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Medieval seals on show at exhibition

Published: 16 Apr 2014 07:300 comments

HISTORY buffs can lift the lid on Reading’s medieval power struggles at a free exhibition in the town centre.

The exhibition, called Small Objects of Power, opened at the Berkshire Record Office in Coley Avenue this week and features a rare collection of centuries-old seals which belonged to some of the town’s most influential characters. Seals were used throughout the Middle Ages to authenticate legal documents and their designs give historians a key insight into the personal art of the time – but their fragility means few have survived though the centuries.

Included in the exhibition are the seals of two Archbishops of Canterbury, the seal of the Master of the Knights Hospitaller in England and the special lead seal or ‘bulla’ of one 14th century Pope.

Also on show is the earliest representation of the Reading borough arms, dated 1365, and a Wallingford town seal from 1299. On an Abingdon deed there is the seal for the town of Southampton, dating from 1447, which depicts a ship at sea surrounded by sun, moon and stars.

The exhibition is open at the Record Office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9am-5pm, on Thursdays from 9am-9pm and Fridays from 9am-4.30pm, and will run until August.

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