A 700-year-old chair is getting a facelift for King Charles III’s coronation

Written by Lianne Kolirin, CNNLondon

A conservator at London’s Westminster Abbey is finishing up meticulous restoration work on a fragile 700-year-old chair to make sure King Charles III can sit on it at his coronation in May.

The historical throne, often called the Coronation Chair, has been on the centerpiece of English coronations for hundreds of years, together with these of Henry VIII, Charles I, Queen Victoria and the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Westminster Abbey — the place the ceremony will happen — describes the chair as “one of the most precious and famous pieces of furniture in the world” and says it’s in “remarkable condition” given its age.

Nevertheless, it should nonetheless bear some conservation work forward of the ceremony to crown the King and Queen Consort on Saturday, May 6.

The oak chair is believed to have been crafted in about 1300, in line with an announcement from the abbey — which has hosted the coronations of 39 monarchs since 1066.

The King’s mom, Queen Elizabeth II, within the chair on her coronation. Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Edward I commissioned the 6.5-foot-high chair to deal with the Stone of Scone — also referred to as the Stone of Destiny — which he captured in 1296, together with the Scottish crown and scepter. The stone, which had been used as a seat within the coronation of Scottish kings for hundreds of years, is now stored in Scotland however is reunited with the chair for British coronations.

Originally coated in gold leaf, the chair was additionally embellished with coloured glass, in addition to patterns of birds, foliage and a king painted by Edward I’s grasp painter.

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The gilding options what is called punchwork — tiny, intricate dots that create photographs and patterns.

Krista Blessley, the abbey’s work conservator, is giving the chair a floor clear with sponges and cotton swabs, to take away ingrained filth, Britain’s PA Media reported. She can be working to “stablilize” surviving layers of the gilding, on each the chair and its base, which was up to date within the 18th century.

“It’s a real privilege to work on the coronation chair,” Blessley informed PA in an interview.

“It’s so important to our country’s history and in the history of the monarchy, and it’s really unique as a conservator to work on something that’s part of a working collection and still used for the original function it was made for.”

The ancient throne features graffiti from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The historical throne options graffiti from the 18th and nineteenth centuries. Credit: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Images/Getty Images

Despite its significance, the chair has “suffered occasionally over its lifetime,” in line with the abbey. There is graffiti on the again relationship again from the 18th and nineteenth centuries, believed to be the work of native schoolboys and guests. One carving reads: “P. Abbott slept in this chair 5-6 July 1800.”

Additional harm features a small nook knocked off by a bomb assault in 1914 — thought to have been carried out by suffragettes.

Blessley informed PA that she has begun to uncover ignored particulars within the chair’s ornament.

“I think they are previously undiscovered toes in the punchwork gilding on the back of the chair,” she stated.

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“So there are areas of drapery where you can tell there would have been a figure. It might be they are figures of kings or it might be a figure of a saint, because so much is lost we can’t really tell at the moment but I’ll do some further investigation.”

Blessley has up to now spent 4 months engaged on the chair. She informed PA: “It has a very complex layered structure, which means it’s very prone to the gilding on it flaking.

“So a big a part of what I’ve been doing is sticking that gilding down to ensure it is safe, after which I’ll floor clear it and that may enhance the looks a little bit bit.”

The updates will be “totally invisible,” according to the abbey’s statement, “however will make sure the preservation of those historic ornamental layers not only for the Coronation however for hundreds of years to come back.”

Despite its age, the chair won’t be the oldest artifact concerned within the ceremony. The King shall be anointed with holy oil poured into the silver-gilt coronation spoon that dates again to the twelfth century.