The Thousand Guinea Challenge Cup Trophy, now affectionately known as ‘Caradog’s Cup’ was the trophy designed and built for the Crystal Palace Choral Competition in 1872.
The Trophy was designed by the architect S. J. Nicholl and constructed by Cox & Sons. Specifically designed for the Challenge Cup Competition, the trophy was made of gold and silver. Following the two years when the trophy was in the possession of Caradog and his ‘Cor Mawr’ the trophy was returned to the Crystal Palace Company, following the cancellation future competitions.
Between 1874 and 1900 sadly the trophy was stored in a freight box in the Crystal Palace storage rooms.
In later years it was used as the prize at the National Brass Bands Festival between 1900 and 1938.
During the 1970s many attempts were made to return the trophy to Wales. For a long time it was believed that had the trophy been won a third time by Caradog’s choir in the 1870s then they would be allowed to keep it. This point was disputed for many years and was later found to be untrue. For the centenary of Caradog’s 1872 victory the Council of Greater London loaned the trophy to the National Museum of Wales, as a gesture of good will.
The trophy is currently still on loan to the Welsh Museum and is housed in the Welsh National Folk Museum in St. Fagans, Cardiff.
“On 19th May 1872, four months after the appearance of the announcement of the Music Meetings in the Press, the Crystal Palace Company publicised their intention of awarding a prize of £50 for the best design of a Challenge Trophy.
It was stipulated that the trophy should be in silver or gold, or other precious metals. It was to be portable and the whole cost of the materials, production and design was not to exceed £1000. A committee was formed to judge the entries and the adjudicators, the Slade professors of Cambridge and London Universities awarded the prize to S. J. Nicholl, an architect. The work of manufacturing the design was given to Messrs. Cox of Southampton Street, Strand, London.
It is a silver gilt trophy of Victorian Gothic design, and consists of three main parts. The cover is surmounted by a coronet, supporting various panels or shields on which were to be inscribed the names of it’s holders. The trophy itself, in the form of a chalice, stands 10 ½ inches and contains filigree and repousse work. Two enamelled shields appear on the bowl, on which are represented the figures of King David and St. Cecilia. The rim of the bowl is interpointed with circular mounted garnets. The bowl itself is supported on a stem pierced by tracery and set with semi-precious stones. Both chalice and coronet stand on an 18-inch square platform surrounded by open tracery and enamelled scrolls on which are inscribed verses from the book of Psalms. Each of the four corners has a niche in which are placed four silver figures, Guido Aretino, Palestrina, Handel and Mozart, representing music through the ages.
The trophy was first presented to the representatives of the South Wales Choral Union on Tuesday, February 26th 1873 in the Centre Transept of the Crystal Palace. It was displayed in all the rehearsals of 1873 in the major towns of South Wales and returned to Aberdare after the victory in July where it was placed on public exhibition. When the competition was abolished in 1874 it was returned to the Crystal Palace Company. It appeared again in 1900 as the Challenge Prize in the National Brass Band Festival, held annually at the Crystal Palace. It was competed for regularly until the outbreak of the Second World War. Since 1939 it has been in the safe keeping of the London County Council and it’s successors The Greater London Council who placed it on loan to the Welsh Folk Museum until October 1972.”