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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Mary Queen of Scots communion cup returns to Workington

Luck will be brought to Workington today when a unique chalice returns to the town after more than 40 years.

Mary Queen of Scots cup photo
The Luck of Workington

The chalice, known as the Luck of Workington, will be unveiled by Susan Thornely, head of the Curwen family, at the Helena Thompson Museum.

The communion cup was given to the Curwens by Mary Queen of Scots in 1568 on the last night of her freedom as a reward for their hospitality. When she handed it over, she told the town it would bring luck.

It has been in the Curwen family’s possession ever since and moved to Carlisle 40 years ago with the family.

But tomorrow it will “return home” and go on display at the popular museum.

The museum’s manager, Pat Hall, said that the chalice has been under lock and key since it arrived in October, ready for going on display.

And she added that since it returned to the town, it has already brought good luck as the new Northside Bridge, which replaced the one washed away in floods three years ago, finally reopened.

“This is the first time that it has ever left the Curwen family,” said Mrs Hall. “We are extremely honoured that Susan has agreed to let us be custodians - it’s one of those rare treasures and we are delighted to have it at the museum.”

The queen had been staying in Workington Hall as an honoured guest in May 1568. She arrived as a free woman but left in the custody of an armed guard.

It is thought that the cup was one of her few worldly possessions and was the chalice she used for communion every day.

Mary was later executed on the orders of Elizabeth I at Fotheringay Castle after spending nearly 20 years in captivity.

Mrs Thornely will present the agate communion cup, which has been insured for £50,000, to the museum at 1pm today.

It will be kept in a secure cabinet. Members of the public can visit the museum at no cost to see the chalice on Sundays to Mondays between 1.30pm and 4pm.

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