Visitors can stand on exact spot King Charles will be crowned for first time - but only in socks
The 13th century mosaic floor has been the site of the crowning of Kings and Queens for more than 700 years
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Special guided “barefoot” tours in celebration of the 6 May coronation will include access to the Cosmati pavement - one of Britain’s greatest medieval art treasures - which is usually roped off to the public.
The intricate 13th century mosaic floor sits at the heart of the Abbey’s coronation theatre and has been the site of the crowning of Kings and Queens for more than 700 years.
The floor was covered over with carpet at many previous coronations, including Queen Elizabeth II’s in 1953 and George VI’s in 1937, but it will remain uncovered for King Charles III this summer, the Abbey said.
Located in front of the High Altar, the floor is rich in symbolism and is said to depict the universe, with a spherical globe at its centre. A cryptic inscription even predicts 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.
Visitors will be kept in small groups of 10 and will be asked to remove their shoes and walk in socks to help protect the pavement, which is made of geometric patterns of marble, stone, glass and metal, in the Sacrarium. The guided Crown and Church visits will begin on 15 May - a week after the coronation.
Charles will be crowned sitting in the Coronation Chair which will rest on a low stepped dais above the centre circle of the ancient floor in front of the High Altar.
During the tour, experts will detail Westminster Abbey’s royal links, tell stories from coronations, visit the chair, and allow access to the pavement and explain its history and significance.
A spokesperson for the Abbey said: “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 6 May.”
The 24ft 10in square pavement was commissioned by Henry III and completed in 1268 as a glittering adornment to his Abbey. It is considered the best surviving example outside Italy of a rare type of mosaic stonework known as Cosmati after the Italian family who perfected the technique.
The pavement remained hidden from public view under carpet for 150 years from the 1870s until it was unveiled after a two-year programme of conservation work in 2010.
The late Queen was depicted standing on the spot where she was crowned in Australian-born artist Ralph Heimans’ portrait for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
Scott Craddock, the Abbey’s head of visitor experience, said: “The Coronation will be a joyous and significant moment for the nation, and for Westminster Abbey. We hope that our special programme of events and digital resources gives everyone an opportunity to join in with the celebrations.”
Other elements of the special programme 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 12 April and is included in entry to the Abbey. The Crown and Church tours will run until 29 July and cost £15, plus Abbey entry.