The Coronation of King George V & the Coronation Chairs on display in Westport House
At the top of the Oak stair case, either side of an Italian 17th century and later walnut and parcel gilt Cassone, are a pair of early George III mahogany Coronation chairs in the George III style. These chairs were used by the 5th Marquess and Marchioness of Sligo at the Coronation of King George V on the 22nd June 1911.
The 5th Marquess Henry Ulick Browne (1831-1913) was the son of the vivacious 2nd Marquess Howe Peter Browne -Henry became 5th Marquess on the death of his brother John, the 4th Marquess, who died without issue.
The Coronation of George V took place in Westminster Abbey on the 22nd June 1911 – a grand affair indeed! George Frederick Ernest Albert (1865-1936) was the grandson of Queen Victoria and the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth and he was cousin to the Russian Tsar Nicolas II – the two actually looked very alike!
Henry’s wife, the 5th Marchioness, Catharine Henrietta Dicken (1837-1914) wrote her life story in a charming diary called “My Reminiscences” and in it she describes the day vividly as follows –
“In 1911 we both went to the Coronation of George V., which was a most magnificent sight. We had to be in the Abbey at 8.0 a.m., and were there for six hours. My husband and I sat on opposite sides of the Abbey, all the Peers being on one side and the Peeresses on the other. H.M. the Queen walked up on our side of the Abbey, and she passed just in front of me. She walked with great dignity and looked quite lovely; her Maids of Honour all followed, carrying her train. I saw my little grandson, Viscount Westport, on the opposite side of the Abbey, doing Page to Lord Grey de Ruthyn; and there were also present our eldest son and daughter-in-law, the Earl and Countess of Altamont. Our other children had seats in a Stand just outside the Abbey and saw the procession very well.When the King was crowned all the Peers put on their Coronets, and the same thing happened when the Queen was crowned, the Peeresses all putting on their Coronets. The music and singing were magnificent, and the whole service very impressive. We have lived in four reigns, both of us having been born in the reign of William IV.”
An invitation inviting the Viscount Westport to attend the rehearsals for the Coronation – Viscount Westport would go on to become the 7th Marquess of Sligo, George Ulick Browne. He acted as Page to Lord Ruthyn on the day of the Coronation.
The Coronation chairs are on display in Westport House along with the invitation to the rehearsals to the Coronation for the young Viscount Westport. Another fascinating story to add to our collection.
Photos courtesy of Westport House, Kathryn Connolly and Wikipedia. Copy by Kathryn Connolly and featuring an except from My Reminiscences by Catherine Henrietta Dicken, 5th Marchioness of Altamont.
Westport House is currently undergoing phase one of a restoration project that is expected to be completed in 2022. It will see much needed conservation work carried out to the Georgian-era home to help protect the contents of the house and stories like this one for many more generations to enjoy. We will re-open the house to visitors on Wednesday March 5th and you are invited to pre-book your visit to visit this room and see the Coronation Charis for yourself. The ideal day out during your visit to Westport. We look forward to welcoming you.