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Armada service
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THIS IS THE earliest known surviving set of English dining silver. It comprises 26 parcel gilt (partly gilt) dishes, each engraved on the rim with the arms of Sir Christopher Harris of Radford, Devon (about 1553-1625) and his wife, Mary Sydenham. The set is an important and unique survival; functional items of gold and silver of this date were more frequently melted down for their monetary value or made into newer, more fashionable pieces.

The set is known as the Armada service’ because of a tradition that it was made from New World silver captured from Spanish treasure ships. There is no proof for this theory, though Sir Christopher Harris did work for Sir Walter Raleigh in Devon and Cornwall as an Admiralty official during the Anglo-Spanish War (1585-1604). In 1592 Harris safeguarded booty from a Spanish ship for Raleigh, an incident that could have given rise to the Armada’ tradition.

Armada service


From London, England, ad 1581-1601
D. 12.1 cm (min.)
Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund




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