October 12, 2008
According to some experts, the beautiful and ornately decorated glass cup known as “the Luck of Edenhall” dates back to the 13th century Syria. Still, there are others that believe this enchanted cup is from a different world entirely. Whatever its origin, it is truly a marvel, not only for the fact that it is an incredible example of ancient glass making, but because it has survived the test of time unscathed. Many think the Luck of Edenhall fared so well due the leather case that was custom made to hold it in the 14th century, while others tend to lean toward more mystical reasons for the cup retaining its original brilliance.
Although its early history is untraceable, many believe that this rare artifact was brought back from the Holy Land by a crusader. The cup received its name roughly 230 years ago, when the Musgrave family of Edenhall, in Cumberland, gained possession of it. It's actual origins were long forgotten, until word began to spread that the Luck of Edenhall was, in reality, once a fairy cup.
Many talented writers such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, have sung the praises of the Luck of Edenhall but the first known mention of the artifact was written by Sir William Musgrave himself in 1791. In telling his story, Musgrave 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!"
It appears that his descendant, Sir George Musgrave, took heed of the fairy's warning. His young god-daughter wrote of her time at Edenhall in a journal entry in 1844, detailing Musgrave's extreme efforts to keep the cup safe. According to her, Musgrave made his children stay out of the room while the cup was being shown and kept it safely behind an iron door and stone wall and then placed it into a special tin box, to prevent fire from ever harming it.
The fairy cup remained at Edenhall until 1926, when it was loaned to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum officially acquired it in 1958, and it is still on display today in the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries. Edenhall no longer exists, however, having been demolished in 1934. It does make one wonder if Edenhall's fate would have been different, had the cup remained in residence.
The rare beauty of the Luck of Edenhall stands as an illustration of just how breathtaking objects of the fairy may be. Surely, the fact that this fairy cup has remained completely intact and untarnished by the effects of time and the distance it has traveled can be a testament to its enchantment. The fact that each of the owners who possessed the goblet experienced luck and prosperity only further lends credibility to the fairy tale, and makes the Luck of Edenhall a truly remarkable piece of fairy history.
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