Monday, January 26, 2009

Reliquary or salt cellar ?

Affabel Partridge (fl.1554-79).
Reliquary c.1551
The Poor Clare Nuns of Much Birch, Hereford

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London presently have on display "The Poor Clare's Reliquary" (above).

Scholars are divided as to whether:

1. it was made as a reliquary or a salt cellar;
2. was it made by the Royal Goldsmith Affabel Partridge, at a time when Catholics in England were being persecuted

In 1737, the vessel was given to the Poor Claes in Rouen. In 1741 it was made into a reliquary to house relics given to the Convent in Rouen by James Stuart, the Old Pretender.

It is thought by some that Partridge may have intended the vessel to be a reliquary but disguised it as a salt cellar to throw the anti-Catholic authorities off the scent.