Court Barn Museum acquires a Tower of London commemorative goblet

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Court Barn Museum has acquired a silver goblet, designed by Robert Welch, which commemorates the 900th anniversary of the founding of the White Tower at the Tower of London in 1978. The goblet, made in parcel silver gilt, was commissioned by HM Government (the then Department of the Environment) in a limited edition of 50. The acquisition was made possible by grants from The Art Fund and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

The original concept was that it should be made using techniques entirely reliant on handwork. Each goblet was hand raised and finished by John Limbrey; Welch remarked that: ‘It was just as well that 1978 was not a busy year in the Campden workshop.

Welch’s design for the goblet emphasised the historical background of the Tower of London. The lobed base was inspired by a medieval chalice and the Gothic lettering cut on a hatched base around the cup was directly taken from the medieval Studley Bowl (one of the earliest and finest pieces of English domestic silver in existence and now in the collections at the V&A). However the finished effect with its elegant lines and the simple depiction of the White Tower gave the piece a contemporary feel and a simple elegance very different from the majority of commemorative pieces.

Through his career Welch took on a number of slightly off-beat commissions which resonated with his own beliefs about the importance of good design in everyday life and the role that design could play in supporting traditional craftsmanship and protecting jobs. This commemorative piece can be seen as part of the same inspiration. It represents his attempt to show that it was possible to produce a worthwhile and honest commemorative piece.

Sarah McCormick Healy, curator, says “This is an unusual and enchanting piece from one of the craftsmen we celebrate at the Museum. The design and making of this commemorative item raises issues about the relationship between hand and manufactured work and the problems of creating a limited edition using only hand techniques.” The goblet will be on display from Thurs 7 March.


Court Barn Museum, Church Street, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, GL55 6JE

Admission charges
Adults £4; Concessions (students, senior citizens) £3.25; Children under 16 are free

Opening times
April – September: Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 – 5pm
October – March: Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 – 4pm
Closed Mondays (except Bank Holidays). Please check the website for Christmas/New Year opening times.

About Court Barn Museum
Court Barn Museum is an independent museum. The museum was created through the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and monies raised by the Guild of Handicraft Trust.
The Museum tells the story of how a small town, in a beautiful setting, became a gathering place for creative people at the start of the 20th Century and continues to attract designers and makers today. Highlights include work by C.R.Ashbee, F.L Griggs and Katharine Adams.

About V&A Purchase Grant Fund
The V&A Purchase Grant Fund is a government fund that helps regional museums, record offices and specialist libraries in England and Wales to acquire objects relating to the arts, literature and history.
It was established at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 1881 and continues to be part of its nationwide work..
The annual grants budget, currently £750,000, is provided by Arts Council England (ACE). Each year, the Purchase Grant Fund considers some 200 applications and awards grants to around 100 organisations, enabling acquisitions of over £3 million to go ahead.
Visit the website:

About The Art Fund
The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art, helping museums and galleries across the UK to acquire great works of art and develop their collections, and encouraging the public to make the most of all there is to see. Over the past five years we have given £24 million to enable over 200 museums, from ancient sculpture and treasure hoards to Old Master paintings and contemporary commissions, and supported a range of programmes which bring art to wider audiences. We also work with collectors to help place gifts of art in suitable museums and galleries. We are independently funded and the majority of our income comes from 95,000 members who, through the National Art Pass, enjoy free entry to over 200 museums, galleries and historic houses across the country as well as 50% off most major exhibitions. For more information please go to

About Robert Welch
Robert Welch grew up around Malvern where he established his business. He studied at Birmingham School of Art’s renowned department of Jewellery and Silversmithing and from 1952 at the Royal College of Art in London. His period in London also included formative visits to Sweden and to Norway where he worked with the designer Theodore Olsen. He leased the top floor of the Silk Mill in Chipping Campden, the former workshops of C.R. Ashbee’s Guild of Handicraft.

From the start Welch worked on commissioned items, mainly in silver, produced designs for domestic stainless steel, and worked for a range of companies worldwide as a product designer. This balance between hand and machine is at the core of his work.

Source: Court Barn Museum

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