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24 September 2014

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You are in: Cumbria > History > History features > Cumberland Lucks

Luck of Muncaster

Luck of Muncaster

Cumberland Lucks

Scattered throughout the county are a number of so called 'Lucks'. Myth and legend surround the history of these items and many have Royal connections.

The Luck of Muncaster

The glass bowl, known as 'The Luck of Muncaster', has been preserved by the Pennington family since the 15th Century.

The story starts in 1464 and involves King Henry VI. He was the only son of Henry of Agincourt and Catherine of France and had been crowned King of England at the age of eight.

By the time he had reached his early forties he had lost his throne to Edward IV. He'd also been taken prisoner during the Battle of Hexham. He managed to escape, and fled to the hills of the Lake District where he lived rough for about a year.

Sir John Pennington, 3rd Baronet of Muncaster

Sir John Pennington

He was found by a shepherd in a sorry state and taken to Muncaster Castle whereupon his true identity was discovered.

Sir John Pennington, whose home Muncaster Castle was, gave Henry food and shelter for as long as he requested it. In gratitude, Henry gave Sir John a glass drinking bowl and said it was given to the family with a prayer that they might prosper for as long as the glass remained unbroken.

The glass remains unbroken to this day and the family has prospered.

Hanging in the bedroom used by King Henry is a painting of him kneeling before an altar with the glass bowl in his right hand.

The Luck of Burrell Green

Burrell Green is a small hamlet a few miles east of Penrith in North Cumbria.

Church registers indicate that a family called Burrell lived in Burrell Green in the sixteenth century.

The 'Luck' has been handed down through the families residing here.

The story continues that 'Maids were down by a pond collecting water for a feast when hob-goblins appeared and presented the dish saying 'if this dish be sold or gearn, fewell the luck of Burrell Green'.

The luck is a ancient brass dish with a diameter of around 40cm and is about 4cm deep.

The inscription can still just be read however another inscription elsewhere on the dish is impossible to read as a pummice stone was used in the past to clean it.

The Luck was made circa 1500 in Nuremberg, the luck couplet engraved later.

The Luck of Workington

The ruined Workington Hall was once a magnificent fortified home belonging to the Curwen family.

The Curwens had a 'Luck', which is an object that ensures good fortune for the family as long as it is not broken.

It was given to them by Mary Queen of Scots, who stayed at the Hall after fleeing from Scotland in 1568, before her incarceration at the hands of Elizabeth.

The Luck was an agate cup, which was passed down throughout the Curwen line.

"It has inspired a poem called 'The Luck of Edenhall' which includes the lines: If this glass doth fall, Farewell then, O Luck of Edenhall! "

Johan Ludwig Uhland, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It is thought that the 'luck' was stolen many years ago and remains unfound.

The Luck of Edenhall

The Luck of Edenhall is a goblet. The legend developed in the poem is that the glass was acquired by a butler who, going to fetch water from a well, surprised a group of fairies dancing on the green near the spring. The glass was by the well and the butler made off with it. When he would not return it, the fairies uttered the curse which is in the famous couplet.

In 1928 the Luck of Edenhall was given to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, where it remains to this day.

It is made of 13th Century Syrian glass and it was brought to Europe very soon after it was made. This is clear because it has a leather case, which is English or French, that was made only a few decades after the glass.

It is a drinking glass, cylindrical in shape with a wide flaring mouth, made of an orange-tinged translucent glass. Painted on it in red, blue and white enamel are intersecting arches and arabesque leaves which are outlined in gold leaf with fine red lines for extra detail.

This is high-quality glass such as was only being made at the time in the Middle East. The history of the glass between the date of the case and the 18th Century is not known.

It has inspired a poem called 'The Luck of Edenhall' by Johan Ludwig Uhland, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which includes the lines:

If this glass doth fall,
Farewell then, O Luck of Edenhall!

last updated: 24/06/2008 at 10:43
created: 18/06/2008

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