Seal of Prior Thomas Dene

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Seal of Prior Thomas Dene

Found in Southernhay in 1822, this silver seal matrix with its chain is a fine illustration of the craftsmanship of a medieval goldsmith and one of the finest examples of a medieval prior's seal in Britain. It is therefore a surprise to find that it was made for the priory of St James, Exeter, which at this time was a very minor house with only two or three monks. The seal has been fully discussed by Mr John Cherry of the British Museum. It shows the standing figure of St James with his pilgrim's staff, bag and hat, below an elaborate canopy. The inscription reads (in reverse), 'S fris thome dene prior exonie' (the seal of brother Thomas Dene prior of Exeter). It must have been made at about the time that Thomas Dene became prior in 1419. Not long afterwards, in 1444, the priory was dissolved.

Acknowledgments: RAM Museum