Ancient Coronation Traditions & Etiquette

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Previous page: Part 3 - Ancient Coronation Traditions & Etiquette

The two other feudal Great Offices of State are those of the Lords High Steward and High Constable. Both these offices were formerly hereditary, but remotely became merged in the Crown, the former in 1399 and the latter in 1397.

In recent reigns they have been created for life or during the King's pleasure, or, more frequently, for the day of the Coronation only. The Steward formerly performed major services at the Banquet and remotely used to preside at the Coronation Court of Claims. He has accorded to him by custom the signal privilege of carrying Saint Edward's Crown in the Abbey Procession. This crown, it may be noted, is that with which the English Kings are usually crowned: the State Crown is that which they wear on leaving the Abbey.

The duties of the Lord High Constable are less than those of the Steward, but, like the Earl Marshal, he carries his Baton of Office in the Procession and he accompanies the Earl Marshal during the ceremonies.

The Bearers of the Great Golden Spurs, or Saint George's Spurs, the emblems of knighthood and chivalry, perform their service jure sanguinis, dependent upon descent from William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, heir to his brother, John Marshall, who bore the Spurs at the Coronation of Richard I. in 1189.

The Marshalls failed in the male line and the hereditary right descended in the female line through the family of Hastings to the Lords Grey de Ruthyn. The male line failed again and an equal right in the female line descended in 1911 to the Earl of Loudoun (Abney-Hastings) and Lord Grey de Ruthyn (Clifton).

There are two Spurs: in 1911 Lord Loudoun carried one and Lord Grey de Ruthyn the other. They are carried in the Procession and are laid upon the Altar, to be put to his Majesty's heels during the Ceremony by the Lord Great Chamberlain. The Lord of the Manor of Worksop (at King George V.'s Coronation, the Duke of Newcastle) has the right to provide for the King a glove for his Majesty's right hand, and to support his Majesty's right arm whilst he holds the Sceptre with the Cross. This service is performed in right of tenure by grand serjeantry of the Manor of Worksop. It is maintained that this privilege was originally granted to Bertram de Verdun by King William I., being attached to the possession of the Manor of Farnham Royal, Co. Buckingham, also granted to the said Bertram by King William.

Farnham Royal passed by descent, male line failing, to the Furnivals, and then in like circumstances to the Talbots, Earls of Shrewsbury, members of which two families regularly performed this service. Francis, Earl of Shrewsbury, exchanged with King Henry VIII. in 1541 the Manor of Farnham Royal for the Manor of Worksop, Co. Nottingham, and obtained also from the King a transfer of the attached service, so that it applied thenceforth to, the Manor of Worksop "by the Royal Service of finding to the Lord the King for the time being on the day of his Coronation a glove for his right hand and of supporting the right arm of the said Lord the King on the same day so long as he shall hold the Royal Sceptre."

In about 1650 the family of Howard, Dukes of Norfolk, inherited the Manor of Worksop from a Talbot heiress, and subsequently the Dukes of Norfolk performed the service at several Coronations.

In about 1840 the Manor was sold to the Duke of Newcastle, whose heir performed the service in 1901 and 1911 The Glove is by custom embroidered with the Arms of Verdun, the original tenant of the Manor of Farnham Royal. The Orb is usually carried in the Procession by the Dukes of Somerset, who have been accorded this privilege, with one exception, at all Coronations since that of James II. The privilege of performing this service is accorded by grace: no acknowledged prescriptive right appears to exist. It is probable that it is performed by the Dukes of Somerset as second senior Dukes in order of creation, the first Dukes, the Dukes of Norfolk, having their duties as Earls Marshal to perform.

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