ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST
THE CORONATION SPOON Second half twelfth century
SEE FOR THE WHOLE TEXT, NOTE 54
SEE NOTE 54
THE AMPULLA 1661
The gold Ampulla is used to hold the consecrated oil with which a sovereign is anointed during the coronation ceremony. It is cast in the form of an eagle with outspread wings. The head of the eagle is removable, and there is an opening in the beak for pouring the oil.
The design is based on an earlier, smaller vessel, which was based on a fourteenth-century legend: the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to St Thomas Becket and presented him with a golden eagle and a vial of oil for anointing future kings of England. Oil from the Ampulla is poured onto the twelfth-century Anointing Spoon (RCIN 31733) at the most sacred moment of the coronation. The gesture of anointing, when the Archbishop touches holy oil onto the head, breast and hands of the sovereign, dates back to the Old Testament Book of Kings, where the anointing of Solomon as King is described.
Supplied for the coronation of Charles II in 1661 by the Crown Jeweller, Robert Vyner.
SEE NOTE 54
‘James VI and I (James Charles Stuart; 19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the Scottish and English crowns on 24 March 1603 until his death in 1625”
JAMES VI AND I
HOUSE OF STUART
JAMES VI AND I WAS THE SON OF MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS
MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS
JAMES VI AND I WAS THE SUCCESSOR OF QUEEN ELIZABETH I
AMPULA AND SPOON
What is significant about an ampulla and spoon? Watch The Reverend Dr James Hawkey, Canon Theologian and Almoner, explain the most symbolic and sacred part of the coronation.
Of all the objects used within coronations, the ampulla and spoon are arguably the most important. They are required for the anointing, which is the most sacred part of the coronation service. Replicas of both objects are on display within the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries and have been used for hundreds of years.
The ampulla, shaped like an eagle, holds the consecrated oil with which the monarch is anointed. It was made for the coronation of King Charles II in 1661. Unlike the regalia that had to be remade in the 17th century, the spoon is the only item to survive Oliver Cromwell’s destruction of the sacred symbols of monarchy after the English Civil War. It dates back to the early 12th century, and is recorded among objects at the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey in an inventory of 1349.
Anointing is the moment when the archbishop places holy oil on to the head, heart or breast, and hands of the monarch. It is the only part of the coronation service that the congregation are not allowed to watch; during the televised coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, a canopy was held over the Queen as she was anointed to ensure it could not be seen.
The recipe for the holy oil is secret, but contains oils of orange flowers, roses, jasmine and cinnamon. It is consecrated by a bishop on the coronation day. This sacred blessing, using the ampulla and spoon, is at the heart of the Christian coronation service, demonstrating the connection between the monarch and God
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