Page last modified on: 22 Jan 2013
The Veere Communion Cups
In the time that Veere was the Staple Port for the trading of Scottish wool, the Scots community was given all kinds of privileges in Veere. It was also given a chapel in the Grote Kerk in Veere, and the merchants and their families formed the congregation of the first Kirk abroad to be directly linked to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at home. The first minister, the Rev Alexander Macduff, took up his charge in 1614, and in 1620 the congregation commissioned four engraved communion beakers from Isak de Cliever, silversmith in Middelburg.
Made of silver with engraved scrolls and bands, they are 6 1/4 ins high, bearing the date 1620. Communion cups and drinking vessels of this pattern were common in the Netherlands, and are also to be found in parishes in North-East Scotland, such as Old Machar. Before the Reformation, church plate was commonly imported into Scotland from the Low Countries.
On the bottom of each cup is the motto ‘Brotherlie Love is Good and Pleasant’ (Psalm 133), with a bundle of arrows held together by a girdle. Each is inscribed by a laurel wreath. Round the motto are two circular lines, each inscribed as follows: Cup 1: Scoto Veranorum factorum consonus ardor; Concording zeal off Factors at Campheir (Veere) (inner line). Cup 2: Quatuor ad domini dicat nos pocula mensam; Gevis us four coups for the Lord’s table. Cup 3: Anna ad sexcentos et mille a Virgine Matre; The Yeir off God a thousand with sax. Cup 4: Bis decimo iano mense et pastore Maduffo; And twentie in Ianuar Macduff being minister.
The complete inscription is thus divided into four parts, each cup bearing a section of it. (The Latin text of the date on cup no. 3 refers it to the ‘Virgin Mother’ rather than ‘God’).
Napoleon’s invasion put an end to the wool trade and the Scottish traders had to return home. In 1799 when the Church of Scotland congregation at Veere was dissolved, the cups passed from one of the elders to his son, whose wife confessed to the minister of Middelburg that, instead of passing them on to him as her husband had directed, she had sold them being in a state of penury. On 23rd July 1875 the four cups were offered for sale as ‘old silver’ by a firm of jewellers in the Strand, London, and were bought by Lord Egerton of Tatton, a wealthy Cheshire landowner and a Commissioner of the Church of England. He presented the cups in 1893 to Manchester Cathedral where they still reside. Occasionally they are used at services of an ecumenical nature.
Published in Church Building, May/June 1999