A Commemorative Coin struck to celebrate our 800th Anniversary – Wow
What a privilege it has been, to watch Raphael Maklouf bring his idea of this coin to life. Raphael, is probably best known for his sculpture of the Queen’s Head, on the coins in your pocket.
It all started back in February 2019, when Raphael and his wife invited me for coffee at their wonderful home, on the banks of the Thames, to discuss their amazing proposal of producing a commemorative coin/medallion for St Mary Magdalene’s 800th Anniversary.
Initial thoughts on design were the Tower on one side and something from the inside of the church for the reverse.
Following the re-ordering of the church, there had been so many comments on the beautiful contours and design of the font, it soon became a leading contender and as the oldest remaining part of the church is the Tower, with its Tudor Arch which has been replicated throughout the church numerous times. It soon became clear the design for the reverse of the coin should be the font framed by the original Tudor Arch.
By April we were sat, in the sun, in Raphael’s garden tweaking sketches for the design on the coin.
July the 9th, a day Wilma and I will never forget. We met Raphael at The Tower Mint where we shown all the intricate steps of making our coin. We saw the fascinating skills of the craftsmen and women turning a sketch into a relief and then a die (the inverse version of the of the image to be struck on the coin)
The press was prepared with immense care ensuring not a spec of dust would spoil the impression. A magazine of shiny discs of cupro-nickel were loaded into the press. Raphael invited Wilma forward to the press and asked her to place her finger onto a green button. “Press when you are ready”, he said and Wilma did. There was a large hiss of air pressure and a loud thud and our first coin was minted.
Davie the press operator and Raphael inspected the coin very carefully and announced “good to go”. Hiss, thud………hiss, thud…….. as the production of our coins began. Raphael placed the first coin into a presentation box and handed it to Wilma. There were very big smiles all around.
As we considered how to celebrate our 800th Anniversary, we were very mindful of all the people who have worshipped and prayed in our beautiful church during the last eight centuries, sharing their joys and their sorrows, their hopes and their fears.
As a part of our celebration, we thought it appropriate to remember each day, some of these people and give thanks for their lives, their contribution towards and stewardship of St Mary Magdalene, Richmond.
To this end, at each daily service throughout our Anniversary Year we will give thanks for:
– someone who was baptised in St Mary’s on that date
– a couple who were married in the church on that date, and
– someone whose funeral or memorial service was held in St Mary’s on that date.
Sarah Garrett’s magnificent patience and diligence searching through our registers over the past two years has brought this idea to life in our 800th Anniversary Book. During her research, Sarah has used
– original baptism, marriage, and service registers held at St Mary Magdalene and the Surrey History Centre in Woking
– digital scans of our registers commencing from the late 1500s held online at Ancestry.co.uk
– parish magazines held at the local archives and memorial service sheets which members of our congregation have kept over the years
The names have been reproduced in the Anniversary Book exactly as they appear in the records together with their original spellings! Sarah has found the research both enjoyable and fascinating and some of her favourite entries are from the days of the Rev Nicholas Brady in the late 1600s and early 1700s when parishioner’s occupations and where they were living was noted, so bringing the names to life.
The Anniversary Book itself was made possible by a very kind donation from Liz Lanyon, dedicating the book to the memory of her dear husband Gerald. The book’s creation has become a favoured project of the highly skilled workforce of Bookmakers and Calligraphers at FG Marshall Ltd of Epsom. Among all the books they have made in their history, our Anniversary Book is the first of its kind. Do take a moment each week to take a look at the book and ponder over the names mentioned.