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Presented by State Library Victoria

The Luck of Edenhall

So much of Chess’s story centres around the Luck of Edenhall, and what she might be able to do with it. I thought I’d do a little research into the real Luck of Edenhall, housed at the V&A, and provide some background on it for other history nerds like me.

 

The Luck of Edenhall was originally created in the 14th Century (1301-1400) somewhere in Syria or Egypt. It arrived in Europe sometime in the 15th century and was housed in a stiff leather case. It is believed that having the glass in such a case it what allowed it to survive for as long as it did. This case had the IHS symbol on it (a Christian religious symbol) which historians believe was placed on the leather case to protect the glass. It was passed down through generations of the Musgrave family of Edenhall, Cumberland. Stories of the 11.1cm-15.8cm beaker tell of how it brings luck and prosperity to the owner, hence the name. It should also be noted that there were many other possessions in other Northern-English wealthy families that were also called “Lucks”.

 

Although old stories about the glass suggest that it made it’s way to Europe in the loots acquired from the Crusades, once the age of the glass was estimated, it was realised that this could no be so (as the Crusades ended in the 13th Century). This means that part of the story of the Luck of Edenhall is not known.

 

In a gentleman’s magazine in 1791, Revered William Mousey of Bottlesford wrote:

Tradition our only guide here, says, that a party of Fairies were drinking and making merry round a well near the Hall, called St. Cuthbert’s Well; but being interrupted by the intrusion of some curious people, they were frightened, and made a hasty retreat, and left the cup in question: one of the last screaming out;
“If this cup should break or fall
Farewell the Luck of Edenhall!”

 

The Luck of Edenhall has also had many other pop culture references including being used as a band name in the late 80’s, and being mentioned in lots of other books. Further, in the mid-19th century, American poet Henry Wadsworth wrote about what he thought would happen if the Luck of Edenhall was to break, feeding the superstition around it.

As the goblet ringing flies apart
Suddenly cracks the vaulted hall;
And through the rift the wild flames start;
The guests in dust are scattered all,
With the breaking Luck of Edenhall!

In storms the foe with fore and sword;
He in the night had scaled the wall,
Slain by the sword lies the youthful Lord,
But holds in his hand the crystal tall,
The shattered luck of Edenhall.

8 comments

inky State Library Victoria

It's a real thing???? I didn't know that! Thanks for researching this. It's fascinating (yes, I'm another history nerd like you!)

2w ago
lauraamabel

Thanks inky, it really is fascinating. I'm loving that so much of this story is connected to real people and places. : )

2w ago
lozza

I LOVE history!

2w ago
lozza

Not the subject at school of course... That is, the history of Australia... My class at school had to study that topic for five years in a row!!!!!!! ANNOYING! :)

2w ago
lauraamabel

In reply to lozza

Me too! History (the actual stuff, not the sanitised memorisation that is inflicted upon us at school) is super interesting!

2w ago
imosshelf

This is so cool?? Good on you for researching it!

2w ago
lauraamabel

Thanks! <3

2w ago
bookreader

That's really interesting!

2w ago