The Studley Bowl thumbnail 1
The Studley Bowl thumbnail 2
+37
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 10a, The Françoise and Georges Selz Gallery

The Studley Bowl

Covered Bowl
ca. 1400 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is one of the earliest and finest pieces of English medieval domestic silver in existence. Its exact use is uncertain, but it is likely to have been made for eating porridge, or soup, or perhaps for drinking. Medieval diners drank from cups or shallow bowls, often with lids. These were often made of precious metal or costly glass to demonstrate the wealth of the host and to honour the guests. Some included semi-precious stones. Large cups with lids were used for communal ritual drinking at feasts. These were occasionally inscribed with mottoes or a prayer, echoing the grace that was said at the end of a meal. The Studley Bowl, which may have belonged to a child, is decorated with the letters of the alphabet.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Bowl
  • Lid From a Bowl
Materials and Techniques
Silver, engraved and chased; silver gilt
Brief Description
The Studley Bowl, a covered bowl decorated with the alphabet, silver, partially gilded, once owned by St Lawrence's church, Aldfield cum Studley, North Yorkshire, England, about 1400
Physical Description
Covered bowl,standing on a heavy foot-ring, the body and cover decorated with chased and engraved ornament. This consists of the alphabet in black letter, preceded by a cross, and followed by various literal symbols and contractions such as used in contemporary manuscripts, all springing from a leafy wreath.The letters j and w are missing. On the knob of the cover is engraved the letter 'a', the foot consists of a band of pierced circular decoration standing on a rim of twisted wire and a cast and stamped foot.
Dimensions
  • Height: 14.5cm
  • Bowl width: 14.3cm
  • Bowl & cover weight: 25.5oz
Measured for the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries
Gallery Label
  • Gothic The Studley Bowl About 1400 This is one of the earliest and finest pieces of English domestic silver in existence. Its use is uncertain, but it may have been for eating porridge, or for drinking. The alphabet in Gothic script that covers its surface suggests that it was made for a child. Silver, partially gilded Once owned by St Lawrence's church, Aldfield cum Studley, near Ripon, North Yorkshire V&A: M.1-1914 Cat. 183
  • THE STUDLEY BOWL Silver-gilt, engraved with a black-letter alphabet and conventional contractions. For a time the property of Studley Royal Church, near Ripon English; late 14th century Given by Mr. Harvey Hadden
Credit line
Given by Harvey Hadden
Object history
V&A Exhibition RF.2003/51

Lady Ripon (d. 1907) said to have been inherited; given to St. Lawrence's Church, Aldfield cum Studley, near Ripon, North Yorkshire, for use as an alms dish; sold by the church in 1913; bought by C.J. Jackson; bought by Harvey Hadden as a gift for the V&A in 1914, see nominal file RF: ' Studley, Vicar of '



Historical significance: This is one of the earliest and finest pieces of English medieval domestic silver in existence, and amongst the earliest in the V&A.
Historical context
The bowl was probably intended for porridge or similar foods. Cover and bowl are engraved with an identical inscription in two rows, separated by leafy wreaths. The inscription begins with a cross, followed by the alphabet in Gothic script and symbols that are part of abbreviations that conclude alphabets in primers for children. The child would cross him or herself before starting the primer. This act is symbolized in the cross.The bowl is beautiful and unique in form. It may have been made for a rich child to eat from.
Production
England, perhaps London
Subject depicted
Summary
This is one of the earliest and finest pieces of English medieval domestic silver in existence. Its exact use is uncertain, but it is likely to have been made for eating porridge, or soup, or perhaps for drinking. Medieval diners drank from cups or shallow bowls, often with lids. These were often made of precious metal or costly glass to demonstrate the wealth of the host and to honour the guests. Some included semi-precious stones. Large cups with lids were used for communal ritual drinking at feasts. These were occasionally inscribed with mottoes or a prayer, echoing the grace that was said at the end of a meal. The Studley Bowl, which may have belonged to a child, is decorated with the letters of the alphabet.
Bibliographic References
  • Alexander, Jonathan, and Paul Binski (eds.), Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England 1200-1400, London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1987.
  • Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547, Marks, R.and Williamson, P. (eds) London: Victoria & Albert Museum 2003, no.183, p.315
  • Williamson, Paul (ed.), The Medieval Treasury, London: V&A Publications, 1998, p. 224
  • Marks, R & Williamson, P. (Eds.), Gothic. Art for England 1400-1547, London, V&A, 2003
  • Fallow, T. M. 'Yorkshire Plate and Goldsmiths'. The Archaeological Journal, vol. 61:1 (1904), pp. 74-83 (75-76 and fig. 1).
Collection
Accession Number
M.1:1, 2-1914

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdOctober 6, 2003
Record URL