Mystery of The Nanteos Cup

The Nanteos Cup also known as The Holy Grail is a medieval wood mazer bowl traditionally believed to have been crafted from the cross of Christ. Since at least the late 19th century, it ended up in Nanteos Mansion near Aberystwyth, Wales, attracting visitors who drank from it - or even nibbled bits off the edge - believing it had healing powers. The exact origin of the Cup is a mystery, but it seems that the relic came into the possession of the Powell family of Nanteos from Strata Florida Abbey during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The Nanteos Cup
(Image Credit:Wikipedia)

According to experts who dated it for a TV documentary in 2004, it was made sometime during the 14th century. But, according to legend, the cup made of olive wood or wych elmhe cup and is claimed to have been brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea after the death of Christ and then taken to Nanteos Mansion by seven monks from Strata Florida, Ceredigion, during the reign of Henry Vlll.

The history of this Cup begins to evolve into a Healing Cup where people were cured of their ills by drinking from it. However, it is many years later it makes a first public appearance. The Nanteos Cup was first exhibited by George Ernest John Powell (1842–1882) in 1878 at St David's College, Lampeter (now University of Wales, Trinity Saint David), during a meeting of the Cambrian Archaeological Society. From the onset of its first public display, word of its power as a Healing Cup began to spread; it was displayed quite regularly in various local meetings and lecturers etc.

The genuine Cup was kept in the library at Nanteos, locked in a cupboard while the Cup that was on display was a replica made by Richard Rees Jones of Rhoserchan, Isaf, Capel Seion. The visitor that wanted to drink from the Cup would be sent into the Morning room to be greeted by Margaret Powell. 

Maggie Williams, the Housekeeper would be in the Library placing the genuine Cup on display instead of the replica and was put on display on the table between the two windows. She would fill it up with water, and then Mrs. Powell would enter the library from the morning room with the visitor. The visitor then drank from the Cup. After the water was drank Mrs. Powell took them into the dining room and slammed the door loudly so Maggie could hear. Maggie said that once she heard the door slam she would then take the Cup, dry it and then replace it with a replica in case anyone tried to steal it, and replace the real Cup in the locked cupboard. She said that this was done every time when a visitor called.

Sometime between 7-14 July 2014, the 10cm-high cup was stolen from a home in Weston Under Penyard near Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire. It is understood that it had been on loan to a sick elderly woman on account of its supposed healing power. She was in hospital when the thieves struck and police think the theft was planned. At that time, the owners are offering £1,000 and West Mercia Police are offering an additional £1,000 for its safe return.

Later, it was recovered on 19 June 2015 – as part of Operation Icarus – following an appeal on BBC One's Crimewatch Roadshow. The police spokesman said: "An anonymous source came forward after seeing the Crimewatch appeal which resulted in it being physically handed in."

Detective Inspector Martyn Barnes, the investigating officer, said: "Following the recovery of the cup, no arrests have been made and inquiries into the theft continue. However, we are very pleased it has now been returned to its rightful owners."

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