James II's coronation cup, by unknown maker, 1685

Silver-gilt cup and cover, about 1685. Museum no. M.34:1&2-2008.

Silver-gilt cup and cover, about 1685. Museum no. M.34:1&2-2008

 

Illustration from Francis Sandford's account of James II's Coronation, 1687.

Illustration from Francis Sandford's account of James II's Coronation, 1687.

This cup commemorates the coronation of James II on 23 April 1685. It was made as an heirloom for the Draper family of Winchelsea, who held official positions during the ceremony.

The cup is made from silver melted down from one of the pole mounts or stave mounts, and one of the bells which supported and adorned the coronation canopies. The cup has also been coated in a thin layer of gold.

The canopies were traditionally carried by the Barons of the Cinque Ports as a symbol of the role that they played in defending king and country. The five ports - Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich, and later, Winchelsea - were granted privileges by the king in exchange for supplying ships and men to protect England's vulnerable southern coastline.

 A contemporary account of the Coronation of James II by Francis Sandford, 1687, illustrates the procession with canopies supported over the King and Queen by the Barons of the Cinque Ports.

The barons received a number of perks for their loyalty. Not only were they invited to dine at the table to the right of the King and Queen at the Coronation Banquet, they were also entitled to keep the canopies, bells and poles after the ceremonies. At the coronation of George IV there was apparently a scuffle between the Barons and those that would rob them of their treasures. It was quite common for royal gifts of silver to be refashioned into commemorative heirlooms.

A great deal of silver was used for the coronation ceremony. The Jewel House Delivery Book records that three days before the coronation of James II, Sir Benjamin Bathurst received 'Twelve Large Canopy staves, crowned with silver 6 for his Majties & 6 for her Majties Canopy' weighing in all 369 ounces and 10 penny weights [11.49 kilograms]. Bathurst also received '8 gilt Bells 4 each Canopy' with a combined weight of 61 ounces and 15 penny weights [1.91 kilograms].

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