Who stashed the Cheapside Hoard? Exhibition sheds new light on 'most important' collection of Elizabethan jewellery ever discovered

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Just over a century after the “world’s most important” hoard of Elizabethan jewellery was discovered by chance in a cellar in London, experts have uncovered important information that may lead to unravelling the mystery of who put it there and why.

The collection of 500 pieces of jewellery, which is being brought together for the first time by the Museum of London, may have been hidden by goldsmiths heading off to fight in the Civil War which started in 1642 or fleeing the conflict abroad. It also links the treasure trove to an individual for the first time.

Hazel Forsyth, curator of the exhibition The Cheapside Hoard: London’s Lost Jewels “The intrigue surrounding this whole collection is who buried it, when and why it was buried and what it signified. Pinning down the date helps in pinning down possibly who might have put it together and speculating on what prompted them to do that.”

Click here or on "View Images" for more pictures

She continued: “There’s a lot of scope for research, and I hope the exhibition will prove a catalyst to launch it on the international stage, and get scholars from around the world -  where the gems came from - working on it. Perhaps we will get further towards answering some of the more tricky questions.”

The discovery of a gemstone dubbed the “Stafford intaglio” has allowed experts to date the hoard for the first time. The gem, engraved with the heraldic badge of William Howard, the only Viscount Stafford, narrows the date down to between 1640 and 1666.

While he may not have buried the treasure, the jeweller may well have bought up some of the family’s collection.

Ms Forsyth said: “It is regarded as the single most important find of its type in the world.” The find, which includes necklaces, rings, Byzantine cameos and a one-of-a-kind emerald watch from Columbia, has since led to documentary research uncovering much more about the people who lived in the properties where the hoard was found.

“They were all practising jewellers and goldsmiths,” Ms Forsyth said. “The likelihood is they buried it below the cellar floor because, simply that was safest thing to do.”

“One possibility is the civil war. A large number of goldsmiths and jewellers went to be soldiers and the trade was severely affected,” she said, adding others would have gone abroad.

Something must have happened to the person who buried the hoard, as they never came back for it: “Their secret perished with them.” While the buildings were destroyed by the Great Fire of London, the cellars survived.

“The gem material comes from all over the world and underlines London’s international trade network which was very sophisticated,” Ms Forsyth said.

“The hoard also shows us the technical skills and styles of cutting we’re not really able to reproduce today. Partly because of the gem material they had available but also the years of handed down knowledge and tradition.”

The hoard was found in 1912 after workmen demolished a series of buildings in Cheapside, London. The area in the 17th century was known for its jewellery shops.

The workmen hid the treasures in their pockets, handkerchiefs and caps and took it to a man called Stoney Jack. He “literally went on a pub crawl offering the work men a shilling or half a pint. It was the best thing he had ever found in investigating London,” Ms Forsyth said. Lord Harcourt, a founder of the London Museum, instructed him to buy the workers out.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished

TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable