Easter: Queen hands out Maundy Money

Maundy Thursday is a day in which one of Britain's many unique and eccentric ancient ceremonies is carried out.

Maundy Money is a special British (external - login to view) coinage given to deserving poor people in a religious ceremony performed by Anglicans (external - login to view) on Maundy Thursday (external - login to view), the Thursday before Easter (external - login to view).

These coins, known as Maundy money (external - login to view) or Royal Maundy, are distributed in red and white purses. This custom dates back to King Edward I (external - login to view). The red purse contains regular currency and is given in place of food and clothing. The white purse contains currency in the amount of one penny for each year of the Sovereign's age. Since 1822, rather than ordinary money, the Sovereign gives out special Maundy coins (external - login to view).

So the Queen hands over 81p in the special Maundy money - which has values of 1p, 2p, 3p, and 4p - to each of the 81 men and 81 women as she is 81 years old this month. Next year she will give each man and woman 82p.

She also gives each of them a newly minted 5 coin and a 50p coin.

Queen distributes Maundy coins

As the Royal couple walked out they were greeted by crowds

The Queen has handed out Maundy Money to 162 pensioners in an Easter church service ahead of her 81st birthday.

She gave 81 men and 81 women two purses, filled with coins, at the ceremony at Manchester Cathedral.

One purse contained 81p in freshly minted Maundy coins marking the Queen's forthcoming 81st birthday.

The second purse held a 5 coin commemorating her diamond wedding anniversary and the centenary of the scouting movement.

It was the first time this service has been held in the city.

The special Maundy coins. As the Queen turns 81 this month she gave 81 men and 81 women 81p each in Maundy coins plus a newly-minted 5 coin and 50p coin each.

'Great honour'

The recipients were all retired pensioners recommended by clergy and ministers of all denominations in recognition of service to the church and the community.

Among them was Bill Birchby, who said he was "surprised but delighted" to be attending the event.

The 87-year-old, from Bolton, said: "It will be a great honour to meet the Queen - she's a wonderful person."

The ceremony is in a different place every year

As the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh stepped out of the cathedral they were greeted by cheers and clapping as the bells rang.

After the service the royal couple took a short walk to a reception at Chetham's School of Music before attending a lunch at the town hall hosted by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Manchester.

The Maundy Service dates back hundreds of years and until the 18th Century the monarch would also wash the feet of the poor selected to receive the coins.

The origin can be traced to the Last Supper when, as St John recorded, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Afterwards Jesus gave the disciples a command or "mandatum" - the Latin word from which Maundy is derived - to love one another.

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Maundy money is presented to recipients in red and white purses
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Every year at Easter The Queen presents special 'Maundy money' to local pensioners in a UK cathedral or abbey.

The presentation takes place on Maundy Thursday in recognition of the service of elderly people to their community and their church.

The selection is co-ordinated by the diocese (regional Church of England authority) hosting Royal Maundy that year.

The number of recipients is related to the Sovereign's age: in 2006, there were 80 male and 80 female recipients at Guildford Cathedral for the Maundy service attended by The Queen.

Maundy coins have remained in much the same form since 1670. They have traditionally been struck in sterling silver, except for the brief interruptions of Henry's Vlll's debasement of the coinage and the general change to 50% silver coins in 1920. The sterling silver standard was resumed following the Coinage Act of 1946.

In 1971, when decimalisation took place, the face values of the coins were increased from old to new pence.

The effigy of The Queen on ordinary circulating coinage has undergone three changes, but Maundy coins still bear the same portrait of Her Majesty prepared by Mary Gillick for the first coins issued in the year of her coronation in 1953.

The Royal Maundy service used to take place in London, but early in her reign The Queen decided that the service should take place at a different cathedral every year.

The Queen has distributed Maundy on all but four occasions since coming to the throne in 1952.

In a centuries-old ceremony, some 1,000 guests watched as the Queen handed out Maundy money at Manchester Cathedral

The annual Easter service, steeped in medieval pageantry, reminds Christians to take care of the poor. It is the first time since its origins in the 12th century that the ceremony has been held in Manchester

The Yeomen of the Guard, or Beefeaters, carried the traditional purses with Maundy coins on alms dishes above their heads. The Queen distributed specially minted silver coins to 81 men and 81 women, chosen because she will be 81 at her next birthday on April 21

Each recipient got 81p in Maundy coins, a special 5 coin celebrating the diamond wedding anniversary of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on November 20, and a 50p coin marking the centenary of the Scouting movement

Until the 17th century, the practice also included the monarch washing the feet of their subjects, as Jesus did at the Last Supper. But the Queen did no such thing - it was only mentioned in the reading. The last British monarch to actually do so was James II

Last edited by Blackleaf; Apr 5th, 2007 at 01:44 PM..
81p for 81 poor people. I imagine some people'd find that a little bit of a rub-of-the-nose-in-it

the five pound coin is a bit better though. There's a couple of meals in one of those.
Good to see such practices still in use. Western society has gone to Hell in a handbasket but certain traditions and institutions persist. I like the idea of the royal family and I like the idea of maintaining a connection through Canada to it. Multiculturalism might be an imposed nuisance but we do have a heritage here and I like to see stories like this celebrating monarchy there.
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