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Why Is There a Spoon in Britain’s Crown Jewels?

Updated May 17, 2024
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Sometimes something as simple as a spoon can be special. One such spectacular piece of silverware – or perhaps goldware, in this case – is the Coronation Spoon, used for anointing monarchs with holy oil, which is the oldest item in the United Kingdom's famous Crown Jewels. In fact, you might say the spoon is the crown jewel of the Crown Jewels, as it dates to the 12th century, while most of the other glittering items come from the 1660s. Almost all of the original Crown Jewels were melted for coinage after the English Civil War in the 17th century.

The Coronation Spoon is silver but gilded, and carved into it are what appear to be monstrous heads and scrolls. While the exact origin of the spoon is unknown, it is possible it was simply used at first to mix wine with water. It wasn't until James I took the throne in 1603 that it was used to anoint a new ruler.

Crowning achievements:

  • The Crown Jewels are on display in the Tower of London, and have been viewed by more than 30 million visitors.

  • St Edward's Crown is the centerpiece of the Crown Jewels, and is used at the moment of coronation, before being switched for the lighter Imperial State Crown.

  • The Crown Jewels were stolen for a few minutes by bungling thieves in 1672; afterward, they were kept behind bars.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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