Thursday 21 June 2012

Gold: Power and Allure ... 4,500 years of gold treasures from across Britain – Free Exhibion!

Happy 30th Birthday Prince William and enjoy your day with your wife, family and friends in Anglesey ... a quiet celebratory interlude between army duties and the formalities of royal life.

Yesterday I went up to Goldsmiths’ Hall to see an Exhibition the Goldsmiths’ Company are hosting in association with the World Gold Council.  The press had given it a golden glow – and it was free ... an opportunity not to be missed.

Anglesey coastline

Prepared to be dazzled – and should you be in the London area ... please get to see it – just north-east of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The two Princes had established a charitable foundation in 2009, of which the Duchess of Cambridge is now a Patron – as the three of them share similar charitable interests – and the Foundation in conjunction with the Goldsmiths’ Company is supporting those in need.

The Gold Irish Lunula,
c.2000 - 1500 BC

The assembled collection is the most comprehensive and ambitious exhibition ever staged at the Goldsmiths’ Hall, and tells the rich and previously untold story of Britain and gold, demonstrating the country’s unique golden heritage.

It features more than 400 gold items ranging in date from as early as 2,500 BC to the present day, including rare and exquisite works of art, pieces of exceptional historic significance and others which are esoteric, curious and amusing.

Gold and Garnet pendant brooch
- Canterbury collection c 7th C
Anglo-Saxon burial site

All the exhibits displayed over three floors at Goldsmiths’ Hall have been loaned from distinguished institutions and private collections and many have rarely been seen in public before.

St Vedast's Churchyard - now
courtyard with bench seats

I walked past the Church of the Guild, St Vedast’s, which had a lovely little courtyard away from the hustle and bustle of the City outside ... where I ate my lunch ...

The range of objects is incredible – some are predictable, from golden chalices and baptismal fonts, to a mechanical mouse, the Middleham Jewel, a 15th C diamond shaped pendant inset with sapphire and blue enamel ... recent Anglo-Saxon finds – the Staffordshire Hoard – to lunulas circa 2,000 – 1,500 BC.

Gold and pearl mechanical mouse c 1810

This is unlike any exhibition you have ever seen before or are ever likely to see again.  It looks at gold in Britain via its many facets – geological, historical, scientific, monetary, artistic and symbolic, and it is full to bursting with beautiful things and curious facts.

'M' brooch mid 14th C

With 100 different institutions and private collections lending to this show – this is a golden mass convergence ... this metal that means so much, that has changed the course of history ...

As The Daily Telegraph’s Richard Dorment states ... ‘an exhibition about gold could have been a lugubrious trawl through the vaults ... but it is the wit and high spirits of this show that makes it so much fun’ ...

Gold Court Jerkin for the coronation of
George 1  (1714)
Where else would you see a gold and pearl mechanical mouse from 1810, a gold tea pot, a 21st C gold handkerchief and a hat of woven gold wire thread ... or an oak tree in leaf, complete with tiny caterpillar and snail?

This engaging, educational, thought-provoking, awe-inspiring exhibition illustrates, that, even today, this most precious metal has the power to captivate audiences with its universally mesmerising allure.

Golden threads
I will come back to this Gold Exhibition as there are some truly wonderful tales to tell ... and for those of you who can visit before July 28th – please do ... and for those who can’t visit I hope you can get a feel for these golden declarations of workmanship through the ages ...

Some wording taken from The Brochure for the Exhibition and The Telegraph (Richard Dorment;

An article and short video (2.20 mins) can be seen here at the Evening Standard - well worth a look.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


D.G. Hudson said...

Wish I were over there, Hilary, this looks like a fantastic exhibition. The mechanical toys they made centuries ago are nice to see. Who doesn't like shiny gold?

Thanks for sharing and another lesson in how to see England. You make me want to see London and its areas more than ever.

D.G. Hudson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Friko said...

I'd love to be able to get there, but sadly won't. These objects are wonderful, when you consider how long they have been around, it is quite miraculous that they are in such good order.

Beautiful examples of the goldsmith's art; man has wanted to decorate himself and his world for as long as he/she has been around.

Inger said...

You make me want to go to a museum! A gold hankie! I would have loved to see this exhibit, but reading about it is certainly good too. And I had forgotten the prince and I have the same birthday, albeit many years apart! Have a great day ~~ or I should say evening.

Sara said...


I missed this exhibit and I think I would have enjoyed it.

The weather in London wasn't very cooperative when we were there. We even dared to visit Brighton and almost got blown away...literally! Still, we had a great time and ate wonderful food. It was like visiting different countries in one city...London:~)

My only wish is that the mice I encountered upon my return could have turned into the beautiful gold mouse you pictured in this post. I think I would have been a lot happier!

I hope the sun shines where you are soon:~)

Anonymous said...

Hilary, so good to be back on your blog! Long time no see/speak.

That sounds a very interesting exhibition and a very Happy Birthday to William. I know that he and Kate have gone to meet/see the Dalai Lama today in his 10 day visit to the UK.

How have you been? I wish you well in all that you do. I now blog at a new place, and you are more than welcome to stop by and always welcome too.

Hope your having a beautiful start of Summer xx

Diane said...

What a great exhibition, I would love to have seen it. Prince William 30, where do the years go, it seems like yesterday that Charles and Diana got married. So much water under the bridge since then!!!! Diane

Lynn said...

Oh my - it seems only yesterday that Prince William was born. I'm old!

Loved seeing the exhibition items - thanks for sharing with us.

Old Kitty said...

Sounds like a great exhibition to see!!! And at St Paul's too!!! And that gold mouse is just amazing - does it still work I wonder?? Take care

Jo said...

What a fabulous exhibition Hilary, thanks so much for telling us about it. I have linked with your blog on mine talking about this exhibition. I would love to be able to see all the fabulous objects on display. Guess I'm jut too far away LOL. Lucky you.

Rosaria Williams said...

Amazing! I guess the wealthy had all sorts of use for their currency when they were not paying for a war or embarking on an expedition.

Al said...

What an amazing exhibition!
Reminds me of a couple down this way that I would like to get in to see.

Juliet said...

Hilary, this sounds so exciting. I feel like jumping on a plane to London. But, next best thing, is to send the link to your blog to my friend Anne who lives in Winchester, and I'm sure she will jump on a plane to see the exhibition. I love the Irish Gold lunula (that's a new word for me), and the gold and pearl mouse is a delight (pearl pimples!). Thank you for the way you bring English history to life, yet again. I feel more connected with Britain since discovering your blog.

Heather Murphy said...

These are beautiful pieces. One of these days I would love to visit London. So much to offer!

cleemckenzie said...

I'm always so charmed by antiquities that have survived the years. My husband's family has some fabulous things--only from the early 1900's, but they still are so special.

Love the mechanical mouse.

Birdie said...

How the heck did he get to be 30? And I covet that mechanical mouse!

A Lady's Life said...

Oh I love that mouse!! Its so cute.

Happy Birthday to Prince William!!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ DG - it is quite amazing .. and those automatons are extraordinary in their workmanship -- shiny gold - I'd be happy with more! Hope you'll make the visit over again sometime to see the sights of London town ..

@ Friko - yes, I know you would love this exhibition .. just sorry you won't get to see it. Gold of course doesn't tarnish .. and so if found can be cleaned up, repaired and ready for show ..

All the examples they've got on show are just beautiful .. as you describe ..

@ Inger - yes a gold hankie .. it's exquisite .. sorry you can't pop over from California to see the Exhibition - just so worth it.

Happy Birthday though for yesterday - I'm sure William would have loved to have shared a cake with you!!

@ Sara - well you've had one wonderful holiday .. then we could have met earlier! - I'm only a few miles along the coast from Brighton.

It's a brilliant exhibition .. sorry that you missed it ..

The weather still is not co-operative - London is such a wonderful eclectic mix of all - ancient and modern, all nations ..

Your micies incident was a bit much .. glad it's sorted ..

I hope the sun shines soon too and that wind dies down!

@ Ana - glad you've got a new internet place, but good to see you back.

I'd heard that the Dalai Lama is here - but it sorted of scooted me by - so must check again: thanks for reminding me ..

We could do with a quiet benign summer ahead!

@ Diane - you'd have loved this exhibition .. and as you say 30 years have passed us by --- that is some water!

@ Lynn - thankfully a few of us join you as the years go by - I'd hate to be getting old by myself!

Glad you enjoyed seeing a few of the items ..

@ Old Kitty - I hope you can get up to see the Exhibition .. it's not far for you. The automaton mouse does still work .. scampers across the table!

@ Jo - thanks for the link. As I could get up to London I just had to see this showing .. sorry you can't make it.

@ Rosaria - that was it - gold is malleable and so lots of choices - and the wealthy creatively made good use of it ..

@ Al - good to see you again .. I hope you can get to your Aus exhibitions .. glad you enjoyed this posting though ..

@ Juliet - what a great idea .. I sure hope she can get up to see this wonderful display. I think she'll jump on a train to visit .. (not a plane!) ..

Those Lunulas are quite beautiful - all the exhibits are quite extraordinary in one way or another ... the gold and pearl mouse is very captivating isn't it ..

Just so pleased you enjoy the visits here ..

@ Heather - I hope you can get to see London - there's always lots going on .. just this year so much so ...

@ Lee - beautiful antiquities are lovely aren't they - I'm glad you've got some via your husband you can treasure.

The mouse is the favourite isn't it!

@ Birdie - sadly .. the same way 30 years have passed us by .. it only seemed yesterday Prince William was born doesn't it ...

Another mouse fan ...

@ A Lady's Life - that mouse again .. I hope Prince William had a good evening .. pretty foul weather I think ..

Cheers to you all .. it's exceedingly windy again today and lots more rain due - our British Summers!! Have lovely weekends .. Hilary

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I'm never giving up my dream to visit the UK. Never. Meanwhile, it is so wonderful to see these extraordinary places through your blog. Very special, indeed. Thanks, Hilary. Best to your mum.

Li said...

Amazing how gold has played such an important part in the history of mankind.

Unknown said...

I just love that golden mouse. Stunning. And the gold thread, what craftmenship.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joylene - that sounds a good idea - never ever give up .. it'll be good to see you here. But am delighted at least you get a flavour of what's going on here via the blog ..

Thanks for the wishes to my Mama - she still sparkles at times, which is great.

@ Li - lovely to see you .. as you say gold has always been around .. even here in our British history.

@ Clarissa - it is pretty isn't it .. and the firm that works the golden thread is still going strong for over 100 years ...

Good to see the three of you - cheers Hilary

Bish Denham said...

The gold mouse and the brooch from the 7th century are stunning. This is an exhibit I would love to see.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Wowza! That gold mouse reminds me of the story of the Nightingale-- when they make the mechanical jeweled bird. What an amazing exhibit!

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,
An amazing collection and I would like to get my hands, I mean, I would greatly enjoy seeing such visions of wonder.
The Staffordshire Hoard was on at the Potteries Museum in Hanley, Stoke on Trent. Sadly, I missed the opportunity.
On a side note, I'm very puzzled as to why your comments are not showing up on my site. However, I do thank you kindly for your warm interaction.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend and try to stay dry!

Sherry Ellis said...

What an amazing exhibition! Thanks for sharing those pictures.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bish - such a worthwhile venture if you can get to see it.

@ Amy - I had to look up the Nightingale reference .. and I see it's a Hans Christian Andersen tale from his "New Fairy Tales" re the singer Jenny Lind "Swedish Nightingale" .. and wisdom found in life.

@ Gary - I'm sorry you missed the Staffordshire Hoard when it was in your area - I thought they'd kept some of the pieces.

I'm still puzzled why my comments don't appear on your site, and on one or two others .. it's very strange - at least you get them via email, better than nothing ..

This weather is terrible .. and we're wet today ..

@ Sherry - glad you enjoyed this gold post!

Thanks so much for visiting - see you soon .. Cheers Hilary

Anonymous said...

oh! How have I lived without a gold and pearl mechanical mouse! :-D

This is some exhibit, Hilary -- wow.

Anonymous said...

oh! How have I lived without a gold and pearl mechanical mouse! :-D

This is some exhibit, Hilary -- wow.

Anonymous said...

So fascinating, Hilary. Imagine the security needed to collect, maintain and return all these fabulous pieces. Since I don't watch telly - I was not aware of this exhibition so thanks for the post!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Kat .. think about little mouse squeaking out from amongst your wonderful home foliage ..

It is an amazing display ..

@ Amy - yes I didn't think about security .. except when I was on the way round .. but it is the Goldsmiths' Hall - and they'd have the full works I'm sure.

Glad you enjoyed the post - always amazes how far the blog reaches ..

Cheers Hilary

Coral Wild said...

Thanks for showing us some of the wonderful exhibits Hilary. What an amazing experience it must have been to see them "live".
Gold certainly has an eternal attraction , doesn't it?

Martha said...

Wonderful! I wish I could be there to see it in person!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Coral - it is quite extraordinary the range of objects that were on show, while the information re gold is extremely interesting ..

Eternal attraction - absolutely through the aeons ..

@ Martha - I'm just sorry everyone can't get to London .. but sadly that's life! Glad you enjoyed seeing it here though.

Cheers Coral and Martha - we have a sunny day! - a golden rarity .. I'm going to enjoy it! Hilary

Francene Stanley said...

This sounds fantastic. Britain at its best. I'm fascinated by old jewellery. I've written nine books about ancient Egyptain jewellery. This makes me want to switch to English.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Francene - so interesting to read you've written about ancient Egyptian jewellery - you must have so much wonderful knowledge.

This exhibition is truly amazing - just wonderful to see .. so much history to British gold ..

.. why not switch or add to your repertoire of jewellery knowledge ..

Great to see you here - thanks .. Hilary

Denise Covey said...

Hilary, as always a well-presented, thoughtful post. Sorry I can't pop over to see the exhibition, but I'm going to Fiji instead, lol! I'll be seeing gold in the form of golden beaches...


Lisa said...

Hello Hilary, I apologise for not visiting a while. I can't believe it has been 30 years because I can still remember the anticipation of the birth clearly. I was in high school. And the exhibit sounds interesting. I had never been to London. Maybe someday :)

Anonymous said...

I like to look at anything gold, especially really old stuff. We saw King Tut's exhibit in Los Angeles a few years back (although King Tut's tomb was returned to Egypt because it got damaged and we didn;t get to see it.

But the exhibit was still worth the price of admission as there was no shortage of gold artifacts to study.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Oh, wow. I would have loved to have seen this. Impressive.


Suze said...

I don't know that I'd call a mechanical mouse predictable -- that took me by surprise!

Hilary, I really enjoyed your comment on yesterday's AB post. I think the title of your blog is very consistent with your spirit.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Denise .. many thanks - lucky you going to Fiji .. I think I'd have missed the exhibition too! Golden beaches sounds just glorious ..

@ OceanGirl .. no worries - I think I can't comment on your blog with the new set up .. waiting for William's birth - seems amazing to us now 30 years on. Definitely get to London sometime .. we'd love to have you visit!

@ Steve - I didn't make the effort to see King Tutankhamun back in the 70s when it was in London - I think I probably should have queued. Glad you enjoyed the LA exhibit - must have been mesmerising ..

@ Sia - it's still on --- if you'd like to fly over!!?? It was great .. and very impressive ..

@ Suze - I guess my grammar misled me! You're so right none of it is really predictable .. except perhaps the challices and goblets ..

Thanks so much for your comment re my half-filled glass - it's definitely not half-empty ... appreciate your thought on this ..

Great to see you all - thanks Hilary

Karen Lange said...

It sounds wonderfully interesting. Since I live in the states with no plans to come to London soon, I will have to experience this through you. :) I enjoy this kind of thing and would definitely go otherwise. Thanks so much!

Have a great week,

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen .. I know - but it's just great to know about .. as so much is happening here this year ..

You too - have a good year and glad we've caught up .. cheers Hilary

Empty Nest Insider said...

I too am mesmerized by the golden mouse! I wonder if he would've scared off the sneaky mice who invaded our house! Goldsmiths' Hall is filled with wondrous golden treasures! Thanks for brightening my day Hilary! Julie

jabblog said...

It sounds wonderful, Hilary. I watched the video - inspiring.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Julie .. I've a huge picture of the pearl studded golden mouse sitting looking at me .. she (?) is quite beautiful.

Ah ah you say he is a he .. he would definitely outshone any of your grey uninvited house ones!

@ Janice - it is a wonderful exhibition - perhaps you can get up to see it? Glad you enjoyed the video ..

Delighted to read this both inspired you - thanks so much .. cheers Hilary

Juliet said...

I meant to say 'train' of course, since my friend is in Winchester! I let her know and she might come up and visit.

Unknown said...

I'm late getting here but so glad I finally made it. What a wonderful post, Hilary. I must see if I can get to visit Goldsmiths' Hall.

That mouse is wonderful - such fun! I was surprised by the M brooch. For some reason, I thought initial brooches and pendants were a modern thing. Fascinating to see this one from the 14th century. Thanks for sharing!

Robyn Campbell said...

Hilary this is an awesomely wonderful exhibition! Oh my! I would go again and again! So much to see. I am seeing it through your eyes, which I love to do. You describe everything perfectly. We are coming over, but it won't be that soon. *sigh* Plane tickets are so expensive right now. It would cost four of us nearly $7000.00 to fly over right now. xoxo

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Gosh, what an incredible exhibition. My childhood was spent in gold mining towns because my Dad was a miner, I worked on a gold mine for years, my nephew and brother in law still in mining...when you look at these treasures you know why man goes to such lengths to get the gold out of the ground! :)

You must have had such an interesting time there, Hilary!

Judy, South Africa

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Juliet - thought you might have realised: train v plane!

@ Shirley - I do hope you can get down .. it's only on til the 28th July.

The M brooch - I'm not sure if it's just a description for Medieval ... I'll check if I go again.

@ Robyn - I would love you to be here within the month .. so you could see the exhibition .. just glorious. Still glad that you are coming over sometime 'soon' .. - it's not cheap and then you're here with things to do .. all cost (sadly!).

@ Judy - yes you'd relate to some of this - but it's about British gold .. and not a lot about the mines as such .. the book has more on the history from Neolithic and Roman times.

South African mines are deep .. but interesting to go down and see the workings of today - though I wasn't that comfortable.

Thanks Juliet, Shirley, Robyn and Judy .. it is an amazing exhibition .. cheers Hilary

Liara Covert said...

You are certainly an inspirational tour guide. Never a dull moment.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liara .. it's hard keeping up at the moment! Lots happening - I've mentioned to a few friends and they're looking at getting up to the Exhibition ..

Certainly not dull - cheers Hilary

Liara Covert said...

Love all the golden examples you share here. Also apprecaite idiomatic expressions about gold like "thy heart is golden" (pure). How many arise in yoru mind?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liara .. as far as actual gold is concerned - fool's gold springs to mind - because I always remember Pyrites ..

"All he touches turns to gold" .. a lucky person

"All that glisters is not gold" - Shakespeare ..

I'd rather think of gold as golden - bringing warmth and love to the beings it touches so they compassionately spread its value to many.

Cheers Hilary

MorningAJ said...

What a pity I'll have no chance to get there before the end of the month. I'd have loved to have seen that.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi AJ .. just seen your comment here - sorry it was just after my mother passed on and life went on without me realising you'd visited ... thanks for your comment though - it was a wonderful exhibition. Cheers Hilary