York Minster opens Historic Collections for the Coronation

14th March 2023

York Minster is celebrating the Coronation of King Charles III with an exhibition showcasing royal treasures from the cathedral’s historic collection.

Some of them on show for the very first time.

York Minster opens ups its historic collections for a new exhibition to mark the Coronation that will showcase some royal treasures never before seen.

The exhibition, which will open on Saturday 25 March, traces the influence of the monarchy and the significance of coronations throughout York Minster’s history.

York Minster opens Historic Collections for the Coronation

From the baptism of King Edwin of Northumbria on Easter Day in 627 AD in a small wooden church hastily built for the service – the first York Minster – to HM King Charles III’s poignant return to the cathedral last November to unveil a statue of his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

Visitors are invited to “Majesty: Monarchy and York Minster” in the cathedral’s Treasury and feature some items never before seen in public.

Amongst the treasures are a Bible and matching Prayer Book, bound in red velvet and finely decorated in silver with the keys of St Peter, purchased by York Minster with a grant from King Charles I in 1633, a Minster Police truncheon with royal arms, Maundy Money distributed by Queen Elizabeth II during her last visit to York Minster in 2012, and the Great Seal of Queen Anne used to authenticate important documents.

Other highlights include the ancient ‘coronation chair’, once believed to have been used in the coronation of Anglo-Saxon kings and more recently in the enthronement of the Archbishops of York, which was carried ablaze from York Minster following a fire in 1829, Chinese silk gifted to Queen Victoria on her wedding day which has been transformed into purses and veils used in preparation for the celebration of Holy Communion, and a Victorian fire bucket with a royal crest.

There is also the brilliantly coloured cope worn by Thomas Secker, Archbishop of Canterbury, to officiate at George III’s coronation.

York Minster opens Historic Collections for the Coronation

The exhibition showcases the range of York Minster’s nationally important collections, with a focus on local connections. From the script of the 1909 York Pageant, to the Yorkshire Post Coronation Supplement for King George VI and a special bound copy of the BBC publication ‘The Year that Made the Day: how the BBC planned and prepared the Coronation day broadcasts’ presented to the Archbishop of York, Cyril Garbett, to mark his role in the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, all of these treasures offer insights into the royal history of York Minster and mark a centuries-old relationship with the monarchy.

Also on display will be Handel’s Celebrated Coronation Anthems in score, for voice and instruments. These include Zadok the Priest, composed for the coronation of George II in 1727 and performed at every British coronation since.

Visitors can also try on regal robes, bear a crown and sceptre, and pose for a majestic photograph showing off their best royal wave with a soft-toy corgi, before adding their wishes for the Coronation year to a special crown-shaped tag.

Helen Rawson, Head of Collections and Interpretation at York Minster, said:

“The Coronation provides a splendid opportunity to showcase York Minster’s fascinating collections with royal associations, some held in the cathedral for centuries. From music and celebration to emblems of regal power and authority, gorgeous textiles and stunning silver, the exhibition is a visual and sensory extravaganza.”

The exhibition will be open from Saturday 25 March during normal visiting times until Sunday 1 October. Entry is included with a standard admission ticket and entry to York Minster is free for York residents with valid proof of address.

York Minster opens Historic Collections for the Coronation

Photo Credit: Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions

All cathedral news and stories relating to the Coronation of the King on 6th May can be found here.