The Coronation of King Charles III is an opportunity to see how such occasions have been marked in the past and how this is reflected in the collections of the National Library.
The Coronation is essentially a Christian ceremony, and it used to be the custom to print the sermons preached during the service. There are several examples of these in the Llandaff Cathedral collection which was purchased by the Library in 1984, including this sermon by William Talbot, Bishop of Oxford, preached at George I’s coronation in 1714.
In 1820 the Merionethshire lexicographer, grammarian, editor, antiquary and poet William Owen Pughe wrote a poem under his bardic name Idrison to mark the coronation of George IV.
Music is another important element of the ceremony, with new pieces being composed for each coronation. Our musical collections include a hymn by the Rev. W. Morgan and an anthem by Sir John Goss, both with Welsh words, published for George V’s coronation in 1911. But in Newtown that year the annual sports and musical festival had to be postponed because of the coronation festivities.
When George VI was crowned in 1937, the Rev. Arthur Morgan preached a sermon with the title “The meaning of the Coronation” in Shirenewton Church in Monmouthshire, which was subsequently published. The celebrations in Connah’s Quay were more light hearted, including football and netball matches, a firework display, and a present of chocolates for primary-school children.
In 1953 services were held in the chapels of Penygroes, Carmarthenshire, and a cymanfa ganu in the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, to celebrate the coronation of Elizabeth II. Maesteg Council marked the occasion by publishing a special issue of its official guide.
These are just a few examples of events held throughout Wales and the United Kingdom. I wonder what publications will be added to our collections following this year’s celebrations.
Rare Books Librarian
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