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Monuments Men film brings Hollywood royalty to Cambridge airbase

The Cambridge institution, the Imperial War Museum Duxford, plays a starring role in new Hollywood hit film, The Monuments Men.

Britain magazine

Matt Damon, Hugh Bonneville and George Clooney on set at Duxford

The famous airbase of Duxford has seen its fair share of heroes throughout its history, but thanks to a new film set during WWII, it is now welcoming stars from Hollywood. Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Hugh Bonneville descended on the Cambridge airbase to film George Clooney’s latest film, The Monuments Men.

The critically-acclaimed cast filmed at Duxford over a nine-day period, during which time WWII aircraft and vehicles were brought in to set the scene along with over 300 extras.

Britain Magazine

Jean Dujardin in The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men tells the story of an Allied group in WWII who were tasked with rescuing masterpieces of art that had been stolen by the Nazis. The film is based on the book of the same name by Robert M Edsel.

The Imperial War Museum Duxford is Britain’s largest aviation museum and is set within the renowned airfield, which was used during WWI and WWII. The museum is home to over 200 aircraft as well as tanks, military vehicles and boats.

The Monuments Men opens in the UK on Friday 14 February.

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The Royal Family was not the only British institution to gain a new addition in 2013 – the Royal Mint also produced a number of coins to commemorate the birth of the future monarch.

A £20 coin to celebrate the birth of Prince George of Cambridge and a kilo coin to celebrate his christening were added to the Royal Mint’s collection last year and these two coins were among the selection that were tested at the Royal Mint’s ancient ceremony, the Trial of the Pyx, yesterday in London.

The Trial of the Pyx is one of the oldest quality assurance trials in the world; the first public record of the trial dates back to 1248.

At the trial, jury members selected from the Liverymen of the Goldsmiths’ Company check the quality of the coins. Members are presented with Pyx boxes (Pyx is the Roman word for chest), which contain samples of all circulating and commemorative coins produced by The Royal Mint in the previous year, and these coins are put on trial to ascertain the accuracy of their quality.

For centuries the coins have been weighed, checked and examined, although ancient legislation was much harsher than it is today. The blame for any issues with quality and accuracy lie with the Master of the Mint (today a role held by the Chancellor of the Exchequer), and in 1318, one master was sent to prison for six weeks, (even Sir Isaac Newton was questioned during his time as Master of the Mint when the integrity of his coin samples was questioned). Thankfully in modern times punishments are less stiff.

The Trial of the Pyx continues to be an important part of the Royal Mint’s production and helps the Royal Mint to hold on to its international reputation for excellence in its production of coins.

Dating back 1100 years, the Royal Mint makes coins and medals for around 60 countries each year, making it the leading export mint in the world.

To learn more about The Royal Mint’s coins please visit royalmint.com.

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