Maundy money | The Royal Mint

Maundy money

The Royal Maundy is an ancient ceremony, inspired by The Bible. On the day before Good Friday, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and commanded them to ‘Love one another’. By the thirteenth century the Royal Family was taking part in similar ceremonies. By washing the feet of the poor and giving money and gifts, they were showing humility and compassion.

When Henry IV became king, he introduced a new tradition, deciding to give the same number of gifts as his age. So, for instance, when the monarch was forty, he gave forty of his subjects Maundy gifts. It became the custom for the sovereign to perform the ceremony, and the event became known as the Royal Maundy.

The origins of Maundy money

The first Maundy money ceremony took place in the reign of Charles II, when the king gave people undated hammered coins in 1662. The coins were a four penny, three penny, two penny and one penny piece. By 1670 the king started giving out a dated set of all four coins.

The tradition of the king or queen washing the feet of the poor faded out in the eighteenth century, but the monarch still gave people food and clothing. By the nineteenth century the tradition had changed again, and the monarch simply gave people the Maundy money.

Maundy money today

Maundy money has traditionally been made of sterling silver, apart from the brief interruptions of Henry VIII’s debasement of the coinage and the general change to 50% silver coins in 1020. The use of sterling silver resumed following the Coinage Act of 1971 and after decimalisation in 1971, the face values of the coins were increased from old to new pence.

During Her Majesty The Queen’s reign, her portrait on ordinary circulating coinage has been updated four times. However, Maundy money still bears the same portrait of Her Majesty created by Mary Gillick that appeared on the first coins of her reign in 1953.  

Today’s recipients of Royal Maundy are elderly men and women, chosen because of the Christian service they have given to the Church and the community. The ceremony takes place every Maundy Thursday. There are as many recipients as there are years in the sovereign’s age.

At the ceremony, the monarch hands each recipient two small leather string purses. A red purse contains ordinary coins, while a white one contains silver Maundy coins, amounting to the same number of pence as the years of the sovereign’s age.

Locations of the 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
2016 St George's Chapel Windsor
2017 Leicester Cathedral
2018 TBC
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