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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Sir Robert Vyner (1631-88)

The Ampulla 1661

RCIN 31732

Jewel House, Jewel House

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The Spoon is first recorded among St Edward’s Regalia in 1349, in an inventory taken at Westminster Abbey. It is already listed at that date as of ‘antique forme’. It is the only piece of the regalia to survive the melt of the Commonwealth in 1649. Although its original purpose is unclear, it was certainly designed for ceremonial use, and its presence in St Edward’s Regalia indicates that it was connected with coronations from an early date.

The anointing is the central religious act of the ceremony of the Coronation – the monarch is anointed, blessed and consecrated by the Archbishop. The ceremony of Coronation also confirms the monarch as the Head of the Church of England.

The Ampulla is the vessel used to hold the consecrated chrism or holy oil with which a Sovereign is anointed during the coronation ceremony. This example, in the form of an eagle, was created in 1661 for the coronation of Charles II (the previous regalia having been destroyed during the Commonwealth period).  The oil may be poured into the Coronation Spoon through the beak.