1988 – Maundy Thursday (Part 1)


Oh my gosh, how the world has changed during the time that I’ve been away from my keyboard!

I’m stunned and can’t quite believe what’s happened since I last posted an article. Who could have predicted that for the last 10 months or so, we would be living in the midst of a worldwide Pandemic!

During these worrying times, it is hoped that everybody is managing to keep themselves safe. Today, as I add the finishing touches to this blog, a new year has just begun and the deadly virus is on the rise yet again. We have just entered into our 3rd national lockdown in England, when is this nightmare going to end?

But good news is on the horizon! Vaccines are being rolled out and beginning to be administered as we speak, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that the fight back against this deadly virus has just begun and maybe we’ll all be able to get back to some form of normality in the not too distant future.


Happy New Year everybody and a very warm welcome back to my family history blog, To Jamaica and Beyond.

For those who can remember, a large part of my multi-decade story centred around the life of my Jamaican Great Uncle, Walter ‘Cecil’ Hodgson who came here to England in 1951.

Uncle Cecil

The telling of my story was first inspired by an old black & white photograph of Cecil’s parents, that my father passed on to me in 1999. Another thing that also encouraged me to pen my thoughts, was the finding of two photograph albums that once belonged to Cecil. Various photographs from those discovered albums are scattered in amongst some of my blogs.

The last blog that I wrote many moons ago, left the story dangling in the decade of the 1980’s, therefore for those of you who may have forgotten which direction the story was heading in, a mini catch up may well be needed, so here’s a quick bullet-list summary of what occurred in that last blog, 1980 to 1987 – The Last Branch.

  • My Mom and dad had parted
  • Dad then emigrated back to Southfield, Jamaica
  • Dad’s sister, Cisline left Southfield and emigrated to New Jersey In the USA
  • My cousin Valerie, died here in England
  • Not able to resettle in Jamaica, dad left Southfield and moved back to England
  • Leslie & Phylis Hodgson, the owners of Southfield Pen, became the last remaining Southfield Hodgson’s In Jamaica
  • Cecil’s sister Hortense flew from the USA to visit her now retired brother Cecil Hodgson in West Bromwich. I was there for that warm occasion, but it was to be the last time I ever visited their home

Summed up in a nutshell, that’s basically what happened last time. But before you proceed any further, if you prefer instead to read the whole of the previous blog again, in it’s entirety, then just click on this link 1980 to 1987 – The Last Branch.

Ok, so now, we begin the chapter of what happened next in To Jamaica and Beyond …

Today’s blog, 1988 – Maundy Thursday really has to be one of my most favourite stories ever! It tells the unique story of an event that happened to Cecil Hodgson of West Bromwich, more than 32 years ago.

Although To Jamaica and Beyond has remained dormant over the last 20 months, my family history research has never actually stopped. That has allowed me to put together the final intricate pieces to Cecil’s story.

Infact, the painstaking research that has gone into this blog was still being conducted just a few weeks before the Coronavirus Pandemic broke out in March 2020 last year.

After twenty years of many stop-start research moments trying to piece together the full facts, what was finally uncovered, would reveal one of the most magical moments ever to happen in the history of our family.

No Children

Due to Uncle Cecil never having any children, he therefore left no direct family members to preserve and pass down his delightful story. Although there may have been a very small handful of relatives or friends in the UK and USA who were aware that he had been given an award, none of them probably knew what it all meant to him or were there in person to witness the events that actually took place.

The people who may have known anything about Cecil’s journey are no longer with us today, so Cecil’s ‘silent story’ has been left to gather dust, buried and lost beneath our family tree roots for the last 32 years. But now, my readers and relatives can re-live his lovely story. It will be the first time that the full story of his wonderful journey has ever been told.

It’s Cecil’s story, in my words…

Due to Maundy Thursday being such a lengthy and detailed story, it will be delivered in 3 parts. Today’s episode, Maundy Thursday (Part 1) begins in 1999, when I first heard the ‘whisperings’ of what appeared to be a ‘potentially interesting story’.

After that, the it then travels back many centuries in time, looking into the origins, history and meanings of Maundy Thursday, before it then skips forward through the centuries bringing us right up to the year 1987…

The Telephone Conversation

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND – It all began one day in 1999, when I was speaking on the telephone to my London resident father, Renford Hodgson. On that memorable day, dad casually passed a comment that took me by complete surprise when he nonechently remarked;

“Uncle Cecil won an award off the Queen”

What did dad just say?

At the speed of light, my eyebrows scrunched into a tight little frown and my newly aqquired family history brain quickly whirred into action. Gripping the telephone a little bit tighter and my pitched voice appearing to get louder, I instantly responded with a volley of quick-fire questions;

“What do you mean dad, what did he win it for?

“Rob, I’m not sure what he got it for!” came back dad’s firm reply.

“When was it, when did it happen?“ I asked.

“Probably sometime in the 1970’s. I think he had to go to Westminster Abbey in London. There was a photo of him in the paper

Intrigued and so desperate to find out more, I tried to dig deeper.

“Westminster Abbey! Can you remember which paper you saw it in dad?

“I cant remember which one it was, but he was definitely in a paper, I remember seeing it” dad said.

I wrote down the bits of information that dad told me, but that was it, that was all the evidence I had in 1999.

After ending the call, thoughts raced through my mind;

Did Uncle Cecil really go to Westminster Abbey to get an award off the Queen, if so, why didn’t anyone here in England know anything about it? I wondered what the award was for and why my dad only had vague details about it. Why didn’t he know more?

Library Research

The World Wide Web (the Internet) was in it’s infancy back then, so after speaking to dad, the very next morning, I skipped a day off work. By 10am, I was comfortably seated at Birmingham Central Library, diligently searching through their old newspaper archives using one of their dated microfilm readers.

A visit to any Library or Archive back then, was how ‘budding genealogists’ like me had to research in those days. There was no other option, no quick fix. Sitting at home on a warm comfortable sofa, searching the Internet, swiping left, swiping right, was yet to come!

A Microfilm Reader

Staring at the screen on my microfilm reader, I wondered if I would be able to find that photograph of Uncle Cecil that dad told me he had seen in a Newspaper. I was at the Library all day. After many fruitless hours of searching, nothing whatsoever was found. I went back to the library several more times, but without any success. I also contacted local newspapers asking them to search through their Archives too. But no luck there either.

Dad had mentioned to me that he thought his Uncle went to Westminster Abbey sometime in the 1970’s. Not having a clue what type of award he may have got from the Queen, I began looking into any Royal ocassions and presentations that might have occurred at Westminster Abbey during that time period. I happened to stumble upon three events. These were three Maundy Thursday Ceremonies that had taken place at Westminister Abbey in 1970, 1973 and 1977.

Was I on the right track?

I’d never even heard the phrase ‘Maundy Thursday’ before, I didn’t have a clue what it was, but suspected that in order to help me progress further, I needed to find out more about it, so I then immersed myself deep into the world of Royal Maundy Thursday.

Little was I to know way back then, that this adventure was going take me another 20 years from that point to unravel the whole story!


Before we delve further into Cecil’s story, I think it’s really important that you too, the readers, gain an insight and understanding into the background, origins and meaning of the phrase, Maundy Thursday.

In the biblical years approximately 2000 years ago, Jesus commanded that people should love one another and then he washed the feet of his 12 disciples as an act of kindness. Afterwards he shared supper with all of them. This was an occasion that came to be historically known as ‘The Last Supper.’

The Last Supper. Jesus washed the feet of his 12 disciples

After the meal, it is recorded that Jesus washed their feet, and gave them the following mandatum or command:

“If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done unto you.”

The name ‘Maundy’ and the ceremony itself derive from that Latin instruction ‘Mandatum’.

The Last Supper occurred on Thursday and became a historic day that Christians remember and celebrate today as ‘Easter Thursday’ or ‘Maundy Thursday’. The following day – after the last supper – was a Friday. This was the day that Jesus died, and is celebrated today as ‘Easter Friday’ or ‘Good Friday’

Jesus’s act of kindness came to be signified as part of the Christian calendar, a celebration of Easter, marking the night of the last supper as told in the bible. It became known as Maundy Thursday.

By the Middle Ages of the 4th or 5th century, an early type of ceremony had been developed following the Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday, in which high church leaders (not Monarchs) washed the feet of the poor. The ceremony, first known as the ‘pedilavus’ was performed daily in some English Monasteries.


It’s thought the actual ‘Maundy Service Ceremony’ dates back to Canterbury in 597 A.D. But it was infact many centuries later in the 1200’s that the Royal family actually began to take part themselves in the Maundy Ceremony, washing the feet of the poor people and giving out money and gifts to them.

KNARESBOROUGH, YORKSHIRE – The first recorded occasion was in 1210 at Knaresborough, Yorkshire, when the sovereign, King John, distributed garments, forks, food, and other gifts to the poor of the town.

ROCHESTER CASTLE, KENT – This was the place where the first ‘recorded’ instance is known where a Monarch actually gave out ‘money’. It happened in 1213 when King John gave out clothing, food and money to the poor. He gave 13 pence each to 13 poor men.

King John was the first ever recorded Monarch to have distributed gifts.

The 1300’s

By the 1300’s, the monarchs attendance at the Maundy Thursday ceremony had developed into a more regular custom by this time. Because of the Royal’s now being in attendance, the service became known as ‘Royal Maundy Thursday’

The tradition of making the number of Maundy recipients equal to the monarchs age appears to have started in 1363, when 50 year old King Edward III presented gifts to 50 poor men.

The 1500’s

During the Tudor period, The ‘Palace Of Whitehall’ located in the City of Westminster, became the creation of King Henry VIII. Determined to make it the ‘Biggest Palace in Christiandom’ it became the principle Royal residence for Kings and Queens between the years 1530 to 1698. This was long before Buckingham Palace had been acquired and used as a Royal Residence.

The complex of the Palace of Whitehall before a fire destroyed it in 1698. The tallest. widest building seen on the left is Banqueting House. This building survived the devastating blaze and was later to become the venue where most Maundy Ceremonies took place in the 1600’s.

Records from 1556 show that the English Monarch, Mary I washed the feet of forty-one poor women (reflecting her age) whilst ‘Ever on her knees’ and gave them forty one pence each as well as gifts of bread, fish and clothing, donating her own gown to the woman that was said to be the poorest of them all.

In 1572, Elizabeth I carried out the Maundy Ceremony at Greenwich, London, distributing cloth, salmon, herrings, bread and claret. It was traditional for female sovereigns to also give away their own gown, but disliking the scenes as each woman tried to secure a piece of the royal gown, this practice was eventually stopped by Queen Elizabeth I, who instead substituted the gift of her gown for twenty silver shillings, to prevent the people fighting over it!

Queen Elizabeth I didn’t like the female recipient’s fighting over her gown, so introduced a coinage gift instead.

Because of no longer handing out her gown and giving out silver shillings instead, it therefore became the custom for the monarch to bestow a second monetary gift, which meant that a second purse was required. The red purse that had been used to contain the gift of pennies was now used for silver shillings and a new white purse was introduced to contain the pennies.

Red and White Leather Purses for the coins.

The 1600’s

BANQUETING HOUSE, WHITEHALL, LONDON – In 1622, a structure called Banqueting House, became an additional building component of the Royal Palace of Whitehall. Banqueting House was later to become the place where the majority of Royal Maundy Ceremonies were held by the Kings and Queens of England.

Banqueting House was built In 1622 and later used as the venue for Maundy Thursday.

In 1625, King Charles I came onto the throne. However, the presence of the monarch at the Maundy Ceremony diminished during the later years of the reign of King Charles I, when he was executed on scaffolding that had been assembled and erected in front of Banqueting House In 1649.

King Charles I was executed in front of Banqueting House In 1649

After the beheading of King Charles I in 1649, the Monarchy fell into total disarray when it was abolished by the Parliamentarian Oliver Cromwell, hence there was no Monarch in power whatsoever, to participate in anymore Maundy Ceremonies until the Monarchy was restored by the new King, Charles II, eleven years later in 1660.

Following Cromwell’s eventual demise and then the Restoration of the Monarchy, the new King, Charles II was very keen to revive the Royal Maundy tradition so he personally distributed money and gifts to the poor himself. He even restored the practice of washing the feet of the poor in person, though this did not last for more than a year or so.

King Charles II attempted to personally give out gifts and money on Maundy Thursday.

‘Special Maundy Money’

The first ever Maundy Royal Ceremony that used ‘Special Maundy Money’ took place in 1662 during the early years of Charles II reign when he gave all the Maundy recipient’s, undated hammered coins of the denominations 1 pence, 2 pence, 3 pence and 4 pence. This special coin change replaced the usual washing of feet.

Undated Coins. From 1670, the coins had dates on them.

During the continued reign of Charles II, the Maundy coinage continued to have no dates stamped on them from 1662 to 1669, before the first set of four ‘dated’ Maundy coins were issued in 1670.

Up until the joint reign of King William and Queen Mary in 1689, English monarchs had now been participating in the annual Maundy ceremonies for the past 400 years.

CHAPEL ROYAL, WHITEHALL, LONDON – The Tudor built ‘Royal Palace of Whitehall’ complex didn’t survive and was was burnt down during a 15 hour fire in 1698. Also consumed by fire within the complex was the Royal Chapel.

All that now remained from the old great Palace of Whitehall after the fire was Banqueting House and a few other building components. Almost immediately after the fire in 1698, the same year, Banqueting House was then converted into a Chapel to replace the religious Royal Chapel structure that had also been lost. So Banqueting House hence replaced the Royal Chapel becoming ‘Chapel Royal’. All Royal Maundy’s would now be conducted from this re-named place. (Maundy Thursday would establish itself here for the next 200 years)

A decade later in 1699 the monarch totally stopped attending the Maundy services altogether, sending instead an official in their place, therefore with no Monarch present, the feet washing custom, ended altogether.

The 1700’s

The Maundy continued into the 1700’s using officials as replacements for the Royals. Between the years 1702 – 1710 Queen Anne was too infirm to attend any Maundy’s. The succession of further Monarch’s didn’t appear either at any of the Ceremonies. Each being content just to send a representative from the Royal household in their place instead. The prestige of having a Royal Monarch in attendance had disappeared.

There was an old tradition that If a King was on the throne, only male recipients would be chosen to receive the Royal gifts and if the Monarch was a Queen, then only females would be given gifts, but from 1714, there was a change to these proceedings, when both men and women now began to be equally given the Maundy at the same time at Chapel Royal, Whitehall.

Washing Of Feet Discontinued

By 1730, the practise of washing feet at the Royal Maundy Service was discontinued, and the gifts where instead replaced by a money allowance known as ‘Maundy Money’. Special silver minted Maundy Money coins began to be distributed by the monarch.

A representative of the Royal household – The Lord High Almoner – continued to perform at the Maundy ceremony until 1737. The additional monetary allowance which had taken the place of the Maundy robe had been suspended in 1731 but was reinstated in 1759. The British Royal Mint then began to produce their own special minted Maundy money in 1752.

Continuing at Chapel Royal, after 1760 George III and then much later afterwards a young Queen Victoria both attended the Maundy Ceremony in person on at least one occasion, but they were only there as mere spectators, neither of them actually took an active part in any services.

The 1800’s

At the beginning of the 1800’s, the Ceremony continued to be held at Chapel Royal, Whitehall but there was still no Monarch present at any of the Maundy Ceremonies. By the start of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837, a decision was made to replace the gifts of food with money.

A Royal Maundy Ceremony at Chapel Royal, Whitehall, London April 1867 during Queen Victoria’s reign.
Male and female recipients about to receive their gifts at Royal Maundy, Chapel Royal, Whitehall, London on the 1st April 1877. Queen Victoria never presented at any Maundy Thursday Ceremony during her long reign.

In 1882, clothing, which had long remained part of the Maundy Ceremony, was replaced by an additional monetary gift instead, so from this year, only coins and nothing else would be given out at Maundy Thursday Ceremonies.

In 1890, The Chapel Royal building held it’s last ever Maundy Thursday Ceremony. It had been hosting the official Maundy Ceremony, annually for just under 200 years.

1890 saw the last ever Maundy held at Chapel Royal Whitehall.

WESTMINSTER ABBEY, LONDON – The following year 1891, by order of Queen Victoria, the Ceremony was moved from Chapel Royal, Whitehall to the ancient Westminster Abbey, which then became the new official Maundy venue.

Westminster Abbey became the new home of the Royal Maundy In 1891 under Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria

The 1900’s

It was now the 1900’s and it had been more than 200 years since a Monarch had last performed a Maundy Ceremony in person, but at the 1931 Royal Maundy in Westminster Abbey, a cousin of King George V suggested to him that he should start making the Maundy distributions himself the following year, which he obligingly did, thus beginning a new royal custom.

So to avoid the ancient Royal Maundy losing it’s sparkle and becoming just an ‘Empty Ceremony’ it was deemed essential to restore royal connections with the service, therefore in 1932 King George V – our current Queen’s grandfather – became the first monarch in more than 200 years to personally present Maundy purses to their recipients.

The Queens Grandfather King George V restored the custom of a Monarch distributing Maundy gifts in person

After the death of King George V in January 1936, his eldest son immediately came onto the throne, becoming King Edward VIII but he only remained in his role for a period of 326 days, conducting just one Maundy Service before his abdication from the throne at the end of the same year. This was his first and last Maundy. See this short clip below;

Edward’s younger brother George VI – our current Queens father – took over the role as King until his death in 1952.

Our current Queen, Elizabeth II, came next onto the throne, replacing her late father King George VI in 1952. Elizabeth’s first official Royal obligation was a Maundy service held at Westminster Abbey during the first year of her reign. Here’s a short clip of it;


A Modern Royal

After Queen Elizabeth’s first year as Monarch, there was a new change of direction concerning the venue of the Royal Maundy, when now every ‘odd year’ in the Royal calendar, it began to be held in different venues dotted all around the country. Nevertheless, during every ‘even year’ in the calendar, it continued to be held back at Westminster Abbey

During the current reign of Queen Elizabeth II, the Maundy ceremony has been firmly re-established in the 1900’s and now thrives. Infact there have only been four years when Her Majesty has not been able to present the Maundy coins herself in person: twice when she was about to go into labour, and twice when she was away visiting countries in the Commonwealth. Those 4 years were 1954, 1960, 1964 and 1970.

Queen Elizabeth II Maundy Coin Set 1962

Below is a table, showing the venues where all Royal Maundy Services were held from Queen Elizabeth’s first one in 1952, up until 1987.

Between the years 1982 to 1987, the Maundy Services were held outside the city of London in these these six different Counties; Pembrokeshire in 1982, Devonshire 1983, Nottinghamshire 1984, Yorkshire 1985, Sussex 1986 and finally Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire in 1987.

1952 Westminster Abbey, London
1953 St Paul’s Cathedral, London
1954 Westminster Abbey (The Lord High Almoner officiated, as The Queen was on a Commonwealth tour)
1955 Southwark Cathedral
1956 Westminster Abbey
1957 St Albans Abbey
1958 Westminster Abbey
1959 St George’s Chapel, Windsor, Berkshire
1960 Westminster Abbey (Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother officiated, as Prince Andrew was born in February)
1961 Rochester Cathedral
1962 Westminster Abbey
1963 Chelmsford Cathedral
1964 Westminster Abbey (Princess Mary, The Princess Royal officiated, as Prince Edward was born in March)
1965 Canterbury Cathedral
1966 Westminster Abbey
1967 Durham Cathedral
1968 Westminster Abbey
1969 Selby Abbey
1970 Westminster Abbey (Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, officiated as The Queen was in New Zealand)
1971 Tewkesbury Abbey
1972 York Minster, Yorkshire
1973 Westminster Abbey
1974 Salisbury Cathedral
1975 Peterborough Cathedral
1976 Hereford Cathedral, Herefordshire
1977 Westminster Abbey
1978 Carlisle Cathedral
1979 Winchester Cathedral
1980 Worcester Cathedral, Worcestershire
1981 Westminster Abbey
1982 St David’s Cathedral, Dyfed, Pembrokeshire
1983 Exeter Cathedral, Devonshire
1984 Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire
1985 Ripon Cathedral, Yorkshire
1986 Chichester Cathedral, Sussex
1987 Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire
1988                         ?

Well that’s all for now, hope this has given you a historical flavour into the fabric of Maundy Thursday and that you found it interesting learning about some of the Kings and Queens of England, who are woven into it’s long history.

As you can see, it was, and still is a unique and important occasion in the Royal calendar. Infact it is one of the only Royal events where the Monarch visits it’s subjects (not the other way around)

Just before you go, I’m sure you might all have noticed that the 1970’s had passed by and gone, so you’ve probably realised by now that it wasn’t actually in the 1970’s, that Cecil received an award off the Queen.

Also, I forgot to tell you where the next Maundy Thursday Ceremony was going to be taking place in 1988. Well sorry about that folks, but you’ll just have to wait to read the next instalment of To Jamaica and Beyond to discover the answer.

Where do you think it’s going be?

Coming Next in Part 2: Cecil Hodgson enters the story…




Rest In Peace Mom

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