The coronation of King Charles III is a historic moment.
It is a time to reflect on our nation's history as well as looking forward to the future. At its heart is a service in which His Majesty is anointed as King, rooted in tradition and symbolism. Built around the themes of themes of community, faith and service this Coronation weekend is also a great opportunity to gather together. Many churches will be showing the Coronation itself on a big screen, and more will host community celebrations and volunteering through The Coronation Big Lunch and The Big Help Out.
The essential elements of the coronation have remained largely unchanged for the past thousand years. The sovereign is presented to the people, and then swears an oath to uphold the law and the church. The monarch is then anointed with holy oil, invested with regalia and crowned. The service ends with a closing procession. The ceremony is performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, with addional clergy and others performing ceremonial roles. Most will wear ceremonial uniforms or robes.
King Edgar was crowned at Bath Abbey in 973AD and All Saints, Kingston was used for a number of coronations for the Anglo-Saxon kings. But, it wasn't until the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066 that the ceremony became a grand spectacle. William's coronation took place in Westminster Abbey, where he was crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, marking the beginning of a new era in English history.
Scottish coronations were traditionally held at Scone Abbey with the monarch seated on the Stone of Destiny. The original rituals were a fusion of ceremonies based on the inauguration of Aidan by Columba in 574, and by the Picts from whom the Stone of Destiny came. A crown does not seem to have been used until 1214. The Stone was taken to Westminster Abbey in 1296 and Edward I of England had it incorporated into the English Coronation Chair. Its first certain use at a was at the coronation of that of Henry IV in 1399.
Today all monarchs are crowned in Westminster Abbey, using the Coronation Chair. But, that wasn't always the case and here we explore some of the churches and cathedrals around the UK which have been used for coronations in the past.
* This is a page about known coronations and the churches or cathedrals in which they were held, and not a list of all monarchs. We have not included those where we do not know where the coronation occured.
Why not listen to King Charles's Official Coronation Playlist whilst you read this page. The 27 song playlist features Queen, David Bowie, Grace Jones, and Harry Styles.
Anglo Saxon kings
The Anglo Saxon period was one of turbulence, bloodshed, invasion and innovation. The kings consolidated a new unified kingdom of England and put down the basis for some of the laws, religious practices and ceremonies of kingship that we still recognise today.
King Edgar was crowned on this site in 973AD and the service set the precedent for the coronation of all future Kings and Queens of England including Elizabeth II. Three different churches have occupied the site of the abbey since then.
Kingston didn't get its name by accident. The town, spanning the border of Wessex and Mercia, was an important power centre and the site of numerous Anglo-Saxon coronations as documented in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.
A church fit for a King
We've written a brilliant blog post about All Saints, Kingston's association with the Anglo-Saxon kings.
Westminster Abbey presents a unique pageant of British history; the shrine of St Edward the Confessor, the tombs of kings and queens, and countless memorials to the famous and the great. It has been the setting for every Coronation since 1066 and for numerous other royal occasions. King Charles III is the 40th reigning monarch to be crowned there.
Click below to explore a gallery of coronations with the date they took place.
This decorated manuscript is designed to help organise and run a coronation. It was created in 1382 but was translated into English for the first time for the coronation of James I in 1603. The basic running order of this Christian ceremony remains the same, as explained in the Liber Regalis. Find out more about the Liber Regali, or Royal Book, on the Westmister Abbey website.
Henry was staying safely at Corfe Castle when King John died so the papal legate to England, oversaw his coronation at Gloucester Cathedral on 28 October 1216. The royal crown had been either lost or sold so they used a simple gold corolla. Henry later underwent a second coronation at Westminster Abbey on 17 May 1220.