Fresh research into famous King’s Lynn cup

The King John Cup
The King John Cup

Fresh research is being undertaken on one of Lynn’s most famous and beautiful treasures.

The King John Cup is unique and takes pride of place within the civic collections on display in the Town Hall.

Now Dr Andrew Mills is taking another look at this unique cup as part of the £2.9 million plans to remodel the town hall complex, which includes the Grade I listed Guild Hall, as part of the Stories of Lynn exhibition.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has given £1,850,600 to the scheme with £800,000 coming from West Norfolk Council.

Dr Mills, along with other historians, have looked at the 31 enamelled panels which cover the 14th century cup and believes they tell the story about the search for love.

His research, which will feature in displays in the forthcoming Magna Carta 800 anniversary celebrations in Lynn, states: “Many of the scenes depict hunting; a man with bow and arrows carries a hare over his shoulder, a woman hunts with bows and falcons, and hounds chase a fox around the base of the cup.

“Hunting was an important part of medieval noble society. We know that the hunt shown here is a social occasion, as formal hunts would normally be dominated by men, but here there are as many pictures of women as men.

“Because of this, the cup also reveals something about relationships between men and women, and some people think the pictures tell a story both of a real hunt for animals and a ‘hunt’ or search for a partner.”

The King John Cup, which does not appear to have a direct connection to the infamous medieval monarch, is unique and different to other examples of cups from that era.

Very few examples of medieval cups of this age and type have survived and those that have are plain metal chalices used to drink communion wine.

But the 15 inch cup was made from silver gilt and includes the jewel coloured enamels. It was likely made for a king, prince or great baron to drink wine from at feasts or state banquets.

For many years the cup was thought to be a gift to the town from King John but it was created more than 100 years after the monarch died in Newark Castle.

It was presented to the town in 1548 by an unknown donor.

Lynn’s special connection to King John will be celebrated later this month.

He granted Lynn a special charter in 1204 which allowed the town to rule itself locally, set up a merchants’ guild and freed it from paying taxes to the crown.

West Norfolk Council has organised a weekend of entertainment to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which laid down the foundations for rights enjoyed by people today.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14. Tuesday Market Place will be hosting the range of free medieval-themed entertainment during the weekend.

A knights tournament, falconry displays, craft demonstrations, fire breathing and a proclamation by King John are some of the attractions on offer during the weekend.

The monarch reputedly lost his treasure while trying to cross The Wash and to mark this a treasure trail will be sent up around the town.

Lynn’s Tourist Information Centre at the Custom House is hosting a display on King John and the town until June 30.

Lynn Museum will also be running a host of displays along with allowing visitors to mint their own King John Pennies.

These can be used as souvenirs or to pay for a story on the Tuesday Market Place during the weekend.