Currently displayed in the Guildhall Art Gallery is a very rare medieval object that’s not normally put on show. It is a crystal sceptre, presented to the City by King Henry V, in gratitude for loaning him 10,000 marks (£6,666).
Thanks to the City’s generosity, the loan (worth about £3m in today’s money, albeit with more buying power), Henry managed to fund an army that captured Harfleur and, of course, win a stunning victory over the French at Agincourt, exactly 600 years ago.
The sceptre only comes out on display when the new Lord Mayor is installed at the Silent Change, which takes place in the Guildhall on the second Friday in November, or at coronations. In the 17th century it was very nearly lost forever. Fortunately the Corporation hid the object during the Protectorate and it was rescued from the Great Fire by the Lord Mayor, Sir Thomas Bloodworth.
Measuring just 43cm long, the sceptre was made in Paris and London between about 1380 and 1420. It is made of rock crystal, gold, sapphires and pearls. The crystals were probably carved in Paris, as were the crown of lilies and crosses. Set with pale blue sapphires and rubies from Asia, the shaft is also decorated with natural pearls sourced from Arabia.
The royal coat of arms are the ones adopted by Henry V in 1406, with the lilies of France and the lions of England. The central boss is an accurate replacement of the original, which was damaged in the 1830s.
You can see this amazing object until December 3rd, along with the Hedon Mace, another fine object presented to the citizens of Hedon, Lincolnshire by Henry V, when he visited the town in 1421.