Shoes off please - you can now stand on the spot of King Charles III’s coronation, but with one caveat

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Conservators carry out restoration of Westminster Abbey's Cosmati Pavement on May 6, 2008 in London, England (Credit: Getty Images)Conservators carry out restoration of Westminster Abbey's Cosmati Pavement on May 6, 2008 in London, England (Credit: Getty Images)
Conservators carry out restoration of Westminster Abbey's Cosmati Pavement on May 6, 2008 in London, England (Credit: Getty Images) | Getty Images
The rare mosaic pavement that King Charles III will be crowned on is said to contain cryptic messages of the end of the world.

Have you ever wanted to stand in the very spot where a royal coronation takes place, including that of the forthcoming coronation of Kings Charles III? Well now visitors to Westminster Abbey will be allowed to walk the same length of the building that King Charles III will be walking on May 6 2023 - but like someone’s brand new living room, there is a concession to be made. 

The intricate 13th-century mosaic floor – at the heart of the Abbey’s coronation theatre – has been the site of the crowning of Kings and Queens for more than 700 years. But it is usually covered in carpet, including during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. But for King Charles III, the carpet is being rolled back and groups of 10 are invited to walk across it, but only in their socks.

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Not that tour guides suspect the general public won’t wipe their feet before entering Westminster Abbey, but more to ensure that the stretch of pavement is protected; the intricate geometric patterns on the spot are made of marble, stone, glass and metal, and given their age, nothing is being left to chance. Including the area being soiled ahead of the coronation - visitors will only be able to walk across this stretch, sans footwear, from May 15 2023, after the coronation has been held.

Visitors will be able to ignore this warning, but only if they're in their socks (Credit: Getty Images)Visitors will be able to ignore this warning, but only if they're in their socks (Credit: Getty Images)
Visitors will be able to ignore this warning, but only if they're in their socks (Credit: Getty Images) | Getty Images

The 24ft 10in square pavement was commissioned by Henry III and completed in 1268 as a glittering adornment to his Abbey, but despite its presence in the abbey, “it will be the first time in living memory that the Abbey has invited visitors to walk on the Cosmati pavement where the Coronation Chair will be placed for the crowning of HM The King on Saturday, May 6,” a spokesperson for the Abbey told STV News

The guided tours after the coronation will also explain to visitors some of the cryptic messages hidden within the mosaics, which are considered the best surviving example outside Italy of Cosmati, a rare type of mosaic stonework named after the Italian family who perfected the technique. 

Those inscriptions predicted the end of the world, claiming it would last 19,683 years, with a riddle adding together the life spans of different animals including dogs, horses, men, stags, ravens, eagles and whales. Not an omen for the British royal family in the slightest, we’re sure you’ll agree…

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Other elements of the special programme for Westminster Abbey visitors during this time will include a new exhibition in the Chapter House, which will explain and illustrate the key elements of the coronation service and its artefacts. 

The display opens on April 12 and is included in entry to the Abbey. The Crown and Church tours will run until July 29 and cost £15, plus Abbey entry.

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