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N the first rubric of the Liber Regalis, which forms the first appendix below to the Order of Coronation, there occurs the following passage: "provideatur quod in aula regia majori sedes eminens sit, pannis sericis et inauratis decenter ornata, super quam dictus rex regnaturus cum omni mansuetudine et reverentia elevetur.'
This ceremony has been supposed to have been derived from the more ancient customs of the northern nations, and many curious particulars, especially some relating to Sweden, have been collected by Mr. Taylor: who continues thus: "Perhaps the point in our English ceremony which is most analogous to the Gothic elevations is that of our kings being anciently placed upon a seat in Westminster Hall, which was thence denominated the King's Bench. This ancient seat, which occupied the upper end of the great hall, was appropriated to the administration of justice by the sovereign in person, or by the judges of his court, to which it gave the title of the Court of King's Bench."1
1 "At the upper end of this hall, is a long marble stone of twelve feet in length and three feet in breadth. And there also is a marble chair, where the kings of England formerly sate at their coronation dinners; and, at other solemn times, the lord chancellor : but now not to be seen, being
built over by the two courts of chancery and king's-bench." Stow: Survey of London. cit. Glory of Regality, p. 303. The chief point is here omitted in Stow's statement about the coronationfeast the seat was used, as a ceremony, before, not after, the procession to the Abbey. It was
The same writer gives the following examples of the sovereign being placed in this chair. Of Richard II. from Rymer: of Richard III, who according to Speed and Stow, went in great pomp unto Westminster hall, and there in the king's-bench court took his seat as the Croyland chronicle relates; "se apud magnam aulam Westmonasterii in cathedram marmoream immisit." And Grafton says more plainly of the same king, "he came downe out of the white hall into the great hall at Westminster, and went directly to the kings-benche." To these I would add one more from Rastell, of Edward IV. "He was brought into Westmyster, and there toke possessyon of the realme. And syttynge in the seate royall, in the great hall of Westmyster, with his septer in his hande, a question was axed of all the people, yf they wolde admitte hym to continue as kynge: to the whiche, with one voyce, all the people cryed there, Ye."
And these from the MSS. before cited, in the British Museum. "The King's see. Also it must be ordeyned that in the day of the kyng's coronacyon in the grete halle of Westmynster, the kyng's see bee rially ordeyned and tressid with clothis of silke and golde, and ryall quysshyns and tapets :—in the whiche the prynce shall sit abydyng the procession."5 Again, the "Devyse" for Henry VIII. "He shall come yerely, as it
used at the feast, doubtless, but not as a circumstance of the solemnity, properly so called. See Hall, Chronicle, p. 105.
2 I extract the passage itself from Rymer: "Mane autem facto surrexit rex, et- -egrediens de camera sua, descendebat in præ
dictam magnam aulam : -et, se-
5" Maner and forme of a coronacion." Lansdown MS. 285.
is founden in presidents by vj. of the clok from his chambre into Westm. hall. Where he shall sytte vnder cloth of estate in the marble cheyer apparelled with clothes and quysshyns of clothe of golde baudekyn, as it apperteyneth.-And it is to remembre, that the king's benche and all the place of the chauncerye be apparailed vndre feete vppon the raylls and along vppon the walls, with rede worsted."6
The actual communion of the sovereign, after the coron onation, in the Abbey, requires one or two brief remarks. One point has been long doubtful in the modern coronation services: namely, whether the crown was to be removed before receiving the Holy Eucharist. In the order for George III. there was no rubric: and it is said, nor do I see any reason to doubt the fact, that when the king approached the altar, in order to receive the sacrament, he enquired of the archbishop, 'Whether he should not lay aside his crown?' That the archbishop asked the bishop of Rochester, but neither of them knew, nor could say, what had been the usual form. And the king, with his usual piety, determined within himself upon the fitting course which he should pursue: he took off his crown, and humbly laid it aside during the administration of the Sacrament. The archbishop (Secker) possibly had not examined any other Order than that immediately preceding, of George II. where, in like manner, no direction was given upon this matter: at least, it is certain that he took, and naturally, that Order for his guide; because the copy which he used is preserved at Lambeth, interlined and corrected with his own hand.
Cotton MS. Tiberius E. viij.
I have not been able to learn what was really the fact, at the coronations of K. George IV. and of William IV. and Queen Adelaide: there is no rubric in their Services regarding the removal of the crown before communion; and it is a curious circumstance, that some personages who were present, and close by, upon both occasions, assure me that they do not recollect whether the crown was laid aside or not. But in the Order for the coronation of her present Majesty, as the reader will see below, there are these rubrics: and, at whose wish or recommendation soever they were at length introduced, we cannot but admire the reverence and religious feeling which thus set the question at rest, we may hope, for the future. "The Queen," says the rubric, "descends from her throne-and goes to the steps of the altar, where, taking off her crown, she kneels down." And again, the Holy Eucharist having been received, before the post-communion; "The Queen then puts on her crown, and taking the sceptres in her hands again, repairs to her throne."
As regards the coronations before that of George II. we know that there was no celebration of the holy
communion in the case of James II. But if archbishop Secker had thought of examining the records of Charles II.'s he would have found that then the crown was removed. "After the offertory, the king kneel`d before his ffaldstool, and layd his crown vpon the cushion at his right hand;-(after communion) the king arose, putt on his crowne, etc." And, if we go far back into the earlier ages, we shall find nothing which can lead us to suppose that the contrary was then the practice, although we may not be able to bring forward a decisive rule upon the point. Thus, as Matthew Paris relates it, we might be led to conjecture that the crown was not removed, at the third coronation of Henry II. "Apud Wigorniam coronatus est: ubi post celebrationem divinorum sacramentorum, coronam super altare posuit, nec ultra coronam portavit."9 But it is of this very coronation that Hoveden tells us, of the king, and queen Eleanor, in a place already cited: "ubi cum ad oblationem venirent, deposuerunt coronas suas, et eas super altare obtulerunt." 10 It be said that this does not prove may much; but I understand the statement to mean, not merely that they made an oblation of their crowns, but that they did so, at the proper and accustomed time of removing them, that is, before the offertory, at the holy
We find therefore that in the twelfth and in the seventeenth centuries, the custom probably was to remove the crown. But I am doubtful as to what was observed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The "Devyse" for Henry VIII. positively says that "the king
8 Walker. Account, &c. p. 118. 9 Hist. Angl. p. 81.
10 See above, p. xix.