In preparation for the coronation on May 6, Westminster Abbey’s art conservator will polish and stabilize the Coronation Chair, which dates back to 1300.
King Charles III will be crowned in a gilded chair with a history dating back more than 700 years.
While the Coronation Chair has served as a focal point for the coronations of British kings such as Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and Elizabeth II, it has not been without incident since it was built circa 1300.
“There is graffiti on the back from local schoolboys and visitors carving their names in the 18th and 19th centuries, and a bomb explosion in 1914 took a small corner off it,” a Westminster Abbey official said in a release Wednesday. “P. Abbott slept on this chair 5-6 July 1800,” one of the letters etched into the chair says.
The chair is now being cleaned and stabilized by Westminster Abbey conservator Krista Blessley in preparation for the coronation on May 6.
“Given its age and use, the chair is in extraordinary condition, and much of the original gilding persists,” said the Abbey announcement about the chair, which was originally covered in gold leaf and is built of oak.
“The finished work will be completely inconspicuous, but it will secure the preservation of these antique decorative layers not just for the Coronation, but for centuries to come,” the Abbey noted.
The chair, commissioned by King Edward I to seat the Stone of Scone (also known as the Stone of Destiny), the ancient coronation stone of Scottish kings, is ornately embellished with tinted glass and painted patterns of birds, greenery, and — appropriately — a king.
While the chair was designed to appear to be solid gold, the shimmering front incorporates complex small dots known as punchwork, and its base — which was redone in the 18th century — is likewise gilded with lions at each corner.
According to the press release, visitors to the Abbey will be able to observe the conservation work taking place on selected days in St. George’s Chapel, which is located in the Abbey’s Nave.
Buckingham Palace stated in October that King Charles’ coronation will take place at Westminster Abbey on May 6, 2023. At the same moment, Queen Camilla will be crowned.
The date is earlier than commonly expected – many believed that Charles would choose a June date as a tribute to the month when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, had her 1953 coronation.
The service will be led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, as has been done for nearly a thousand years.
“The Coronation will reflect the monarch’s current role and look to the future while remaining anchored in long-standing traditions and pageantry,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.