Maundy Money | The Royal Mint

Maundy Money

Maundy CoinsThe Royal Maundy is an ancient ceremony which has its origin in the commandment Christ gave after washing the feet of his disciples on the day before Good Friday.

The commandment (also known as a 'mandatum' from which the word Maundy is derived) ‘that ye love one another’ (John XIII 34) is still recalled regularly by Christian churches throughout the world. The ceremony of washing the feet of the poor which was accompanied by gifts of food and clothing can be traced back to the fourth century.

It seems to have been the custom as early as the thirteenth century for members of the royal family to take part in Maundy ceremonies, to distribute money and gifts, and to recall Christ's simple act of humility by washing the feet of the poor.

Henry IV began the practice of relating the number of recipients of gifts to the sovereign's age, and as it became the custom of the sovereign to perform the ceremony, the event became known as the Royal Maundy.

The beginning of Maundy money

In the eighteenth century the act of washing the feet of the poor was discontinued and in the nineteenth century money allowances were substituted for the various gifts of food and clothing.

Maundy money as such started in the reign of Charles II with an undated issue of hammered coins in 1662. The coins were a four penny, three penny, two penny and one penny piece but it was not until 1670 that a dated set of all four coins appeared. Prior to this, ordinary coinage was used for Maundy gifts, silver pennies alone being used by the Tudors and Stuarts for the ceremony.

Modern Maundy money

Maundy money has remained in much the same form since 1670, and the coins used for the Maundy ceremony have traditionally been struck in sterling silver, save for the brief interruptions of Henry VIII’s debasement of the coinage and the general change to 50% silver coins in 1920.

The sterling silver standard (92.5%) was resumed following the Coinage Act of 1946 and in 1971, when decimalisation took place, the face values of the coins were increased from old to new pence.

The effigy of The Queen on ordinary circulating coinage has undergone four changes, but Maundy coins still bear the same portrait of Her Majesty prepared by Mary Gillick for the first coins issued in the year of her coronation in 1953.

Today's recipients of Royal Maundy, as many elderly men and women as there are years in the sovereign's age, are chosen because of the Christian service they have given to the Church and community. At the ceremony which takes place annually on Maundy Thursday, the sovereign hands to each recipient two small leather string purses. One, a red purse, contains – in ordinary coinage – money in lieu of food and clothing; the other, a white purse, contains silver Maundy coins consisting of the same number of pence as the years of the sovereign's age.

Locations of the Royal Maundy Ceremony

1952 Westminster Abbey
1953 St Paul's Cathedral
1954 Westminster Abbey (The Lord High Almoner officiated, as The Queen was on a Commonwealth tour)
1955 Southwark Cathedral
1956 Westminster Abbey
1957 St Albans Abbey
1958 Westminster Abbey
1959 St George's Chapel, Windsor
1960 Westminster Abbey (Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother officiated, as Prince Andrew was born in February)
1961 Rochester Cathedral
1962 Westminster Abbey
1963 Chelmsford Cathedral
1964 Westminster Abbey (Princess Mary, The Princess Royal officiated, as Prince Edward was born in March)
1965 Canterbury Cathedral
1966 Westminster Abbey
1967 Durham Cathedral
1968 Westminster Abbey
1969 Selby Abbey
1970 Westminster Abbey (Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother officiated as The Queen was in New Zealand)
1971 Tewkesbury Abbey
1972 York Minster
1973 Westminster Abbey
1974 Salisbury Cathedral
1975 Peterborough Cathedral
1976 Hereford Cathedral
1977 Westminster Abbey
1978 Carlisle Cathedral
1979 Winchester Cathedral
1980 Worcester Cathedral
1981 Westminster Abbey
1982 St David's Cathedral, Dyfed
1983 Exeter Cathedral
1984 Southwell Minster
1985 Ripon Cathedral
1986 Chichester Cathedral
1987 Ely Cathedral
1988 Lichfield Cathedral
1989 Birmingham Cathedral
1990 Newcastle-upon-Tyne Cathedral
1991 Westminster Abbey
1992 Chester Cathedral
1993 Wells Cathedral
1994 Truro Cathedral
1995 Coventry Cathedral
1996 Norwich Cathedral
1997 Bradford Cathedral
1998 Portsmouth Cathedral
1999 Bristol Cathedral
2000 Lincoln Cathedral
2001 Westminster Abbey
2002 Canterbury Cathedral
2003 Gloucester Cathedral
2004 Liverpool Cathedral
2005 Wakefield Cathedral
2006 Guildford Cathedral
2007 Manchester Cathedral
2008 St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh
2009 St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds
2010 Derby Cathedral
2011 Westminster Abbey
2012 York Minster
2013 Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.
2014 Blackburn Cathedral
2015 Sheffield Cathedral
St George's Chapel Windsor
Leicester Cathedral

Maundy money facts

  • 2017 marked the 62nd time The Queen had taken part in the Royal Maundy ritual since her accession to the throne in 1952.
  • Each year The Royal Mint produces a limited edition collection of coins for distribution by the monarch. The one, two, three and four pence coins are all legal tender.
  • A new fifth coinage portrait of The Queen was revealed in 2015, however, unlike the ordinary circulating coinage, the Maundy coins continue to bear the portrait of The Queen prepared by Mary Gillick for the first coins of her reign.
  • Today's recipients of Royal Maundy, as many elderly men and women as there are years in the sovereign's age, are chosen because of the Christian service they have given to the Church and community.
  • A hand-picked group of 91 men and 91 women from across the county will each receive two leather pouches containing Maundy money from Her Majesty.
  • During the Royal Maundy service, The Queen hands out two purses – one red and one white – to each of the chosen recipients.
  • The white purse contains Maundy coins to the value of 89 pence, while the red purse contains current coinage.