Tuesday, 23 April 2013

About St Edward's Staff

The Maces have an average weight of 323oz (10.04ke and most are some 5ft (152.4cm) in length. The head of each mace is decorated with royal arms and cypbers and national emblems including the rose, thistle, harp and fleur-de-lys.

The Processional Objects

The Maces

Royal maces began as close protection weapons carried by the king's personal escort the Sergeants-at-Arms. They later developed into ceremonial staffs carried by the king's officers and today, as symbols of royal authority, they can be used to represent the Sovereign; the House of Commons for example can only do its full business when the royal mace is present.

Detail from the coronation procession of James 11, 1687, showing one of the King's Sergeants-At-Arms bearing a royal mace. In the reign of Charles II there were sixteen Sergeants-at-Arms each of whom required a mace. Today there are only three and their duties are purely ceremonial. The maces were traditionally passed from one Sergeant-at-Arms to another and until the 18th century were usually held by the officer who carried them on duty. Thirteen royal maces survive today. Ten are on display in the Jewel House but on State occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament, or a coronation, two are temporarily removed to be carried in procession. Of the remaining three, one is kept permanently at the House of Commons, the second at the House of Lords and the third in the Lord Chancellor's Office. All the maces date from the latter half of the 17th century though most have been altered during subsequent repairs.

The Swords

At a coronation three swords are carried unsheathed, points upwards, into the Abbey and continue to be carried throughout the ceremony, but play no active part in the service. They are the Sword of Mercy (the Curtana), the Sword of Spiritual Justice and the Sword of Temporal Justice. It is highly probable that all three swords were made before the Civil War for the coronation of Charles I and survived Cromwell's destruction of the regalia because they were not intrinsically precious. Evidence suggests that they were used at the coronation of Charles II in 1661 but the first documented record of their use is at the coronation of James II in 1685. They have been used at all subsequent coronations.

The Swords of Temporal Justice, Spiritual Justice and Mercy (the Curtana) early 17th century. These three swords represent types that have been used in the coronation ceremony since the Middle Ages. They only became a permanent part of the regalia in the 17th century: for almost 200 years prior to this they had been provided new for each coronation.
The blade of the Curtana has a blunt end which is associated with the legend of Ogier the Dane, who in revenge for the murder of his son, was about to strike down the son of the Emperor Charlemagne when an angel appeared and struck his sword aside, breaking the end of it and saying "Mercy is better than revenge". Consequently, this sword always has a blunt end, symbolising mercy. The sword of Spiritual Justice and the Sword of Mercy both bear the 'running wolf' mark on their blades. This was originally the town mark of Passau in Bavaria but was later widely copied.

Also carried in procession is the two-handed Sword of State, 1678, symbolising the Sovereign's royal authority. It was first used at the coronation of James II in 1685 and has been used by all his successors. Iris carried, sheathed, during the first part of the coronation ceremony then exchanged for the Jewelled Sword of Offering when it is required for use. It is also used at the State Opening of Parliament where it is carried before the Sovereign by a senior officer from one of the services.

St Edwards Stall, 1661. Made of gold with a steel spike at its end, St Edward's Staff is 56" (142cm) in length and weighs 55oz I9dwt (1.74kg). A second Sword of State, the former Irish Sword of State, is also on display, although no longer used. It was made in c.1660 c.1661 and was formally held by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland as the Sovereign’s representative, and on state occasions was carried before him in procession. The sword remained in Ireland until the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922.

St Edward's Staff, 1661

St Edward's Staff was supplied by Sir Robert Viner for Charles H's coronation in 1661. However, its symbolism had long since been forgotten and it has only ever been carried in procession before the Sovereign and laid on the altar in the Abbey where it remains taking no further part in the ceremony. Many legends have surrounded the staff and a Tower of London guidebook of 1831 even claimed that the monde at the top concealed a "fragment of the true cross". Perhaps it can best be likened to the pastoral staff of a bishop.

The Trumpets

There are sixteen silver Stare Trumpets dating from between 1780 and 1848. Nine are hung with red silk damask banners made for the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838 but now embroidered with the arms and cyphers of Edward VII and George V (or VI). The remaining seven trumpets are displayed with the banqueting plate.

The Sword of State, 1678, has a steel blade and a wooden velvet-covered scabbard decorated with silver-gilt motifs including the fleur-de-lys, harp, thistle, Tudor rose, portcullis and the royal arms of William III.
The State Trumpets have not been used since the middle of the last century when the Corps of civilian State Trumpeters was disbanded by the Duke of Wellington as an economy measure. The trumpets cannot now be played as their present mouth pieces arc drilled substitutes: the original mouthpieces were traditionally retained by the trumpeters as their personal property. Nowadays, the Household Cavalry provides trumpeters who use their own trumpets for coronations and other state occasions.


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