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Most recent Order of the Bath Service

Wednesday, 17th May 2006

Most recent Order of the Bath Service

The Service of Installation of Knights Grand Cross of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath was held on Wednesday 17th May at 11.15am. HM The Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales (The Great Master of the Order) attended the service.

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath was established as a military order by Letters Patent of George I on 18th May 1725, when the Dean of Westminster was made Dean of the Order in perpetuity and King Henry VII's Chapel designated as the Chapel of the Order. However, the Order was a revival of an older custom going back to medieval times when part of the ceremony of knighthood included a ritual bath symbolic of spiritual purification and a vigil the night before receiving the honour.

Interesting facts about the Order of the Bath

When the procession of Knights used to leave by the west door (on their way to the Palace of Westminster) the king's cook, with carving knife in hand, stood at the door of the Abbey and threatened each knight as he left promising to "hack off your spurs from your heels" if he dishonoured the Order.

When ladies were admitted to the Order in 1971 some members were alarmed as the Oath the Knights take includes the lines "...defend maidens, widows and orphans...".

Dean Eric Abbott decided, in 1969, to have an annual evening get-together for members of the Order and their families. The Abbey is open for them to go round and after there are drinks in the garden.

The banners are made of silk, 6 ft by 6ft, and painted with the coats of arms of the Knight (this is not a crest). The Sovereign's banner is embroidered. From 1725 until after the Second World War the inscriptions on the stall plates were in French.

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At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

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Vanessa, Head of Conservation

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