The history of the Royal Maundy service dates back to the time of King Edward the Confessor (1042-66), a Christian religious event held annually on Maundy Thursday, the day preceding Good Friday at Easter.
Part of the service involved the distribution of alms, which evolved over the centuries as monetary gifts distributed by the monarch or their deputy to a select group of elderly people.
In modern times this has evolved into a tradition of giving a monetary reward in pence equalling the age of the ruling monarch to a number of men and a number of women each equalling in total number the age of the monarch.
The four denominations for the maundy money sets have been issued since the time of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603), but only became more purposefully distributed as sets from the time of the Restoration of King Charles II (1660-85) when various undated hand-made sets, and dated sets of the four coins were issued by minting machinery from 1670 onwards.
The now familiar look of the design of the maundy coins was established in the reign of King George IV (1820-30) from 1822 onward, though at this time the service was carried out by deputies to the monarch. It was only when King George V (1910-36) came to the throne that the tradition of distributing the Royal Maundy by the Monarch himself was revived, and the succeeding Kings and our current Queen have religiously observed this tradition and attend the annual service each year.
Our current Queen started the new tradition of changing the Cathedral City location of the service each year since her first distribution in 1953, though some have been repeated over her long reign, the longest of any monarch in our history.