Processional Cross thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries

This object consists of 3 parts, some of which may be located elsewhere.

Processional Cross

ca. 1850 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

This cross incorporates relics set under glass. It was supplied to Princethorpe Priory, Leicestershire, at a cost of £50, and originally had an ebony shaft so it could be carried in processions. The designer was A.W.N. Pugin, an influential architect who promoted the Gothic as the true Christian style. He based the cross on medieval Spanish or Italian models and made the Gothic quatrefoil an important feature of the design.

Object details

Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 3 parts.

  • Cross
  • Base
  • Staff
Materials and techniques
Mahogany frame, beaten silver plates and glass containing relics
Brief description
Processional cross with base, silver and mahogany, with ebony and silver staff, Birmingham, made by John Hardman, designed by A.W.N. Pugin
Physical description
Mahogany frame, silver and glass containing relics
Dimensions
  • Without wooden end height: 84cm
  • Width: 56.7cm
  • Without base mount depth: 2cm
  • Depth of mount depth: 8cm
  • With mount height: 100cm
Marks and inscriptions
No marks
Gallery label
Processional Cross This cross incorporates relics set under glass. It was supplied to Princethorpe Priory, Leicestershire, at a cost of £50, and originally had an ebony shaft so it could be carried in processions. The designer was A.W.N. Pugin, an influential architect who promoted the Gothic as the true Christian style. He based the cross on medieval Spanish or Italian models and made the Gothic quatrefoil an important feature of the design. Birmingham, England, 1850-1; designed by A.W.N. Pugin (1812-52), made by John Hardman & Co. Mahogany, silver and glass Museum no.M.107-1978(22/11/2005)
Object history
This cross was designed by the architect A.W. N. Pugin after Medieval Spanish and Italian models for Princethorpe Priory, Leicestershire. According to the records of John Hardman and Company it cost £50. It was originally supplied with an ebony staff so that it could be carried in processions. The Gothic quatrefoil forms an important ornamental device.
Historical context
The Gothic Revival
In the Victorian period a dramatic and profound change took place in religious life. Centred on a renewed interest in the Middle Ages, it affected the appearance of churches and how services were conducted. The influential architect A.W.N. Pugin promoted the Gothic as the true Christian style. Although Pugin was Catholic, his theory appealed to Anglicans of the Oxford Movement - radicals who hoped to restore pre-Reformation services to the Church of England.

The Cambridge Camden Society, founded in 1839, studied the past to identify the medieval architecture and furnishings that would be appropriate for the revived services. The society became an arbiter of style, offering an Anglicised version of the Gothic. By the 1870s some of the equipment normally found in Catholic worship, such as the ciborium, was appearing in Anglican churches.

It was not universally welcomed. Some observers found the incense, the altar cross and the emphasis on ritual scandalously 'Popish' or 'high church'.

The Gothic Revival in Europe
The Gothic revival in Europe owed more to nationalism than religious zeal. The completion of Cologne's medieval cathedral was an affirmation of German culture. In the Habsburg empire, Czechs and Hungarians similarly expressed national pride through Gothic architecture.

Champions of the Gothic claimed by the 1850s that the style was triumphant in Europe. But classical architecture remained a serious rival, even in church building. Much of the most important Gothic work was in church restoration. In Germany and France, goldsmiths like Franz Xaver Hellner supplied Gothic church furnishings.
Summary
This cross incorporates relics set under glass. It was supplied to Princethorpe Priory, Leicestershire, at a cost of £50, and originally had an ebony shaft so it could be carried in processions. The designer was A.W.N. Pugin, an influential architect who promoted the Gothic as the true Christian style. He based the cross on medieval Spanish or Italian models and made the Gothic quatrefoil an important feature of the design.
Collection
Accession number
M.107:1 to 3-1978

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Record createdSeptember 22, 2004
Record URL
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