Another huge window fills the end wall of the south transept, showing scenes from the early history of the Abbey at Selby. On both walls, the stained glass depicts members of the Royal House; on one side Victoria, Queen and Empress, with Albert, the Prince Consort, and on the other Edward VII and his queen, Alexandra.
For me, however, this little corner holds memories far more personal. I remember standing here with my Grandma Annie as she told me about the tradition of Maundy Money. There is a little display case with the purses and coins that Queen Elizabeth handed out to parishioners here in 1969, at the time the nine hundredth year of the Abbey, the only time the Royal Maundy Service had been held in a Parish Church rather than a cathedral.
The Royal Maundy Service is an ancient tradition that has evolved over the centuries from the instruction of Jesus… the mandatum given to His followers at the Last Supper. He told them to love one another. In medieval England, the monarchs would, on Maundy Thursday and on other Maundy days throughout the year, wash the feet of the poor in the rite known as pedilavium. The poor would be given food and clothing as alms. King John is the first monarch in recorded history to have performed this act in 1210 AD, though the bishops and other personages had done so for centuries.
Today the Maundy Service is one in which Queen Elizabeth, known for a deep and real faith, participates every year. Specially minted coins are given out these days, instead of goods, to a number of pensioners from the parish; one for every year of the monarch’s life and while the coinage is a nominal sum and legal tender, their value to collectors is much higher.
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