British Royalty Royalty: The Royal Almonry

Figure 1.--This 1905 photograph is identified as the children of the Royal Almonry. Theyreceived 5 guineas annually towards their education. Here they attended the ceremonial distribution of the Maundy Money. I am not sure how the children were chosen.

The Royal Almonry is a small poorly known office within the Royal Household of the British monarchy. It is overseen by the Lord High Almoner, an office created in 1103. The Royal Almonry is the monarchy's practice of alms-giving. Gifts of food and money have been regularly distributed on behalf of the Sovereign by the Lord High Almoner and his assistants.The Lord High Almoner has the clerical rank of a diocesan bishop of the Church of England. There is also an hereditary Grand Almoner, an office created in 1685 and permanently vested in the person of the Marquess of Exeter. The Grand Almoner, however, should not be confused with the Royal Almonry because despite the seeming similarity s actually not an officer of the Royal Almonry. The Royal Almonry is actually administered by Sub-Almoner, who is also has the position of Sub-dean of the Chapel Royal, Deputy Clerk of the Closet of the Ecclesiastical Household, and Domestic Chaplain at Buckingham Palace. The Almonry chief responsibility appears to be Keeper of the Privy Purse for the annual Maundy Easter service. News reports in 2002 indicated that two tax payer-funded royal charity funds (the Royal Bounty and Special Services Fund and the Royal Charity Fund) were to be wound down. Despite the name, they were administed by the primeminister. They do not include the Royal Almonry. The Almonry still arranges for gifts to be distributed at Easter in addition to small grants to be distributed as 'Gate Alms'. The name derives from alms once distributed at the gate of the monarch's residence. The Royal Almonry is perhaps best known for arranging the Royal Maundy Service. This includes collecting nominations for recipients and distribution purses of Maundy money.


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Created: 2:25 AM 3/1/2005
Last updated: 2:25 AM 3/1/2005