Membership » Joining Ceremony » The Ceremony of the Loving Cup
The custom is said to have originated in the precaution to keep the right, or 'dagger' hand, employed so that the person who drinks may be assured of no treachery, such as that practiced by Elfrida on the unsuspecting King Edward the Martyr, who was slain while drinking at Corfe Castle. This is why the Loving Cup has a cover.
The cup is filled with spiced wine, immemorially termed 'Sack'.
Procedure used during the Joining Ceremony
- The Cups, filled with mildly spiced wine, are handed to the Master by the Senior and Renter Wardens, in turn. The Master drinks to the New Members appearing before the Court of Assistants for their Joining Ceremony, and returns each Cup to its respective Warden.
- The Guild always passes its Loving Cups to the LEFT.
- The Senior Warden therefore turns left and bows to the New Member seated on the Master's left, who then rises and takes the Cup from the Senior Warden with both hands, and bows. [Please note that City bows are given by an inclination of the head only, body erect.]
- The Renter Warden carries his Cup to the New Member sitting on the far end of the Master's right and bows to that individual, who then rises and takes the Cup from the Renter Warden with both hands, and bows.
- In both cases, the first New Member then turns to the next New Member on his left, who rises to face him. They then bow to each other. The New Member on the Left then removes the Cover of the Cup with his right hand, holding it at shoulder-height for all to see. Then the New Member holding the Cup drinks and applies the napkin, which is appended to one of the handles, to the lip of the Cup. Then the New Member holding the Cover of the Cup replaces it.
- The New Member who has just drunk from the Cup then passes it to the New Member who had been holding the Cover, this New Member grasps it with both hands, and then both bow to each other before turning about.
- The New Member now holding the Cup turns to his left and the procedure is repeated from paragraph 5. above. When the second holder of the Cup turns to his left, the first drinker turns to his right; standing back to back with the New Member now holding the Cup, to guard his back whilst drinking until the Cup is passed to the next New Member. [The Wardens guard the backs of the first New Members to drink, and during this ceremony will advise those standing back to back with drinkers when it is time to sit, usually by a light tap on the shoulder.]
- When the Cup reaches the last in the line of New Members on that side, the Wardens will lift the Cover for the last drinker, and accept the Cup back at the end of the Ceremony.
- The Wardens will be on hand throughout to guide New Members smoothly through the ceremony to its conclusion, but New Members will later need to be familiar with the ceremony to be able to brief their guests on occasions when the ceremony will be performed, such as at Guild Dinners and Banquets.
Points to Remember
- Both participants bow when they first come face to face, and again at the end of their joint activity before turning about.
- The Cup is always passed between Members with two hands; the holder of the Cup continues to grasp it with both hands, except whilst wiping the lip. The Wardens do not drink from the Cup, but guard the back of the first drinker and lift the Cover for the last New Member in their line.