The Langdale Rosary thumbnail 1
The Langdale Rosary thumbnail 2
+13
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 10

The Langdale Rosary

Rosary
ca.1500 (made), ca. 1600 (adjusted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Rosaries were in use from the 13th century. They came in many different forms, with various ways of saying the 'Hail Mary' ( Ave Maria) and 'Our Father' (Paternoster) prayers. Their form, and the order in which the prayers were said, became standardised during the 15th century. The Langdale rosary dates from around 1500 and is the only medieval English rosary to have survived the Reformation. It is also one of the few medieval rosaries in Europe to be made of gold. The gold is enamelled. The rosary consists of 50 oval 'Ave' beads, 6 lozenge-shaped 'Paternoster' beads and a large rounded knop (knob). Each bead is engraved with two saints or scenes, with the titles written around the edges in black letter.
During the Reformation, rosaries, as part of the cult of the Virgin Mary, were frowned upon. Opposition to the Reformation in England was fiercest in remote places like Cornwall and the north of England, but it is rare for tangible evidence such as this rosary to survive.
It is exceptional to be able to link such evidence to individuals.This rosary was owned from the 17th century until 1934 by an old Roman Catholic family, the Langdales of Houghton Hall in Yorkshire. It is thought that it may once have belonged to Lord William Howard (1564-1640), third son of Thomas, 4th Duke of Norfolk (1536-1572). The Duke, a devout Roman Catholic and an ancestor of the Langdales, was attainted for treason and beheaded in 1572. The rosary has two extra beads, added around 1600. They depict three St Williams - of Norwich, of Rochester and of Maleval - and St Endellion, a little known Cornish saint. This choice of saints points to a link with Howard's friend, Nicholas Roscarrock (about 1584-1634), a Cornish Catholic and author of Lives of the Saints. Roscarrock's book includes a life of St Endellion. It seems likely that the rosary was owned by Lord William Howard and modified under his patronage, because it depicts several of his name saints as well as the saint dear to Roscarrock. Modifying the rosary would have been quite simple since medieval rosaries varied greatly and could have any number of beads.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gold, engraved; enamel
Brief Description
The Langdale Rosary, gold with enamel, England, ca. 1500.
Physical Description
The Langdale Rosary, gold, enamelled, comprising 50 oval-shaped 'Ave' beads ('Ave Maria': 'Hail Mary'); 6 lozenge-shaped 'Paternoster' beads ('Pater Noster': 'Our Father'); one pendant oblong knop. Each bead is engraved and enamelled on each side, with depictions of a saint or episode from the life of the Virgin or Christ, with the titles inscribed around the edges in black lettering. The pendant knop is four sided, and on each side are scenes from the Virgin and Child and Three Magi.
Dimensions
  • Length of rosary, including pendant oblong knop, when suspended vertically length: 39.5cm
  • Across lozenge shaped beads when rosary suspended width: 2.7cm
  • Weight: 137.9g
Gallery Label
  • The Langdale Rosary About 1500, with late 16th-century additions Each of the beads shows a saint, some 95 in all, or an event from the lives of the Virgin Mary and Christ. While reciting the relevant prayers, the user could appeal to the Virgin and saints to intercede with God on their behalf. Rosaries were banned in England in 1547, during the Reformation, but Catholics continued to use them in secret. England Gold, engraved and enamelled in black Previously owned by the Langdale family Bought with the assistance of the Murray Bequest Museum no. M.30-1934
  • British Galleries: Rosaries were used by Roman Catholics to recite a cycle of prayers of five 'decades', each consisting of ten 'Hail Mary's, separated by one 'Our Father'. These aids to personal devotion were forbidden by legislation of 1547. This very rare survival had two extra beads added in about 1600, which shows they were used by someone who continued to practise as a Catholic.(27/03/2003)
  • Gothic Two rosaries People used a rosary when reciting prayers to the Virgin Mary, or saying the Lord's Prayer. Ten beads were used for the former and one for the latter. Wooden rosaries were commonplace, but gold ones less so. This gold rosary is a unique survival from medieval England. Each bead is enamelled with a saint or a scene from the life of Christ and engraved with the appropriate title. a) Rosary About 1500 Beads of turned wood Found in London Lent by the Museum of London b)Rosary About 1500, two additional beads added probably about 1600 Gold with enamel V&A: M.30-1934 Cat. 222(2003)
Credit line
Purchased with the bequest of Captain H. B. Murray
Object history
Probably belonged to William Howard (born at Audley End, Essex, 1563, died in Greystock, 1640), third son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk (born in 1536, executed in London, 1572).



V&A Exhibition RF.2003/51
Production
Two additional beads added probably about 1600
Subjects depicted
Summary
Rosaries were in use from the 13th century. They came in many different forms, with various ways of saying the 'Hail Mary' ( Ave Maria) and 'Our Father' (Paternoster) prayers. Their form, and the order in which the prayers were said, became standardised during the 15th century. The Langdale rosary dates from around 1500 and is the only medieval English rosary to have survived the Reformation. It is also one of the few medieval rosaries in Europe to be made of gold. The gold is enamelled. The rosary consists of 50 oval 'Ave' beads, 6 lozenge-shaped 'Paternoster' beads and a large rounded knop (knob). Each bead is engraved with two saints or scenes, with the titles written around the edges in black letter.

During the Reformation, rosaries, as part of the cult of the Virgin Mary, were frowned upon. Opposition to the Reformation in England was fiercest in remote places like Cornwall and the north of England, but it is rare for tangible evidence such as this rosary to survive.

It is exceptional to be able to link such evidence to individuals.This rosary was owned from the 17th century until 1934 by an old Roman Catholic family, the Langdales of Houghton Hall in Yorkshire. It is thought that it may once have belonged to Lord William Howard (1564-1640), third son of Thomas, 4th Duke of Norfolk (1536-1572). The Duke, a devout Roman Catholic and an ancestor of the Langdales, was attainted for treason and beheaded in 1572. The rosary has two extra beads, added around 1600. They depict three St Williams - of Norwich, of Rochester and of Maleval - and St Endellion, a little known Cornish saint. This choice of saints points to a link with Howard's friend, Nicholas Roscarrock (about 1584-1634), a Cornish Catholic and author of Lives of the Saints. Roscarrock's book includes a life of St Endellion. It seems likely that the rosary was owned by Lord William Howard and modified under his patronage, because it depicts several of his name saints as well as the saint dear to Roscarrock. Modifying the rosary would have been quite simple since medieval rosaries varied greatly and could have any number of beads.
Bibliographic References
  • Maclagan, E. and C. Oman, 'An English gold rosary of about 1500' Archaeologia, series 2, vol. LXXXV, 1935. pp. 1- 22
  • Cherry, John, The Middleham jewel and ring, Yorkshire Museum, 1994, pp. 19-20
  • Lightbown, Ronald, Mediaeval European Jewellery , London, 1992, cat. no. 81, pp. 526-8
  • Campbell, Marian, Medieval Jewellery in Europe 1100-1500, London, V&A Publishing, 2009, p.84, fig.89
  • Oman,Charles, 'Belted Will Howard', Country Life, 28th May 1948
  • Brilliant, Virginia. 'The Langdale Rosary'. Catalogue entry in A Feast for the Senses: Art and Experience in Medieval Europe, ed. Martina Bagnoli. Catalogue of the exhibition held at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, October 16, 2016 - January 8, 2017 and at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, February 4 - April 30, 2017. Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum / New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. ISBN 9780300222951
  • Marks, R & Williamson, P. (Eds.), Gothic. Art for England 1400-1547, London, V&A, 2003
Collection
Accession Number
M.30-1934

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 createdDecember 15, 1999
Record URL