This Week in London – The Crown Jewels (redisplayed); The Troubles at IWM; and, Tate Britain, rehung…
• A new display of the Crown Jewels opens in the Tower of London’s Jewel House tomorrow – the first major change to the display in more than a decade. Opening just weeks after the coronation regalia was used in the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla at Westminster Abbey, the re-presentation of the jewels comes about thanks to a partnership between Historic Royal Palaces and royal jewellers Garrard and is the culmination of a four year project aimed at delving deeper into the history of the collection and coronations. The display, which features images from the recent coronation, starts with a celebration of the timelessness of monarchy featuring the State Crown frames worn by King George I, King George IV and Queen Victoria. It explains how historic jewels including the Black Prince’s Ruby have passed from crown to crown and explores the origins of the current jewels, starting with the destruction of the medieval coronation regalia in 1649. The story of gems including the Koh-i-Noor and Cullinan Diamond will also be explored while at the heart of the display is a room dedicated to the spectacle of the Coronation Procession. It ends with the Treasury containing more than 100 objects including the St Edward’s Crown of 1661, the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross and the Sovereign’s Orb. As an added spectacle, for nine nights in November, the Tower will also host a touring light and sound show, Crown and Coronation, which, created in partnership with Luxmuralis Artist Collaboration, will feature imagery and footage of monarchs and coronations past, along with images of the regalia. Images will be projected on buildings of the Inner Ward including the White Tower. The light and sound show, which will run at the Tower from 17th to 25th November, will tour the UK in 2024. Entry is included in general admission. For more, see www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/whats-on/the-crown-jewels/.
• The almost 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland known as The Troubles is the subject of a new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. Northern Ireland: Living with the Troubles, which opens tomorrow, features familiar objects including rubber bullets, propaganda posters and a Good Friday Agreement booklet as well as rarer items such as a screen-printed handkerchief made by UVF paramilitaries in the Long Kesh internment camp. There will also be the chance to hear first-hand testimonies including from republican and loyalist paramilitaries as well as British soldiers, local police and ordinary civilians, and the opportunity to see archival photography depicting hunger strike riots, army checkpoints and bomb wreckage. Admission is free. Runs until 7th January. For more, see www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-london.
•Tate Britain has completed a complete rehang of its free collection displays – the first for 10 years. Visitors can see more than 800 works by 350 artists including iconic treasures such as John Everett Millais’ Ophelia (pictured above), William Hogarth’s The Painter and his Pug, David Hockney’s A Bigger Splash, Barbara Hepworth’s Pelago and Chris Ofili’s No Woman, No Cry. The collection also includes more than 100 works by JMW Turner, rooms devoted to such luminaries as William Blake, John Constable, the Pre-Raphaelites and Henry Moore, and a series of changing solo displays exploring other ground-breaking artists such as Annie Swynnerton, Richard Hamilton, Aubrey Williams and Zineb Sedira. Some 70 of the works in the collection – ranging from Tudor portraits to contemporary installations – which have been acquired in the last five years alone. For more, see www.tate.org.uk.
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10 historic vessels in London’s Thames…1. PS Tattershall Castle…
HMS Belfast is one of London’s star tourist sites. But what are some of the other vessels moored in the Thames? In this series, we’re taking a look at the history behind 10 other vessels, starting with PS Tattershall Castle.
Now a floating restaurant moored off Victoria Embankment, the steam-driven, steel-hulled PS Tattershall Castle was constructed by the West Hartlepool-based company William Gray & Company as a ferry. Its name comes from a castle in Lincolnshire built in the first half of the 15th century/
Launched on 25th September, 1934, with a license to carry 1,000 people, the 209 foot-long ferry was one of three sister ships – the others being the PS Wingfield Castle (now a museum ship in Hartlepool) and the PS Lincoln Castle – which were built to transport passengers along the Humber between Kingston upon Hull, in Yorkshire, and New Holland, in Lincolnshire. It could make eight trips a day and could carry vehicles and livestock.
World War II broke out not long after her launch and the ferry was used to transport troops and supplies along the Humber. Due to the heavy fogs on the river, the Tattershall Castle became one of the first civilian vessels to be equipped with radar.
Following the war and the 1948 nationalisation of the railways, the PS Tattershall Castle became part of part of British Rail’s Sealink service. In 1973, the vessel, with repairs deemed too costly, was retired from service.
Subsequently towed to London, the PS Tattershall Castle was converted into a floating art gallery which was formally opened by the Lord Mayor of London on 27th February, 1975.
In 1981, the former ferry was acquired by the Chef & Brewer Group. After some repairs on the River Medway, she was opened in 1982 as a bar restaurant.
There have been several refits since, the most recent being in 2015, when the former ferry was returned to Hull for some £1.5 million work to be carried out. The former ferry is typically moored off Victoria Embankment opposite the London Eye.
For bookings, head to www.thetattershallcastle.co.uk.
LondonLife – Scenes from Chelsea…
The Chelsea Flower Show returned to London this week with King Charles III making his first visit to the show as monarch and tributes in honour of his coronation and the passing of Queen Elizabeth II last year. The show runs until 27th May. For more, see www.rhs.org.uk/chelsea.
Where’s London’s oldest…cash machine location?…
Recently listed at Grade II by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, a Barclays Bank in the northern London suburb of Enfield was the first in the world to be fitted with an automatic teller machine or ATM as we know them.
The prototype machine was devised by John Shepherd-Barron, managing director at banknote manufacturer De La Rue and required the customer to insert a special paper voucher punched with dots corresponding to their four digit PIN (the PIN featured four digits because Shepherd-Barron, who had initially proposed using six, heeded the words of wife after she told him she couldn’t recall more than four).
The bank, located at 20 The Town, was selected for a range of reasons, including that it has good pavement access, high windows and was close to Barclays head office.
The ATM was officially opened on 27th June, 1967, by Barclays deputy chairman Sir Thomas Bland while actor and comedian Reg Varney made the first £10 withdrawal.
The red brick bank where the machine was located was built in 1897 and designed by William Gilbee Scott in a style architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner described as “exuberant Flemish Renaissance”.
Barclays celebrated the 50th anniversary of the installation in 2017 with the installation of a plaque and by turning one of the existing cash machines at the Enfield branch gold.
This Week in London – ‘Indo + Caribbean’; 19th century China explored; and, animals, art, science and sound at the British Library…
• A new exhibition examining the history of Indian indenture in the British Caribbean and Indo-Caribbean culture in London today opens at the Museum of London Docklands from tomorrow. Indo + Caribbean: The creation of a culture puts a spotlight on the 450,000 Indians who left India between 1838 and 1917 to work for periods of three to five years on Caribbean plantations in return for transport, a minimal wage and some basic provisions. Among the objects on show are letters from Caribbean planter Sir John Gladstone petitioning the government to provide workers from India as well as contracts, shipping company records, postcards, and papers from the Parliamentary Archives that give insights into the realities of life under indenture. Also on display are photos, jewellery, film and artwork which uncover personal stories and family memories from London’s Indo-Caribbean community. Admission to the exhibition in the London, Sugar and Slavery gallery is free. For more, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk.
• The resilience and creativity of people in 19th century China is explored in a new exhibition at the British Museum which opens today. The Citi exhibition China’s hidden century examines the age of the Qing Dynasty, which ruled from 1796 to 1912, and focuses on a spectrum of different groups in society – from members of the court and military to artists and writers, farmers and city-dwellers as well as the globalised communities of merchants, scientists and diplomats, reformers and revolutionaries. Among the more than 300 objects on display are a water-proof straw cape made for a street worker, farmer or fisherman which is being publicly displayed for the first time, cloisonné vases given by the Last Emperor’s court to King George and Queen Mary for their coronation in 1911, and, a silk robe which belonged to the Empress Dowager Cixi, de facto ruler of China from 1861 to 1908 and a contemporary of Queen Victoria. Admission charge applies. Runs in the Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery until 8th October. For more, see britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/chinas-hidden-century.
• The intersection between science, art and sound and how that impacts our understanding of the natural world is explored in an exhibition at the British Library. Animals: Art, Science and Sound features 120 artworks, manuscripts, sound recordings and books, many of which are on display for the first time. They include the earliest known illustrated Arabic scientific work documenting the characteristics of animals alongside their medical uses (c1225), the earliest use of the word ‘shark’ in printed English (1569), Leonardo da Vinci’s notes (1500-08) on the impact of wind on a bird in flight, and one of the rarest ichthyology publications ever produced, The Fresh-Water Fishes of Great Britain (1828-38), which features hand-painted illustrations by Sarah Bowdich. Also present is the first commercially published recording of an animal from 1910 titled Actual Bird Record Made by a Captive Nightingale (No. I) by The Gramophone Company Limited and one of the earliest portable bat detectors – the Holgate Mk VI – used by amateur naturalist John Hooper during the 1960s-70s to capture some of the first sound recordings of British bats. The exhibition, which runs until 28th August and which carries an admission charge, is accompanied by two free displays at the library – Animal Rights: From the Margins to the Mainstream (runs to 9th July) and Microsculpture (runs to 20th November). For more, see www.bl.uk/events/animals.
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LondonLife – The Tower and City of London from another angle…
London Pub Signs – The King’s Head, Mayfair…
It’s a pub dedicated to a king – but which one?
Located at 10 Stafford Street (within walking distance of current royal residences at Buckingham and St James’s Palace), this pub dates back to at least 1710 and has gone through several name changes including, apparently, Shelley’s Hotel and The King John’s Head, but has now returned to its original name of the King’s Head.
While some believe the name refers to King Charles II, there’s another school of thought that says the pub was named for King George II.
With the dispute still apparently live, the owners have cleverly opted to depict the heads of both kings on the pub’s signs.
The pub, which features a cellar bar, is one of a number named The King’s Head in London (we’ll take a look at some others in upcoming posts).
Now part of the Nicholson’s chain. For more, see https://www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/restaurants/london/thekingsheadmayfairlondon.
This Week in London – Luxury and power in the ancient world; St Francis of Assisi; and, St Bart’s 900 year history…
• The relationship between luxury and power in the ancient world is explored in a new exhibition at the British Museum. Luxury and power: Persia to Greece focuses on the period between 550-30 BC in the Middle East and south-east Europe, a period during which the Persian empire of ancient Iran clashed with the cities and kingdoms of Greece before it was conquered by Alexander the Great. Highlights include Bulgaria’s Panagyurishte Treasure which, on loan, consists of nine richly decorated Persian gold vessels including eight rhyta used to pour wine and one bowl to drink it. There’s also a Persian gilt silver rhyton shaped as a griffin, Athenian examples of drinking vessels, and, a gold wreath from Turkey which consists of two branches with a bee with two cicadas and showcases how styles evolved into the period after the death of Alexander in 323 BC. The exhibition in the Joseph Hotung Great Court Gallery can be seen until 13th August. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.britishmuseum.org/luxuryandpower.
• The first major art exhibition to explore the life and legacy of Saint Francis of Assisi has opened at The National Gallery. Saint Francis of Assisi, which features works spanning the period from the 13th century to today, includes 40 works, ranging from medieval painted panels to relics, manuscripts and even a Marvel comic book. Highlights include Francisco de Zurbarán’s Saint Francis in Meditation (1635‒9), Antony Gormley’s Untitled (for Francis) (1985), Sandro Botticelli’s Saint Francis of Assisi with Angels (about 1475‒80 – pictured), El Greco’s Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata (1590‒5), Giovanni Costa’s Frate Francesco e Frate Sole (1878‒86), and Matthew Paris’ drawings in the Chronica maiora, which present some of the earliest English depictions of Saint Francis. There’s also a relic of Francis’s habit from Santa Croce, Florence, and a small section of the exhibition is dedicated to Saint Clare, one of the first followers of Francis. The exhibition in the Ground Floor Galleries can be seen until 30th June. Admission is free. For more, see nationalgallery.org.uk.
• England’s oldest hospital, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, is being celebrated in an outdoor exhibition in the City of London. Founded in 1123 – 900 years ago this year, the history of the hospital is being being told using photographs, art, and history drawn from Barts Health NHS Trust Archives’ extensive collections. The display can be seen in Guildhall Yard until 6th June after which it will move to Aldgate Square until 5th July before finally moving to St Bartholomew’s Hospital Square until 1st August. The exhibition is part of Barts900. For more on the programme of events, see Barts900 website.
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LondonLife – Coronation moments…
Some more images from the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on the weekend…
The coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla…
LondonLife Special – (More) coronation preparations…
The Burlington Arcade rolls out the red carpet with the new King’s cipher. PICTURE: Matt Brown (licensed under CC BY 2.0)
This Week in London – It’s Coronation weekend!…
• It’s Coronation weekend in London, so first up it’s a look at the Coronation Procession. The 1.42 mile route from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, which opens for viewers at 6am on Saturday, will see the procession – with King Charles III and Queen Camilla travelling in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach – leave Buckingham Palace at 10:20am. Known as The King’s Procession, the coach, which will be accompanied by The Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry, will travel down The Mall, through Admiralty Arch and past Trafalgar Square, before turning down Whitehall. The procession will then make its way down to the Houses of Parliament and around the east and south sides of Parliament Square to Broad Sanctuary and Westminster Abbey.
• The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11am and is expected to run for two hours. There is, of course, no access to the abbey for uninvited guests but the ceremony will be broadcast live by the BBC and big screens are being set up to watch in St James’s Park, Green Park and Hyde Park as well as Holland Park, Valence Park in Dagenham and Walpole Park in Ealing.
• At 1pm, the King and Queen will return from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace in The Coronation Procession. They will be riding in the 260-year-old Gold State Coach that has been used in every coronation since that of William IV and accompanied by almost 4,000 members of the armed forces in what’s been called the largest ceremonial military operation in recent decades. Representatives of Commonwealth nations and British Overseas Territories will also take part in the return procession. The route will be the reverse of the outgoing route and see the procession travel back through Parliament Square (lined with an honour guard of 100 members of the Royal British Legion) and up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, turning left to travel through Admiralty Arch and back down The Mall. Reaching Buckingham Palace, the King and Queen will receive a Royal Salute from the armed forces who have been escorting them followed by three cheers.
• The balcony appearance and flypast. The newly crowned King and Queen Consort are scheduled to appear on the famous balcony on Buckingham Palace at 2.30pm accompanied by members of the royal family. They will watch a six minute flypast of military planes, ending with a display by the Red Arrows.
• On Sunday, communities are invited to join in the Coronation Big Lunch (communities will also be holding street parties throughout the weekend). On Sunday night, the BBC will broadcast The Coronation Concert from Windsor Castle. The concert will feature the Coronation Choir as well as ‘Lighting Up The Nation’ in which locations across the UK will take part. For details on where events are being held, head to https://coronation.gov.uk/events/.
• On Monday, people are encouraged to join in The Big Help Out by volunteering time to help out in your local community. To find out where your local events are, head to https://thebighelpout.org.uk.
Four sites related to royal coronations in London – 4. Buckingham Palace…
Buckingham Palace will play an important role in this weekend’s coronation of King Charles III – not only as the location from which he and Queen Camilla will leave for the ceremony, but also for the famous balcony appearance.
Monarchs have only been living at the palace since 1837 when Queen Victoria moved in and it has been the official London residence of kings and queens ever since (although it should be noted that since becoming King, Charles has reportedly continued to reside at Clarence House and apparently intends continuing to do so following the coronation).
The palace has been in royal hands since 1761 when King George III bought what was then Buckingham House for the use of his wife Queen Charlotte, given, in particular, its proximity to St James’s Palace where court was held. Hence it become known as the Queen’s House.
King George IV intended using it the same way but in the 1820s had a change of heart and decided, with the aid of architect John Nash, to transform it into a palace. The ballooning work was unfinished when he died, and his successor and younger brother, King William IV, replaced Nash with Edward Blore to complete the work (thanks, apparently, to Nash’s budget blow-outs).
But William didn’t move into the property (in fact, he offered it up as a new home for parliament after much of the old Houses of Parliament were consumed by fire in 1834 – an offer which was not taken up).
Queen Victoria, however, decided to make it her home and she became the first monarch to leave the palace headed to a coronation when she did so in June, 1838.
Victoria also made the first balcony appearance by a monarch at the palace, doing so during celebrations to make the opening of the Great Exhibition in 1851.
But the first balcony appearance by a monarch immediately after their coronation was her son King Edward VII, who appeared on the balcony with his wife Queen Alexandra, to the joy of onlookers following his coronation on 9th August, 1901. Every monarch since has done so after their coronation (King Edward VIII, of course, never having had a coronation).
The King’s mother, Queen Elizabeth II, was the first monarch to watch a flypast on the balcony after her coronation, a tradition the King is expected to continue.
Buckingham Palace has also been the site of Coronation Banquets since the coronation of Queen Victoria (when it replaced Westminster Hall as the location). Queen Elizabeth held two Coronation Banquets in the palace following her coronation on 3rd and 4th June, each attended by 400 guests.
Few details have yet been released about King Charles III’s Coronation Banquet.
LondonLife – Coronation preparations…
This Week in London – Three of London’s oldest charters on show and other coronation celebrations; Sir Christopher Wren’s life explored; and, a Pre-Raphaelite model and artist honoured…
• Three of the City of London’s oldest charters go on display at the City of London Heritage Gallery on Saturday as part of a series of events commemorating the coronation of King Charles III. On display will be the William Charter, which, drawn up in 1067 following the coronation of King William the Conqueror, was the earliest known royal document in Europe to guarantee the collective rights of all people in a town and not just a select few. Also to be seen is the Shrievalty Charter, which, issued by King John in 1199, confirms the rights of Londoners to elect their own sheriffs, and the Mayoralty Charter, which, also issued by King John – this time in 1215, confirmed that the Mayor of London could also chosen by Londoners with the proviso that they were publicly presented. Visitors can also see the beautifully illustrated Cartae Antiquae which records charters and statutes covering laws enacted from the reign of Edward III (1327 onwards) to the accession of Henry VII in 1485 and was used as an essential reference tool by City officials, as well as prints of the 19th century coronations of Queen Victoria, King William IV and King George IV. Admission is free but booking is recommended. Runs until 5th October. For more, see www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/events/heritage-gallery-exhibition.
• Other events marking the coronation kick off in the City of London in the coming week. Among the extensive list of activities is a pop-up well-being garden in Seething Lane where you can pose for pictures with a floral crown installation, a guided walking tour of the City entitled ‘1000 Years of Royalty – the Best, the Worst and the Very Horribilus’, and a “Cockney knees-up” with Pearly King and Pearly Prince at Leadenhall Market. For more details and the full list of events, head to www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/events/coronation.
• A new exhibition commemorating the expansive career of Sir Christopher Wren opens today in St Paul’s Cathedral – the extraordinary building designed by Wren to replace the medieval cathedral destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 Part of a series of events marking the 300th anniversary of the death of Sir Christopher in 1723, Sir Christopher Wren: The Quest for Knowledge explores not only his early life and career as an architect but also his lesser-known contributions to the fields of mathematics, astronomy and physiology. The display, located in the north aisle of the crypt, features drawings, photographs and objects from the cathedral’s collections. Entry to the exhibition is included in general admission. For more, see www.stpauls.co.uk/whats-on/exhibition-christopher-wren-quest-for-knowledge.
• The Pre-Raphaelite model and artist, Marie Spartali Stillman, has been honoured with an English Heritage Blue Plaque at what was her family home in Battersea. It was while living at The Shrubbery – a 1770s Grade II-listed property now located on Lavender Gardens – that Stillman first modelled for Pre-Raphaelite artists. Tutored by Ford Madox Brown, she went on to become one of a small number of professional women artists in the late 19th century, creating more than 150 works over a period spanning 50 years. Stillman is the first female Pre-Raphaelite artist and one of only very few female artists to receive a Blue Plaque. For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/blue-plaques/.
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Four sites related to royal coronations in London – 3. Westminster Abbey…
Westminster Abbey has been centre-stage at coronations since at least the Norman Conquest.
William the Conqueror set the precedent for coronations at the abbey when he decided not to get crowned at Winchester Cathedral (where Edward the Confessor had been crowned) and instead chose to be crowned at the minster built by Edward the Confessor (there is some suggestion King Harold Godwinson, the last Saxon King, was crowned at Westminster Abbey before the Conquest but no documentary evidence exists for this).
William the Conqueror’s coronation was held on Christmas Day, 1066, and since then some 39 coronations have been carried out (King Charles III’s will be the 40th).
Arrangements for the coronation ceremony are the responsibility of the Earl Marshal and the coronation committee but the abbey’s dean acts as a liaison with the sovereign and assists the Archbishop of Canterbury who is usually the bishop who crowns the monarch.
Since the late 14th century, the service has largely followed that laid down in the Liber Regalis (Royal Book), an illuminated manuscript created in around 1390.
Since 1308, the heart of the coronation service has taken place on the Cosmati Pavement, located just before the High Altar, in what is known as the “Coronation Theatre”.
Having processed into the abbey and been acclaimed or “recognised” as sovereign by those present, the monarch then makes promises to God and the people they rule in what is known as the Oath, before being presented with a Bible.
Then, seated in the Coronation Chair, the monarch is anointed with holy oil while a canopy is held over them to shield this most sacred part of the ceremony from the eyes of those gathered.
Still seated, the monarch is then invested with the coronation regalia, including the Sovereign’s Ring, the Sovereign’s Orb, the Sceptre with Cross and the Sceptre with Dove, before St Edward’s Crown is brought from the altar and placed on the monarch’s head (it’s only since that coronation of King James I in 1603 that both the anointing and the crowning are carried out while the monarch is seated on the Coronation Chair – before that, the chair was used for only one aspect of the ceremony).
The monarch then moves to a throne and receives the homage of the royal princes and senior peers. It’s at this point that the coronation of a Queen Consort typically takes place in a simpler form of the ceremony.
The monarch then retires into St Edward’s Chapel where they dress on a purple robe known as the Imperial State Robe or Robe of Estate as well as the Imperial State Crown before processing back out through the abbey.
Other elements of the coronation include music which since the Coronation of King George II has included the George Fredric Handel anthem, Zadok the Priest. The introit I was glad has been sung at every coronation since that of King Charles I in February, 1626.
The abbey is currently closed in preparation for the Coronation of King Charles III. It reopens on Monday, 8th May. The Coronation Theatre will remain in place for visitors to see until 13th May.
WHERE: Westminster Abbey, Westminster (nearest Tube station is Westminster or St James’s Park); WHEN: Open to tourists everyday except Sunday (times vary so check the website); COST: £27 an adult/£24 for seniors (65+)/£12 a child (6-17 years); WEBSITE: www.westminster-abbey.org.
LondonLife – Rush hour, St Pancras…
Moments in London’s history – Five (more) unusual facts about royal coronations past…
Following last week’s unusual facts, here’s five more…
• The coronation of King William I (aka William the Conqueror) was marred by riots. The new King had chosen to be crowned in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day, 1066, in a display of power (kings had in the past been crowned in Winchester). But when shouts of support for the new king were mistakenly thought to be an assassination attempt, Norman soldiers outside the abbey began setting fire to nearby houses, causing the abbey to fill with smoke and the congregation to flee while outside people rioted. William nonetheless ensured the service was completed.
• Henry, the eldest son of King Henry II, had a coronation service at Westminster Abbey while his father was still monarch – the only instance of this occurring. While crowning the heir during the lifetime of the monarch was a more common practice in France, it was not so in England. But in an effort to settle the succession, King Henry II had Henry crowned on 14th June, 1170. Sadly Henry, known as Henry the Young King, did not live to succeed his father but died at just the age of 28 in 1183 after contracting dysentery while campaigning with his younger brother Richard (later King Richard I) against their father. King Henry II died on 6th July, 1189, and was succeeded by Richard.
• There has only been one coronation in the abbey in which two monarchs were crowned at the same time. After King James II was deposed, William of Orange and his wife Mary were jointly invited to rule in what was known as the Glorious Revolution. They were crowned together at Westminster Abbey on 11th April, 1689. King William III sat in the Coronation Chair while another chair was specifically made for Queen Mary II, and, while the king was crowned using the traditional regalia, a special set of regalia was made for Mary.
• Only two of King Henry VIII’s six wives had coronations. Catherine of Aragon was crowned alongside the King on 24th June, 1509 (she sat on a lower chair). Anne Boleyn, meanwhile, was crowned on 1st June, 1533. Interestingly, she was crowned with St Edward’s Crown which had up until then only been used to crown the monarch. Jane Seymour died before she could be crowned (there had been plague in London at the time she married Henry), while his marriage with Anne of Cleves was annulled before she could be crowned and Catherine Howard was executed before any coronation took place. By the time the king married Catherine Parr, he was ageing and ill and a coronation was unlikely to be high on his agenda.
• King Henry VI is the youngest monarch to have been crowned at Westminster Abbey. He was aged just eight-years-old when he was crowned on 6th November, 1429, having become king at the age of just eight-months-old when his father, King Henry V, died on 31st August, 1422 (other children to have been crowned in the abbey include King Edward VI, who was just nine at his coronation). King Charles III – whose coronation will take place on 6th May – will be the oldest monarch to have been crowned at the abbey.
Correction: We’ve corrected the position of the two Catherines after the names were accidentally transposed.
This Week in London – Georgian fashion; Shakespeare’s First Folio; what’s new at the British Museum…
• The only royal wedding dress that survives from the Georgian period – the silk embroidered bridal gown of Princess Charlotte of Wales, daughter of King George IV – is one of the star sights at a new exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. Style and Society: Dressing the Georgians features more than 200 works from the Royal Collection including rare surviving examples of clothing and accessories as well as artworks by artists such as Gainsborough, Zoffany and Hogarth. Other highlights include a portrait of the wedding ceremony of George IV and Princess Caroline of Brunswick by John Graham – on display for the first time – as well as the original silver and gold dress samples supplied for the bride and other royal guests. There’s also a Thomas Gainsborough,’ depicting’s full-length portrait of Queen Charlotte wearing a magnificent court gown, a preserved gown of similar style worn at Queen Charlotte’s court in the 1760, and life-size coronation portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte by Allan Ramsay. Other items include a 1782 portrait of Prince Octavius, the 13th child of George III and Queen Charlotte, by Benjamin West in which the three-year-old wears a a style of dress known as a ‘skeleton suit’, jewellery including diamond rings given to Queen Charlotte on her wedding day and a bracelet with nine lockets – one with a miniature of the left eye of Princess Charlotte of Wales, and accessories such as a silver-gilt travelling toilet service acquired by the future George IV as a gift for his private secretary at a cost of £300. The exhibition can be seen until 8th October. Admission charges apply. For more, see www.rct.uk.
• One of the finest copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio goes on display at the City of London’s Guildhall Library for just one day on Monday, 24th April, as part of the celebrations surrounding the 400th anniversary of its publication. The document will be on display between 10.30am to 3.30pm with a 10-minute introductory talk given on the hour throughout the day. Two small and original copies (‘Quartos’) of Henry IV Part One and Othello will also be on display, next to a replica copy of the First Folio that visitors can look through. The First Folio brought together 36 plays in one volume and was published in an edition of around 750 copies on 8th November, 1623 – seven years after Shakespeare’s death. It is now regarded as one of the most valuable books in the literary world. For more, see www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/history-and-heritage/guildhall-library.
• Prints and drawings acquired by the British Museum over the past five years have gone on show in Room 90. New acquisitions: Paul Bril to Wendy Red Star features works ranging from an early 17th-century study for a fresco by the Flemish artist Paul Bril to 19th century drawings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 2019 prints by the Apsáalooke (Crow) artist Wendy Red Star and Cornelia Parker’s From H to B and back again – made during with the COVID-19 pandemic. Can be seen until 10th September. Admission is free. For more, see britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/new-acquisitions-paul-bril-wendy-red-star.
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