The Courtrai Chest

Courtrai ChestThe Courtrai Chest was discovered around 1905 in the village of Stanton St John, a village largely owned by New College. Discovered by Warden Spooner on a Warden’s Progress, it was found in a barn of a College tenant where it was used as a feed bin. The chest is in 17th-century form, but the carved front is probably Flemish, and dates from the 14th century.

The carving illustrates scenes from the Battle of the Golden Spurs fought in Courtrai, Flanders, on 11 July 1302. The battle was, in fact, a citizens’ uprising against the French king who had annexed Flanders some years before. The battle secured an unexpected victory for the Flemish artisan footmen against the army of French knights.

The chest is on deposit at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, where it can be seen in the Medieval gallery.