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  • Place of origin:

    Toledo (made)

  • Date:

    c.1879 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Recess or cupboard, in two compartments, with two rows of shelves. Stucco decorated with arabesque ornament and inscriptions in the style peculiar to Spain in the Middle Ages & called "mudejar". Above the lower row of arches in the interior are the Spanish words, in Gothic letters: Dios: te: salve: Estrella : de : la : mannana : melezina : de : los : peccadores : reina (Hail! morning star; medicine of sinnners; queen) and on the upper band is an Arabic inscription, repeated several times in African characters - El youmnu wa-l-ikbal (Felicity and Fortune). An incomplete Latin inscription, in Gothic letters is on the band surrounding the exterior arch. This "alhacena" or cupboard, was in the court of an old house at Toledo, known as the "Casa de la Parra" and is mentioned in the local guide books as the "Botica de los Templarios" (The Templar’s Dispensary) probably because the Templars occupied the Parish of St Michael in which the house stands. It is not improbable that it was built for some apothecariy to keep his medicines in.

Place of Origin

Toledo (made)


c.1879 (made)

Materials and Techniques


Object history note

Bought 10l. 10s. from Sebastian Silla, Toledo via Señor Riano; condition "broken"
Transferred from SCP dept.12/1928(?).
Memo: there are six carved wooden brackets, which have not through mistake, been made up with the rest of the portions of the object. They are numbered 1764 a to f.
Recorded in gallery 48, possibly 1928

Descriptive line

Spanish, Toledo, 14th century. H 5' 4", W 8', depth 2' 6"

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Juan F. Riaño. The Industrial Arts in Spain (London 1890), pp. 113-5, ill. p.114
"A very interesting specimen of this combination of styles is a recess or cupboard of the 14th century, which is at the Kensington Museum, No. 1764, 71, [see woodcut] It is 5 feet 4 inches high, by 8 feet wide ; and is composed of an outer arch, with the tympani ornamented with fine arabesques in relief, made of stucco, —representing vine tendrils, leaves, and flowers, similar to those which appear in the Cosa de Mesa and other Moorish houses at Toledo. The arch is surrounded by two Latin inscriptions in Gothic characters, of which only the following words are legible + Autem transies per medium ilorum . . . . mente +. The first of these is from Sr. Luke, iv., v. 30, a passage often quoted by alchemists.
This arch serves as a portal to the cupboard, which is about a foot deep, and is divided into two compartments with two rows of shelves. Each of these is supported by a series of Moorish arches, the tympani of which are ornamented with tracery, or an ornamentation of leaves in a geometrical and Oriental manner. On the rim of the upper part is repeated the following inscription in African characters: “Felicity and Fortune." On the lower shelf are the following words in Spanish in Gothic characters: + Dios : te : salve : estrella : de : la : mannana : medicina : de : los : pecadores : reina. + “Hail ! morning star; medicine of sinners ; queen.” This “Alhacena," or cupboard, existed formerly in the court of an old house at Toledo, known by the name of “Casa de la Parra,” and is constantly called “ Botica de los Templarios, “the Templars’ dispensary, probably because the Templars occupied the parish of St. Michael, in which the house stands, and because the word “medicine” is mentioned in the inscription."

M. Rosser-Owen. Islamic Arts from Spain (London: V&A Publishing, 2010) p. 83
Fig. 76 captioned: "Woodcut of a stucco cupboard from a 14th century Toledan house known as the Botica de los Templarios, 'the Templars' dispensary', where medicine was given to the poor. (M. Rosser-Owen, 2010)."


Furniture; Containers; Medieval and renaissance


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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