To mark the coronation of King Charles III, Lambeth Palace and Lambeth Palace Library collections are bringing you an exhibition of materials relating to previous coronations from that of Henry I in 1100 to that of our new sovereign.
The Library exhibition will run from 12 April to 13 July 2023 with highlights that include the manuscript coronation service prepared for William III and Mary II, Archbishop Wake’s notes for the coronation of George II, a letter from George VI thanking Archbishop Lang for his part in the coronation ceremony, and the Bible upon which Elizabeth II swore her coronation oath.
Until 14 June 2023 the Library will host a display of artefacts from the Palace collections used in previous coronations, including the cope and mitre worn by Archbishop Fisher in 1953 and the large banners from the 1902 coronation from which Archbishop Frederick Temple had to read the service because of his failing eyesight.
This exhibition runs from 12 April to 13 July 2023 and can be visited 9:30 to 17:00 Monday to Friday. Saturday 13 May, 3 June and 8 July from 10:00 to 17:00. Admission is free. Please note that the Reading Room is closed on Monday 1 May and Monday 8 May for the Bank Holidays and is also closed on Thursday 4 May and Friday 5 May.
Coronation Charter of Henry I
Shown here is a copy of the first surviving English Coronation Charter, which was cited as a precedent for Magna Carta by Archbishop Stephen Langton in 1215. Dating from more than a century before Magna Carta, it was issued by Henry I, the youngest son of William the Conqueror who came to the throne after the death of his brother William Rufus. Despite his older brother Robert Curthose’s claims to the throne Henry was elected King by a group of barons at Winchester and was crowned at Westminster on 5 August 1100. In the charter issued at that time, Henry swore to maintain the freedom and privileges of the Church and rectify the injustices that had been perpetrated by his brother.
MS 1212 p.97v-98r., Cartulary of the See of Canterbury
A sketch of the procession usually observed in coronation of our Kings & Queens together with a Plan pointing out several new paths and their parts adjacent(London, 1761)
Part of a pamphlet arguing for a change to the route of the procession for the coronation of George III, suggesting alternatives which might be ‘more commodious and proper’. The procession between Westminster Hall and Westminster Abbey was the only part of the ceremony visible to the general public and attracted a large crowd. Despite proposals such as those detailed in this pamphlet, the procession followed a short route through New Palace Yard, along Parliament Street, Bridge Street and King Street to the west door of the abbey.
MS 1083c, The Coronation
Facsimile of a photograph from Edward VII’s coronation, showing Frederick Temple with his sons, Frederick Charles (left) and William, a future Archbishop of Canterbury, (right). 1902. [Above Left]
Frederick Temple’s entrance ticket to the coronation ceremony. 1902. [Above Right]
MS 4514 ff. 279-280, Papers relating to the career of Frederick Temple
On 9 August 1902, Edward VII was crowned at a ceremony in Westminster Abbey. The original date was postponed for several weeks while the king convalesced from surgery. There were also grave concerns regarding the health of Frederick Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury. At 80 years old, both his eyesight and physical strength were in serious decline.
Special prompts were printed on boards in huge font to accommodate his deteriorating eyesight. The king even suggested that the service be shortened and insisted that the queen should be crowned by the Archbishop of York, William Maclagan, as Temple was so frail. Throughout the coronation the king kept muttering, ‘I am very anxious about the archbishop.’
The form and order of the service that is to be performed and the ceremonies that are to be observed in the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II(London, 1953)
Archbishop Fisher was responsible for drawing up the Coronation Rite but did not do so alone. He was advised by a committee comprising several liturgical scholars, and Dr Alan Don, Dean of Westminster. Shown here is one of the proofs of the text of the service with annotations and corrections throughout in Fisher’s own hand. This was the ninth and final proof and Fisher annotated the cover with ‘Final text for printers’.
The book is open at the point where the Queen makes her Oblation (gift at the altar) and the Archbishop prays for the Duke of Edinburgh and then blesses him. The Queen and Archbishop Fisher were keen for the Duke of Edinburgh to have a role in the service and where possible amendments were made to the ceremonial to reflect this, the most significant of which was that the Archbishop gave up his right to be the first to pay homage to the Queen, in favour of the Duke.
KA113 1953 [P]
Coronation … Ceremonial detail. Notes and Plans (London, 1953)
The preamble to the volume of notes and plans shown here states that it was produced ‘with a view to shortening of the length the ceremony … and to ensuring as far as is possible, a smooth and dignified sequence of movement.’ Furthermore, it states that if the participants studied it closely it would ensure that ‘there should be no need for haste, no confusion of movement, and plenty of room in which to move and manoeuvre.’ Preparations were meticulous. Between 14 May and 1 June rehearsals were held almost daily, with the Queen attending several. Indeed, while Fisher reported a few minor errors at the ceremony, the day went extremely smoothly. Alan Don, the Dean of Westminster was impressed by Fisher, writing that ‘his voice was clear, his articulation unaffected, mastery of detail complete.’
Shown here is the positions and movements of the participants at the Anointing. The Queen is represented by the circle with the capital S and the Archbishop by the circle with the capital C. In the left-hand margin are notes in Archbishop Fisher’s hand.
This book was presented to the Library by Lady Fisher in 1982.
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