For almost 300 years a buried treasure lay undisturbed below one of London’s busiest streets. No one knew it was there until workmen started to demolish a timber-framed building in Cheapside near St Paul’s Cathedral, in June 1912. The property had stood on the site since the 17th century, but the cellars were older and lined with brick.
On 18 June 1912 workmen started to excavate the cellars with their picks, and while they were breaking up the floor, they noticed something glinting in the soil below. Quickly scraping the chalky soil aside, they realized that they had struck the remains of an old wooden casket, and to their immense delight a tangled heap of jewellery, gems and other precious objects came tumbling forth. They had uncovered what is now known and celebrated as The Cheapside Hoard the greatest cache of Elizabethan and early Stuart jewellery in the world and one of the most remarkable and spectacular finds ever recovered from British soil.
As a time-capsule of contemporary taste and the jewellers’ trade The Cheapside Hoard is unsurpassed, and it remains not only the most important source of our knowledge of Elizabethan and early Stuart jewellery in England because so little jewellery of this date has survived, but also provides unparalleled information on the international gem trade in an age of global conquest and exploration.
The Hoard was acquired by the London Museum in 1912 (which merged with the Guildhall Museum to form the Museum of London in 1976).
13 Sep 2020