Investitures of Power

Throughout history, monarchies have undergone ceremonies of various sizes to honour the formal installation of a sovereign to the throne.

These events involve the bestowal of a crown upon the monarch’s head as symbol of their appointment to the head of state, along with the presentation of other items of regalia, which mark the formal investiture of a monarch with regal power.

These moments have been recorded throughout history in various mediums. The Society holds many different depictions of these moments, each created to mark, honour, or record the historical nature of these events, and some produced as participatory objects in these ceremonies.

These objects represent examples of the Society’s collections which demonstrate the symbolic nature of regal imagery to show monarchical power and imperialism.

Harold Godwinson being crowned in the Bayeux Tapestry, Charles Stothard (1816) / published in Vetusta Monumenta, Volume 6 (1821-3)

In 1816 the Society’s historical draughtsman Charles Stothard was commissioned to copy the entire Bayeux Tapestry. The drawings from his initial visit to France were engraved by James Basire and published in Vetusta Monumenta between 1821 and 1823 and was the first time that a complete colour reproduction of the tapestry had been made available to the public.

Stothard took these engravings with him on a later visit to Bayeux and hand-coloured them on site from the original. Stothard’s work is the first record of the Bayeux Tapestry after it was damaged during the French Revolution and before repairs were carried out in the 19th century. The Society holds both the original coloured engravings and the published plates.

This section shows the moment of Harold’s ascension to the throne, with sceptre and orb in hand. Symbolising the monarch’s power and the power of God respectively; a reminder to the monarch that their authority derives from above.

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A kingly figure from All Saints’ Church, Maidstone

From the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, volume 11, page 202, published June 1887. This wooden printing block depicts a design found on an early fourteenth century paving tile from All Saints’ Church in Maidstone, showing a kingly figure sitting cross-legged on a stone seat and holding a sceptre topped with a fleur-de-lis – the representation of the monarch’s power and royal authority granted by God. The figure depicted is not known.

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Coronation service of George I

A finely written transcript of the order of the coronation service of George I at Westminster on 20 October 1714. It includes rubrics (text written in red for emphasis) and indications of the psalms and music from the ceremony. It is bound in red leather with fine gilt tooling and has embossed green and gilt endpapers. You can see these details in the digitised copy on our Collections catalogue.

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Fores’ correct representation of the state procession on the occasion of the august ceremony of Her Majesty’s coronation, June 28th 1838. (London: Messrs. Fors, 1838)

This souvenir from Queen Victoria’s Coronation shows a hand-coloured aquatint panorama of the Queen’s state procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey. Comprising of numerous sections joined together, this object folds out to show the procession in its entirety and stretches to sixty feet in length. Printed captions beneath each figure in the lower margin identify the participants, including various international ambassadors, dukes and even each of Queen Victoria’s horses.

Mounted in publisher’s pink cloth slipcase with gold-tooled title and border decoration, brass clasp and catch.

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