Tradition endures over centuries

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THE annual tradition of the reigning monarch handing out commemorative coins to mark Maundy Thursday each Easter has endured throughout the centuries.

The coins are presented to elderly people in recognition of their service to both the community and their church.

Since the 15th century, the number of Maundy coins handed out, and the number of people receiving them, has been related to the Sovereign’s age.

In York Minster yesterday, there were 86 men and 86 women for the Royal Maundy service during which they received the coins from the Queen.

Maundy coins have remained in much the same form since 1670 although when decimalisation took place in 1971, the face value was changed from old to new pence.

The effigy of the Queen on ordinary coinage has undergone three changes. But Maundy coins still bear the same portrait of Her Majesty done by Mary Gillick for the first batch issued in the coronation year of 1953.

The Royal Maundy service used to take place in London, but the Queen decided early in her reign that it should be held at a different venue every year.

The service has been staged in Yorkshire on a number of occasions, including Selby Abbey in 1969, Ripon Cathedral in 1985, Bradford Cathedral in 1997 and Wakefield Cathedral in 2005. York Minster has now hosted the service twice over 60 years – in 1972 and yesterday.