The Black Prince’s “achievements”, which have been on display in Canterbury Cathedral for hundreds of years, have been taken down to enable their fragile condition to be examined by conservators and for further research carried out.
This is being done prior to some of the “achievements” being loaned for a major London exhibition later in the year and it is planned that they will return to display in the Cathedral in 2017.
The armorial jupon (tabard), helmet, gauntlets and sword scabbard were made to adorn the Cathedral tomb of Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales who died in 1376. The achievements have been displayed in various places in the Cathedral and since the 1990s they have been in a glass case on a wall in the south-east transept.
Although the original achievements are not on display currently, replicas made in 1954 can be seen above the Prince’s marble tomb near the St Thomas Becket shrine in the Cathedral.
The Black Prince, who would have become King Edward IV if he had survived his father, requested to be buried in the Cathedral – it is believed that his affection for Canterbury may have begun in boyhood when he is thought to have been cared for by a Prior at Christ Church Priory.
UPDATE: Experts and specialists from around the UK, including representatives from the Royal Armouries, the British Museum, the Wallace Collection and the Courtauld Institute met at Canterbury Cathedral (11 February 2016) to look in detail at the achievements and to discuss the best ways of both preserving and exhibiting them for future generations. The Black Prince’s relationship with Canterbury is to be further assessed and research, which may reveal more about the achievements and their use, is to be carried out prior to the achievements being returned to public exhibition in the Cathedral next year.