Exploring York Minster's monarchy links from Royal weddings to Queen's visit in 2012

Many moments in Royal history have been witnessed within York Minster, which in its first form was a small wooden church built for the baptism of King Edwin in 627 AD.

Now rare treasures from its collection are to be shared with the public for the first time in an exhibition to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

A special selection of pieces, including some never seen in public before, are to feature in Majesty: Monarchy and York Minster, which runs from tomorrow until the end of the year.

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Among them are Chinese silks, gifted to Queen Victoria on her wedding day, and the Minster’s ancient ‘coronation chair’, believed to have once been used by Anglo-Saxon kings.

Kim Davies, heritage and participant officer with the Braganzia Crozier, the symbol of the Bishops office believed to have been presented to James Smith , vicar Apostolic of the Northern District by Catherine of Braganzia, the Roman Catholic widow of Charles II in 1688. Image: Tony Johnson

Maundy money, distributed in York by the Queen in 2012 will also feature, as will a dialect poem celebrating the coronation of Queen Victoria.

And as each piece offers an insight into the history of York Minster, the exhibition traces the influence on its present of the monarchy through time.

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Rosalind Kelly with a copy of the Yorkshire Post Coronation supplement from 1953 on show at York Minster. Image: Tony Johnson.

Helen Rawson, head of heritage at York Minster, said the cathedral has had strong Royal connections since King Edwin’s conversion to Christianity in 627AD.

As well as being the site of the wedding of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault in 1328, Richard III’s son Edward was invested at the old Archbishop’s Palace as Prince of Wales in 1483.

She said: “These associations have continued over the centuries with Queen Elizabeth II’s mother, then Duchess of York, attending the re-dedication of the famous medieval Five Sisters window in memory of the women who died in service of the British Empire during the First World War, while her husband the Duke of York, later George VI, unveiled the York City War Memorial.”

Other highlights of the exhibition include footage from the royal wedding of Prince Edward to his Yorkshire bride Katharine Worsley in 1961.

Maundy money given by the Queen during her visit in 2012. Picture Tony Johnson

A rare manuscript part-book also features, compiled for the choir in the 18th century and featuring Handel’s anthem ‘Zadok the Priest’, which is performed at the coronation of every British monarch.


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Dr Helen Rawson, Head of heritage and participation officer with the seal matrix of the Vicars Choral of York Mister dating from 1421. It shows the southern side of the Minster in the days when it had a spire. Image: Tony Johnson.