”The anointing is the most sacred part of the coronation ceremony, and takes place before the investiture and crowning. ”
ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST
THE CORONATION SPOON
Second half twelfth century
The silver-gilt spoon has an oval bowl, divided into two lobes, engraved with acanthus scrolls. The bowl is joined to the stem by a stylised monster’s head, behind which the stem flattens into a roundel, flanked by four pearls, and a band of interlaced scrolling, with another monster’s head; the end of the tapering stem is spirally twisted, and terminates in a flattened knop.
The spoon is first recorded in 1349 as preserved among St Edward’s Regalia in Westminster Abbey. Already at this date it is described as a spoon of ‘antique forme’. Stylistically it seems to relate to the twelfth century and is therefore a remarkable survival – the only piece of royal goldsmiths’ work to survive from that century. It was possibly supplied to Henry II or Richard I.
It is unclear from the 1349 inventory whether the spoon at this date was part of the chapel plate or simply a secular object. However, it was clearly never intended for eating or stirring. Its divided bowl and length suggest that it always had a ceremonial purpose, and its presence among the regalia means that it has always been associated with coronations. It may originally have been used for mixing wine and water in a chalice, but it was certainly used for anointing the sovereign during the coronation of James I in 1603, and at every subsequent coronation. One suggestion is that the divided bowl was designed in this fashion so that the archbishop might dip two fingertips into the holy oil.
The spoon remained among the regalia until 1649, when it was sold off (rather than melted down like the other items). It was purchased by a Mr Kynnersley, Yeoman of Charles I’s Wardrobe, for 16 shillings. Kynnersley returned the spoon to Charles II, for use at the coronation in 1661, when the small pearls were added to its decoration. It has remained in use ever since.
The anointing is the most sacred part of the coronation ceremony, and takes place before the investiture and crowning. The Archbishop pours holy oil from the Ampulla (or vessel) into the spoon, and anoints the sovereign on the hands, breast and head. The tradition goes back to the Old Testament which describes the anointing of Solomon by Zadok the Priest and Nathan the Prophet. Anointing was one of the medieval holy sacraments and it emphasised the spiritual status of the sovereign. Until the seventeenth century the sovereign was considered to be appointed directly by God and this was confirmed by the ceremony of anointing. Although the monarch is no longer considered divine in the same way, the ceremony of Coronation also confirms the monarch as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Possibly made for Henry II or Richard I. First recorded in the Royal Collection in 1349
END OF THE ARTICLE
” 39Then Zadok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!”
1 KINGS 1
1Now King David was old, advanced in years; and they put covers on him, but he could not get warm. 2Therefore his servants said to him, “Let a young woman, a virgin, be sought for our lord the king, and let her stand before the king, and let her care for him; and let her lie in your bosom, that our lord the king may be warm.” 3So they sought for a lovely young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 4The young woman was very lovely; and she cared for the king, and served him; but the king did not know her.
5Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king”; and he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. 6(And his father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, “Why have you done so?” He was also very good-looking. His mother had borne him after Absalom.) 7Then he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they followed and helped Adonijah. 8But Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and the mighty men who belonged to David were not with Adonijah.
9And Adonijah sacrificed sheep and oxen and fattened cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by En Rogel; he also invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the men of Judah, the king’s servants. 10But he did not invite Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, the mighty men, or Solomon his brother.
11So Nathan spoke to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, “Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king, and David our lord does not know it? 12Come, please, let me now give you advice, that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. 13Go immediately to King David and say to him, ‘Did you not, my lord, O king, swear to your maidservant, saying, “Assuredly your son Solomon shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne“? Why then has Adonijah become king?’ 14Then, while you are still talking there with the king, I also will come in after you and confirm your words.”
15So Bathsheba went into the chamber to the king. (Now the king was very old, and Abishag the Shunammite was serving the king.) 16And Bathsheba bowed and did homage to the king. Then the king said, “What is your wish?”
17Then she said to him, “My lord, you swore by the Lord your God to your maidservant, saying, ‘Assuredly Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne.’ 18So now, look! Adonijah has become king; and now, my lord the king, you do not know about it. 19He has sacrificed oxen and fattened cattle and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the sons of the king, Abiathar the priest, and Joab the commander of the army; but Solomon your servant he has not invited. 20And as for you, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, that you should tell them who will sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. 21Otherwise it will happen, when my lord the king rests with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon will be counted as offenders.”
22And just then, while she was still talking with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in. 23So they told the king, saying, “Here is Nathan the prophet.” And when he came in before the king, he bowed down before the king with his face to the ground. 24And Nathan said, “My lord, O king, have you said, ‘Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne’? 25For he has gone down today, and has sacrificed oxen and fattened cattle and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the king’s sons, and the commanders of the army, and Abiathar the priest; and look! They are eating and drinking before him; and they say, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26But he has not invited me—me your servant—nor Zadok the priest, nor Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, nor your servant Solomon. 27Has this thing been done by my lord the king, and you have not told your servant who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?”
David Proclaims Solomon King
28Then King David answered and said, “Call Bathsheba to me.” So she came into the king’s presence and stood before the king. 29And the king took an oath and said, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from every distress, 30just as I swore to you by the Lord God of Israel, saying, ‘Assuredly Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ so I certainly will do this day.”
31Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and paid homage to the king, and said, “Let my lord King David live forever!”
32And King David said, “Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.” So they came before the king. 33The king also said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord, and have Solomon my son ride on my own mule, and take him down to Gihon. 34There let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel; and blow the horn, and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 35Then you shall come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne, and he shall be king in my place. For I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah.”
36Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king and said, “Amen! May the Lord God of my lord the king say so too. 37As the Lord has been with my lord the king, even so may He be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.”
38So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and took him to Gihon. 39Then Zadok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” 40And all the people went up after him; and the people played the flutes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth seemed to split with their sound.
41Now Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they finished eating. And when Joab heard the sound of the horn, he said, “Why is the city in such a noisy uproar?” 42While he was still speaking, there came Jonathan, the son of Abiathar the priest. And Adonijah said to him, “Come in, for you are a prominent man, and bring good news.”
43Then Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, “No! Our lord King David has made Solomon king. 44The king has sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites; and they have made him ride on the king’s mule. 45So Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king at Gihon; and they have gone up from there rejoicing, so that the city is in an uproar. This is the noise that you have heard. 46Also Solomon sits on the throne of the kingdom. 47And moreover the king’s servants have gone to bless our lord King David, saying, ‘May God make the name of Solomon better than your name, and may He make his throne greater than your throne.’ Then the king bowed himself on the bed. 48Also the king said thus, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has given one to sit on my throne this day, while my eyes see it!’ ”
49So all the guests who were with Adonijah were afraid, and arose, and each one went his way.
50Now Adonijah was afraid of Solomon; so he arose, and went and took hold of the horns of the altar. 51And it was told Solomon, saying, “Indeed Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon; for look, he has taken hold of the horns of the altar, saying, ‘Let King Solomon swear to me today that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.’ ”
52Then Solomon said, “If he proves himself a worthy man, not one hair of him shall fall to the earth; but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.” 53So King Solomon sent them to bring him down from the altar. And he came and fell down before King Solomon; and Solomon said to him, “Go to your house.”
The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Copyright © 1982 Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.