To Have and to Hold: The History of the Lovespoon

By Ali Williams.

Wrexham has a storied past: one full of love, heartbreak, war, triumph, and a rich community. One such artefact that has been passed down like the stories of Wrexham’s history is the tradition of the lovespoon which dates back to the seventeenth century. The lovespoon is a symbol of Welsh folklore, love, and history. Made with patience and careful thought, the Welsh lovespoon will forever be an artefact important to Wrexham’s past.

Folklore and Origin

The first documented lovespoon dates all the way back to 1667 and is displayed in the National Museum in Cardiff. The carved wooden spoons were said to be tokens of love from a man to his maiden, hence the namesake lovespoon states the National Museum.“The calibre of the spoons is testimony to the makers’ skill and devotion in creating objects intended to be treasured by their recipients.” Similar to the Irish tradition of the Claddagh ring, the spoons were tokens of admiration from a single man to a single lady and were meant as a piece to cherish from one lover to the other. Different from the Claddagh ring that has only three traditional symbols, the lovespoon has a variety of symbols and signs in which the man could carve in to portray a variety of meanings.

The Curation of the Masterpiece

A piece as ornate and customised as Welsh lovespoon requires craft and careful skill. Curated from a single piece of wood such as sycamore, they are carved with close attention with a single carving knife. A true act of love, these spoons are designed with a particular message in mind from the man to the maiden. Kerry Thomas, a specialty carver, explains “You can say a lot with a spoon. Each twist, each knot signifies something important…You put in little bits of stories. You’re putting little messages into your spoons” reports CBS News. A Wrexham man, for example, could have carved a love spoon of promise to his maiden in anticipation before leaving to fight in World War II. Another man might decide perhaps to create a lovespoon for an anniversary gift to represent their life together.

Kerry Thomas creates a lovespoon in Cold Inn, Kilgetty. CBS News

Say it With a Symbol

With their own unique styles and symbols, lovespoons as Thomas explains, have a variety of meanings. No two lovespoons are identical. A ball in cage carving, for example, signifies that the man wishes to have children with the woman in the future according to Adam King. A chain represents loyalty to the other, and can also represent the number of children. A diamond signifies good fortune, a bell for a wedding, and the traditional Welsh knot symbolises entwining of love forever. The symbols are endless just as the unique combinations that a man could create for his lover to cherish.

The lovespoon from old to contemporary, captures a story between two lovers. Nothing says “I love you” quite like a unique creation from one to another.

CBS News

Source: Ali Williams; CBS News for images.