St Edward’s Chair was made between 1297 and 1300 upon the instruction of King Edward I. It incorporated the Stone of Scone as its seat, a block of sandstone upon which Scottish kings had formerly been inaugurated, and which was surrendered to King Edward in 1296. The King presented the Chair to the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor, where it was used by the Mass priests, but it was also quickly adopted for the anointing and crowning of monarchs, the first coronation in which it was used possibly being that of King Edward II in 1308. The Chair has certainly played a prominent role in all coronations since Henry IV’s in 1399. It is known across the world and is one of the oldest pieces of English furniture still in use.
Made of oak, the Chair was once highly ornate, being covered with decoratively punched gilding, and having inset panels of coloured glass and faux-enamels. It also bore coats of arms on shields of timber and glass. In the back of the Chair was the imposing figure of a seated king, probably Edward the Confessor, with his feet resting on a lion. The Chair was modified in the sixteenth century, when a timber seat was fitted over the Stone, and a plinth made which incorporated four carved lions. The present lion-plinth was fitted in 1727 for the Coronation of King George II. Over the centuries, the Chair has suffered much damage: most of the gilding has been lost, as have all the glass and enamel inserts, and visitors have even carved graffiti in the timber.
Prior to the twentieth century, it was usual for the Chair to be swathed in rich textiles for coronations, thereby concealing the damage. A conservation programme was carried out in 2010−12, and a new setting has been created for displaying the Chair.
From the Service booklet
A SERVICE TO CELEBRATE
THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY
OF THE CORONATION
OF HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II
Tuesday 4th June 2013