York Minster unveils a new exhibition showcasing rare treasures from God’s own county.
A silver gilt chalice with a 32-carat diamond gifted by a circus horsewoman and a rare seventeenth-century cup crafted by a female silversmith – just some of the treasures that tell the story of Yorkshire’s turbulent past that have gone on display in a new exhibition at York Minster.
Treasures: Yorkshire’s People and Parishes feature precious and rare objects which have survived the turbulent, religious, political and social history of England’s largest county.
The exhibition opened on Saturday (21 October) and offers a fascinating glimpse into Yorkshire life, the history of York Minster and how historic collections are formed.
Kirsty Mitchell, Curator at York Minster, said:
“The parish collections in York Minster’s care are important, beautiful and can be quite quirky. They hold so many fascinating stories, we’re thrilled to be able to celebrate Yorkshire and the Northern Province in this exhibition.”
Visitors can see a silver gilt chalice set with a 32-carat diamond presented to York Minster by Lily Forepaugh, a celebrated circus equestrienne, and the dramatic damage to the pages of a fourteenth-century cartulary, alleged to have been caused by the impact of a cannonball.
Selected by York Minster’s Collections Team, other treasures from the cathedral’s historic collection of more than 300,000 pieces include a Communion cup and cover, the Mercier chalice, set with an amethyst ring: a powerful symbol of friendship and reunion, and a book gifted by King James I.
A pair of seventeenth-century enamelled brass candlesticks, the only other pair of its kind resides in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, are decorated with flowers and scrolling foliage on a background of black and white champleve enamel and there are ornate gilded altar panels and a rare seventeenth-century cup crafted by a female silversmith that belongs to Selby Abbey.
The objects are proudly local, but tell national and global stories, offering insight into the role of art and generous gift-giving in local communities. The exhibition describes the crucial role of women in shaping, using, and creating the collections as owners, publishers, patrons, and makers. A selection of books belonging to Yorkshire woman Margaret Hoby, considered to be the first English diarist, will be on rotation demonstrating this vital legacy.
Treasures: Yorkshire’s People and Parishes will be on display in the cathedral’s Treasury until February 2025,
The exhibition will open during normal visiting times and entry is included with a standard admission ticket.
Entry to York Minster is free for York residents and students with valid proof of address.