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A set of silver-gilt plates; the reeded rim cast with fruiting vines and scallop shells. The plate is engraved with the Royal coat of arms, with supporters, mantling and coronet.

George IV's spectacular silver-gilt dining service and buffet

John Bridge (1755-1834)

The Grand Punch Bowl 1829

Silver gilt | 76.2 x 138.5 x 101.5 cm (whole object) | RCIN 31768

Jewel House, Jewel House

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This huge wine cistern is the largest piece of wrought English plate in existence. It weighs 227kg and was intended as the final piece of the Grand Service, costing a considerable £8,500. In keeping with its function, it is decorated with scenes of alcoholic enjoyment and revelry.

George IV did not live to see the finished piece and the bowl was first used by his brother, William IV (1765–1837), at his 65th birthday dinner in 1830. According to accounts from the period, the Royal Goldsmith John Bridge hid behind the wine cooler during the meal in order to watch the Grand Service in use.

Queen Victoria (1819–1901) later converted the cooler into a punch bowl, commissioning a huge ladle to accompany it. It was used to celebrate the christening of her eldest son, Prince Albert Edward, in 1842.