In the lead up to King Charles III’s coronation on Saturday 6 May, the coronation chair underwent a number of refurbishments to ensure that it's in top shape.
Charles and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, are set to formally celebrate their ascension to the throne in a religious ceremony at London’s Westminster Abbey. The centrepiece of the ceremony sees the crowning of the new King as he sits on the historic coronation chair.
Charles will follow in the footsteps of many famous monarchs from history including King Henry VIII, Queen Victoria and his late mother Queen Elizabeth II. The chair has been described by conservator Krista Blessley as “the oldest surviving piece of furniture still used for its original purpose”.
But how old is the coronation chair and what condition is it in ahead of the big event? Here is everything you need to know.
How old is King Charles III’s coronation chair?
According to Westminster Abbey, the coronation chair was made by order of King Edward I to enclose the famous Stone of Scone which he brought from Scotland in 1296. Edward had a magnificent oaken chair made to contain the stone between 1300 and 1301. This means that the royal chair is over 720 years old. In its original medieval form, the chair was covered with gold leaf gilding and coloured glass with patterns of birds, foliage, animals, saints and a king.
History of the coronation chair
The chair stands at a height of 2.05m (6 feet 9 inches) and the Stone of Scone stands facing the Altar. According to Westminster Abbey, the chair has been in use at every coronation ceremony since 1308, although opinion is divided as to whether it was always used for the crowning, but this was the case from 1399 onwards when Henry IV ascended the throne.
Graffiti and damage
Over the years the chair has suffered from wear and tear and it was subject to graffiti from local Westminster schoolboys and tourists during the 18th and 19th centuries. One visitor carved “P Abbott slept in this chair 5-6 July 1800” on the seat.
Subsequently, the chair was damaged in a bomb attack in 1914, which was attributed to suffragettes campaigning for women’s right to vote.
What has been said about the chair?
Conservator Krista Blessley has been assigned the task of restoring the chair to its previous glory ahead of the coronation. She says she is very proud to work on such an “exquisite example” of medieval craftsmanship
However, Blessey described the chair as “extremely fragile.”
She said: “It’s extremely fragile. It has a complex layer structure, which means the gilding layers often flake off, so a lot of work is sticking those layers of gliding back down, making sure it’s completely sound before the coronation.”
Blessey has been working on the chair for a total of four months in preparation for the big occasion.
She added: “If there are little changes in humidity the wood moves, and if that complex layer structure moves - new areas will lift. I might consolidate something this month, then in two months it might need to consolidate again.”