A Maundy meeting with the Queen

Eileen Roberts
Eileen Roberts
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It dates back 700 years, yet Maundy money still needs some explaining.

The Queen performs the pre-Easter tradition of handing out commemorative cash to the elderly for the first time in Lancashire next month.

But apart from a welcome chance to see a much-loved monarch, the purpose of her visit will draw furrowed brows from many of her subjects.

A hand-picked group of 88 men and 88 women from across the county will each receive two leather pouches containing Maundy money from Her Majesty at Blackburn Cathedral on April 17.

Among them are a number from the Garstang and Longridge areas who are pictured above.

It will be the 59th time the Queen has performed the historic ceremony since her accession to the throne in 1952.

Previous queens and kings have done it since the 13th century.

Edward I began it all during his reign from 1274 to 1307. From then on monarchs have marked Maundy Thursday –when Jesus met his disciples for the Last Supper – with an act of service to the poor, usually in Westminster Abbey.

Up until the abdication of James II in 1688 that act of service not only included the giving alms, but also the washing of the feet of commoners, just as Christ had washed the feet of his followers the night before his crucifixion.

In 1822 George IV replaced the ordinary coinage with specially-made Maundy money.

And that practice has continued for almost two centuries up to today.

Each year the Royal Mint produces a limited edition collection of coins for distribution by the monarch. The one, two, three and four pence coins are all legal tender. Between 1,600 and 1,900 sets are made, with many being snapped up by collectors.

During the Royal Maundy service, the Queen hands out two purses – one red and one white – to each of the chosen recipients.

The choice of 88 men and 88 women this year reflects the monarch’s age. The white purse will contain Maundy coins to the value of 88 pence, while the red purse will contain a £5 and a 50p coin.

The 176 retired people, all over the age of 70, who will be in Blackburn Cathedral to meet the Queen have been selected by clergy and minsters of all denominations from all parts of Lancashire in recognition of their service the church and the community.

The recipients attended a “Maundy Lecture” in the cathedral to prepare them for the service on April 17.

From the Royal Household the Lord High Almoner, the Rt Rev John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, told them: “It will be a wonderful and historic day. It will be a day of great celebration of Christian service, with Her Majesty being the model of leadership through service.

“It will be very moving for you to receive this recognition. It is a unique honour as, unlike for other honours, the sovereign comes to you.”

Blackburn Cathedral will officially become the Royal Chapel for the day when the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visit. The Royal Standard will flutter from the cathedral spire while the monarch is in the building.

The Royal party are due to arrive at the town’s railway station at 10.45am and will be driven down the Boulevard and Church Street to the cathedral. Later the Queen and Prince Philip will attend a private reception at Blackburn Rovers’ Ewood Park ground.

The local recipients

of the Maundy money

EILEEN ROBERTS: A member of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Goosnargh, Eileen was 62 years with the Mothers’ Union and its enrolling member for eight years. She played the organ and was presiding member of Garstang Deanery.

JOHN HAWORTH: From St Michael’s Church in Whitewell, John was churchwarden for 40 years and PCC secretary for 26 years.

DIANA SWARBRICK: From Goosnargh St Mary’s, Diana was nominated for her work and support for Blackburn Cathedral. She is a Friend of the Cathedral and of Cathedral Music, and a volunteer in the cafe.

CANON RON GREENALL: A former vicar of St Thomas’s Church in Garstang, Canon Ron marks 50 years ministry in the Blackburn diocese in May. The Maundy money news arrived 30 years since he started at St Thomas’s.

SHEENA HORNBY: Sheena is renowned for her work at St Hilda’s Church, Bilsborrow, and helping to care for the village’s war memorial.

JOHNNY ORR: From St Michael’s on Wyre, Johnny has been a chorister, bellringer and churchwarden at his parish church.

BILL ROBINSON: Churchwarden at Chipping’s St Bartholomew’s Church for 12 years, on the PCC and the church clockwinder for more than 30 years.