Archive of Transactions

An inscribed silver-gilt chape of the 16th century

Hazel Forsyth

In 1989, an inscribed chape (a protective metal cap for a belt end) was recovered from the Thames foreshore at Vintry in the City of London. It is decorated with an incised rose and pomegranate, the royal badge of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, flanking a cast, soldered-on figure of St Barbara. St Barbara was the patron saint of armourers, but was also held to be a protectress against thunder, lightening, gunpowder and firearms generally. The chape bears an inscription, which appears to be an abbreviated form of the name Ralph Felmingham, probably the man recorded as a Sergeant-at-arms at the court of Henry VIII.

This chance find, which is of exceptional interest and historical significance, can therefore be dated with some confidence to the first half of the 16th century, probably between 1509 and 1526/7. It is now in the collections of the Museum of London.

[Transactions 46 (1995), 137 – 44; abstract as published, but augmented]

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