I heard about the Cheapside Hoard a few years ago, and a slight obsession was born. The Cheapside hoard is a huge stash of jewellery that was discovered by workmen demolishing a building in 1912. The hoard was found beneath the cellar of a building which had been constructed in 1667, a year after the great fire of London. The new building had been built on top of the cellar of the previous building which was destroyed in the fire and the hoard was hidden for 300 years.
When the workmen discovered the hoard they gathered it up and took it to Wandsworth pawnbroker “Stony Jack” who realised straight away that they had uncovered something incredible. Eventually the hoard was secured by The London Museum and was kept a guarded secret until in was displayed in 1914.
The collection of jewels all date from the Elizabethan and Stuart eras and was buried between 1640 and 1666. The collection is amazing because of it’s size – nearly 500 pieces, and because of the massive variety of pieces within it.
The circumstances behind the hoards burial and later discovery are shrouded in mystery and very little is known about who buried it or why.
The jewels have not been displayed in full for a hundred years until now, the museum of London opened their brand new exhibition showing the entire hoard last Friday.
I had been looking forward to the exhibition for so long that I went straight there on Friday afternoon and spent a good couple of hours looking at everything and reading all the information. The exhibition is absolutely brilliant and goes into so much detail about the jewellery traid during the era of the hoard. The jewellery is displayed beautifully and in a way that you can it from every angle. They also supply magnifying glasses so that you can see everything close up.
The exhibition features paintings of people from the era which put the jewels into context and there is also a reproduction of a goldsmith’s workshop from the time.
Entrance to the exhibition is £10 so it’s not a cheap one, however I think it is worth it, and I will be going back to see it a second time.
If your around London between now and April I would definitely recommend giving the museum a visit, as all the other displays there are really interesting too especially the fashion pieces.
I decided to pick up the book that accompanies the exhibition and again this is something I’d really recommend giving a read, it’s less of a catalogue than most exhibition books but more of a well researched book in it’s own right. It covers the information covered in the exhibition in a lot more detail, and gives The Cheapside Hoard more relevance. I have found a whole new interest in the history of jewellery which I hadn’t had before.
There was a documentary on The Cheapside Hoard on BBC 4 earlier this week and its well worth a watch – you can view it on iPlayer here
Find out more about the exhibition here
Buy the book on Amazon here