Treasures of London – The Cheapside Hoard

February 18, 2011

It’s been described as the greatest find of Jacobean and Elizabethan jewellery ever made – an extraordinary cache of some 500 gemstones, jewellery and other related items found buried under the floor during the demolition of a building at 30-32 Cheapside on 18th June, 1912.

Now known as the Cheapside Hoard, it dates from the 16th and 17th centuries and includes neck chains, pendants, hat ornaments, cameos and rings – among the items is a gold watch set into a hinged case made from a Columbian emerald, a tiny bejewelled gold scent bottle, and an onyx cameo of Queen Elizabeth I.

Other items include unfinished ornaments and unmounted gemstones which have origins spanning the world – from Asia and Middle East to South America. While these give support to the idea that the hoard is part of a goldsmith’s reserve stock, mystery still surrounds why it was buried in the building (although Cheapside was known for its goldsmiths during the era which the hoard dates from).

The majority of the hoard is held at the Museum of London where some of the items are on display. Other items are at the British Museum and one, an enamelled gold chain, is at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The Museum of London is planning major exhibition of the hoard starting in late 2013. Stay tuned for more information.

WHERE: Museum of London, 150 London Wall (nearest tube station is Barbican, St Paul’s or Moorgate); WHEN: 10am to 6pm, Monday to Sunday; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.museumoflondon.org.uk

PICTURE: Museum of London

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