The intriguing stories behind the Coronation anointing screens

Julia Sibley, Vice-chair of the Livery Committee, attended an event hosted by the Drapers that told the stories behind the anointing screens seen by millions at the King’s Coronation.

Julia wrote,

“I was beyond privileged last night to be with members of some 88 livery companies to hear some of the background stories to the concept, planning, designing, constructing, sewing and delivering the Coronation anointing screens for His Majesty King Charles 111. The event was kindly hosted by Drapers Company and was a fantastic testament to the incredible work that can be achieved when the livery companies get together.

We heard from Richard Winstanley, Clerk to the Drapers Company; James Gaselee, Clerk to the Weavers Company; Nick Gutfreund, cabinet maker and Coronation anointing screens project lead; Aidan Hart, Iconographer- icons, mosaic, carving, wall paining and church design; Anne Butcher, Head of Studio and Standards at the Royal School of Needlework; Gemma Murray, Studio project manager at the Royal School of Needlework; Tim Royall, sculptor, stone & memorial mason, carver & letter cutter; Pete Tarrant, digital embroidery and founder of Digitek, together with Sgt Major WO1 Dave Roper, The Household Division.

We were given great insight into the whole process from the concept in December 2022 to the six Guards carrying the beautiful screens so well on Saturday 6th May 2023.

We heard about how important sustainability was to the entire project, from the wool selected, the threads chosen, the oak used for the poles, taken from an oak that had been planted in Windsor Great Park in the 18th Century and fallen over in the winds.

In response to a great question from Master Framework Knitter we learnt that there are 1.3million stitches in the canopies, and Pete watched every single one being put onto the frame, and with only two thread breaks.

We loved seeing the photo and hearing that Tim had visited Shropshire Falconry to observe eagles so that he could make such amazing sculptures to sit at the head of the oak poles, lovingly nicknamed Gertie and Bertie!

Sgt Major WO1 Dave Roper showed us slides of the detailed logistic drawings he designed to enable the six Guards to be able to provide such great service and place and remove the screens so well on the day, not surprisingly some 380 hours of practice certainly paid off.

Hopefully these photos help to show in some part the incredible beauty of the screens, coupled with the crafts and skills that were used throughout.

The Livery movement should be incredibly proud of their involvement in this gift to their Majesties.”

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