The chair used in the coronation of almost every monarch for 700 years is to undergo extensive conservation work to preserve what remains of its fragile medieval decorations.
Only three sovereigns – Edward V, Mary I and Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936 before the ceremony was held – were not crowned seated in the large oak chair, which was commissioned in 1300 by Edward I. Much of its rich paintings, ornate gold gilt and glasswork has been lost over the centuries and the wood was damaged by the graffiti of 18th and 19th century schoolboys. One carved "P Abbott slept in this chair 5, 6 July 1800" on the back.
Conservators at Westminster Abbey will start work at the end of April and spend 12 months examining the chair in the £200,000 project. Brown paint applied for Queen Victoria's golden jubilee celebrations in 1887 and other additions over the years like polish and wax may be removed. The imposing oak artefact is two metres high and is decorated in a gothic style reminiscent of a medieval church and stands on four gold lions, one at each corner, added during the Georgian era.
It was built to hold the ancient Stone of Scone – now housed in Edinburgh Castle – and decorated by Master Walter, a court painter, on the orders of Edward I. Dr Tony Trowles, head of the Abbey Collection, said: "At first sight it looks an odd chair for a monarch to be sat in.
"It's a slightly battered object but what does survive is particularly fragile and needs to be stabilised.
"The work is really conserving the original medieval paintwork and gilding, much of which was lost over the centuries."
Visitors to Westminster Abbey will be able to watch conservator Marie Louise Sauerberg at work through a glass wall built into the side of a studio constructed within St George's Chapel.Reuse content