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Prayer book

Prayer book

  • Date:

    ca. 1553-60 (made)

  • Credit Line:

    Lent from the collections at Berkeley Castle

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:MET ANON.2:4-1998

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 57, case 10

By family tradition the book was a present from Elizabeth I to Henry Carey, (1526-1596), 1st Baron Hunsdon, first cousin of The Queen. He was the son of Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth's mother. He had a prominent career as a courtier and soldier. He played an important role in the suppression of the rebellion of the northern earls in 1570, was appointed Lord Chamberlain in 1586, and was a commissioner at the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1587. When the Armada threatened in 1588, he commanded Elizabeth's bodyguard at Tilbury in 1588.

This is one of the four Hunsdon jewels which have long been associated with Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire and have been lent as a group to the British Galleries. One of the jewels, the Hunsdon Onyx, is mentioned specifically in the will of George Carey (1547-1603), 2nd Baron Hunsdon, dated 10 May 1599.


ca. 1553-60 (made)


Length: 64 mm including suspension ring, Width: 51 mm, Depth: 19 mm

Descriptive line

Enamelled gold case mounted with a shell cameo, containing
a manuscript book

Labels and date

Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars label text:

The Hunsdon Girdle Prayer Book
About 1553–60

This small book would have been worn by a woman on a chain from her girdle (belt). The manuscript begins with the last prayer of Edward VI, who died in 1553. A staunch Protestant, Edward prays that God may save ‘thy chosen people of England’ and maintain ‘thy trewe Religion’. The prayer was recorded by his doctors and published in John Foxe’s Actes and Monuments in 1563.

Enamelled gold case mounted with a shell cameo, containing
a manuscript book
Trustees of the Berkeley Will Trust
V&A Loan:Met.Anon.2:4-1998 []


Gold; Enamel; Shell


Jewellery; Metalwork; Scotland


Metalwork Collection

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