Friday the 16th of April the ends of the earth

“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Antiques Roadshow expert ‘overwhelmed’ at Monstrance

BBC Antiques Roadshow expert Gordon Foster admitted to being surprised after a Monstrance was brought to a show.

Mr Foster said he was “overwhelmed” by the “sheer beauty” of the Monstrance, which was brought to a show in Salford Quays, Greater Manchester, before pricing it between £15,000 and £25,000.

He explained to viewers of last Sunday’s programme, that a Monstrance is used during Benediction in the Catholic Church and would be used during Communion.

The member of the public who brought the Monstrance for valuation explained that it belongs to the Catholic Church of St Thomas and Elizabeth, in Thurman near Lancaster. He said it was built in 1847/48 at the expense of the local property owner, was designed by Augustus Pugin and it initially cost a “magnificent” £65.

Mr Foster pointed out that he had mentioned “the magic word Pugin”.

“Pugin of course is perhaps best known for his work in the palace of Westminster, the gothic architecture that we know so well and of course the famous and fondly named Big Ben clock tower,” he said.

“Pugin converted to Catholicism in his 20s,” Mr Foster added before explaining that Pugin also befriended silversmith John Hardman of Birmingham and went into business with him in a partnership, “quite boldly” calling themselves Medieval Metalworkers.

“This is the sort of thing they produced,” Mr Foster said, referring to the Monstrance.

“Looking at the marks on the front here, there’s exactly what we want to see; J.H & Co, John Hardman and Company, the hallmark and then the date letter for 1848. So that’s exactly the sort of date we would want to see for it,” he said.

It was then revealed that the item is no longer used in the church, as it is kept in a box in a big safe.

Mr Foster said the “splendid” Monstrance had an “overall architectural feel” to it before pointing out the “very gothic pointed roof on the top set with cabochon or rounded cut garnets” and the “wonderful hexagonal or hexafoil leaf-shaped base” with details that are typical of Pugin’s designs.

“I would have no hesitation on putting a current auction estimate on the Monstrance of between £15,000 and £25,000,” Mr Foster said, before adding: “It’s a magnificent work of art. It’s been a great privilege to see it.”

Mr Foster later said: “It was one of the trickiest things to value in the sense that I kind of thought what Pugin would think about us making a commercial judgement on a piece that he was really making to a higher power as it were, it was made for the Church.”

Picture: BBC Antiques Roadshow expert Gordon Foster was “overwhelmed” at the “sheer beauty” of the Monstrance. (BBC/Antiques Roadshow).