The 700-year-old oak chair, which was famously covered in graffiti by schoolboys and tourists in the 18th and 19th centuries, has been carefully restored and preserved by Krista Blessley, a paintings conservator at Westminster Abbey.
During the restoration, Blessley discovered new details in the decoration of the chair, including previously overlooked parts of a figure in the punch-work gilding on the back of the chair. She believes that the figure could be a king or a saint, but further investigation will be required to determine exactly who or what the figure is.
The chair, estimated to have been made around 1,300 for King Edward I, was used to house the coronation stone and is decorated with coloured glass and gilded with gold leaf. According to Blessley, the chair is “a complex layered structure” that is prone to the gilding flaking off. Blessley has spent months in preserving the chair’s flaking gilding. She has been cleaning its surface with the help of sponges and cotton swabs.
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Blessley says that it is a real privilege to be conserving a historic object that is integral to the nation. Blessley added that it is so important to the country’s history and in the history of the monarchy, and it is really unique as a conservator to be able to work on something, which is part of a working collection and still gets used for the original function it was built for.
The chair will be used by King Charles during his coronation on May 6, marking the first time the chair has been used for a coronation in almost 70 years since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Despite its age and the graffiti that covers it, the chair remains an important symbol of British history and the monarchy, and its restoration ensures that it will continue to be an important part of the nation’s heritage for years to come.
- When was the coronation chair estimated to be made?
It is estimated to have been made around 1,300 for King Edward I.
- When was the coronation chair last used?
This chair was last used for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.
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