at Castle Bromwich Parish Church for a new community centre.

The collection consists of

  • A rare pre-Reformation silver parcel-gilt paten engraved with the Manus Dei ('Hand of God') c.1450
  • A silver communion cup of 1634
  • A pair of silver flagons and standing paten by the well-known London silversmith Anthony Nelme, engraved with the inscription: 'A Gift to Castle Bromwich Chapple in the Year 1723'

The silver will initially go on display at Aston Hall (whose own history has close parallels with that of Castle Bromwich Hall) until the end of October and will then return to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

Cllr Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport & Culture, said “This is an extremely significant acquisition, not just because of the quality of the items but also because they tell us so much about the history of Castle Bromwich and pre-industrial Birmingham as a whole.

“Saving this collection has been a team effort and we're extremely grateful to all our fundraising partners - without their help we simply would not have been in a position to purchase this very important collection, which would have then been sold on the open market.”

Dr Stephen Deuchar, Director of The Art Fund, said: “This historic Anglican Communion highlights the history of the local church and also shows off the work of a leading silversmith. We're really pleased that Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery will now be its permanent home, so people can admire it for years to come.”


Notes to Editors

Photographs are available to download from the following link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/birminghamnewsroom/sets/72157624665225220/

The £54,000 was raised thanks to the generosity of:
• The Art Fund – £27,000
• The MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund – £17,000
• The City of Birmingham Museums & Art Galleries Development Trust – £10,000
• Friends of Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery £2,000

There has been a chapel in Castle Bromwich since at least the 12th Century when reference is made to 'The Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary'. The medieval chapel was rebuilt by Sir John Bridgeman, 3rd Baronet, between 1726 and 1731, probably to the designs of John White of Worcester. The inscribed flagons and standing paten were commissioned by Sir John in readiness for the construction of his new chapel. However, there is also a physical link with the two earlier items of silver as the Georgian church incorporated the structural timberwork of its medieval predecessor.

The building remained the private chapel of the manorial lords until 1878 when it became the parish church (St Mary & St Margaret).

The Bridgeman family were also responsible for the construction of nearby Castle Bromwich Hall and its extensive gardens, the latter recognised today as one of the best surviving examples of an early Georgian formal garden by the designer George London.

The Art Fund is an independent charity committed to saving art for everyone to enjoy. Click here for more information: http://www.artfund.org/about/

The MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund: The V&A has operated the Fund since 1881, helping museums, libraries and archives to develop their collections. Click here for more information: http://www.vam.ac.uk/about_va/partnerships/purchase_grant/index.html

For further information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501

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