To prepare for the Coronation of The King and Queen Consort we will be closed to visitors and worshippers from 25th April and will re-open on Monday 8th May. Services will take place in St Margaret's Church until Tuesday 2nd May.Find out more
Spotlight on coronations
Find out how a highly decorated manuscript from the 14th century has guided the understanding of coronation services at Westminster Abbey.
How do we know what a medieval coronation would have looked like? Watch Dr Matthew Payne, Keeper of the Muniments, uncover what we know, and don’t know, about the Liber Regalis.
The Liber Regalis, or Royal Book, is a medieval manual which explains how coronations are staged. The manuscript, which is currently on display in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries at Westminster Abbey, provides ceremonial instructions and the order of service for the coronation. Similar to other 14th century manuscripts, it is written on parchment and in Latin.
Along with the informative text, this manuscript contains four beautiful full-page illuminations, three of which relate to coronations. They illustrate the act of crowning monarchs; including a king alone, a queen alone, and a king and queen together. Each monarch is surrounded by religious and secular figures, highlighting the coronation as a ceremony of both church and state.
The Liber Regalis is one of the very few books left at the Abbey after the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of King Henry VIII. Its usefulness for people in charge of planning coronations is likely to have ensured its survival.
While there are other sources to help with planning coronations in the present, the Liber Regalis does demonstrate the core parts of the Coronation service which have always been and will continue to be essential. Although over time there have been some substantial changes, such as the shift from the service being in Latin to English, the Liber Regalis is a reminder that this Christian service has largely remained the same for hundreds of years.
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.