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LUCK OF EDENHALL

 

"If this cup should break or fall,
Farewell the Luck of Edenhall."

The most sumptuous and beautiful object the fairies left as evidence of their existence must surely be the Luck of Edenhall. Now housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, this glorious, elegant glass beaker is finely decorated in blue, green, red and white enamel with gilding and is remarkably in perfect condition. The tale is told how the butler of Edenhall, near Penrith, went to St Cuthbert’s Well for some water and came upon partying fairies. This lovely object was in their midst and, drawn by its beauty, he reached over and grabbed it. The fairies put up a struggle, but it was useless. As they fled they warned: “If this glass shall break or fall, then farewell the luck of Edenhall”. Several lucks are associated with Cumbrian houses and families, and some have attracted similar legends. For once the more prosaic explanation for the origins of the Luck of Edenhall does not detract from its truly magical qualities. It was made in Egypt or Syria in the 13th century, and presumably brought back to the wilds of Cumbria by a crusader after many years in the Near East. But the technology needed to make clear glass was unknown in northern Europe at that time, and the skill needed to enamel such a fragile object must have seemed magical. Undoubtedly the legend which grew around the Luck of Edenhall helped to preserve it for 700 years. And that is something we can all thank the fairies for. The Luck of Edenhall is on permanant display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. St Cuthbert’s Well, mentioned in the legend, is on private land.