Speaker’s State Coach to go on display in Devon

The Speaker’s State Coach, last used at the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, is to go on display in Devon.

Speakers State Coach at Arlington Court, Valerie Kaufmann Senior Conservator for Plowden & Smith pictured

Valerie Kaufmann, Senior Conservator for Plowden & Smith, inspects the Speakers State Coach at Arlington Court. Pic National Trust/Claire Bolitho

A symbol of the power and status of the Speaker of the House of Commons, the coach has been in use for state occasions since the early 18th century.

The loan of the coach by the House of Commons is the first in a series of exhibitions around the country where it can be seen and enjoyed by the public.

The coach will be the star attraction at Arlington Court’s Carriage Museum, near Bideford, which houses a collection of historic British carriages and coaches that were used for every occasion.

Speaker’s State Coach history

It is believed that the painted and gilded coach was made in 1698 for King William III. It was presented to the Speaker a few years later by Queen Anne.

[pullquote]The state coach is a magnificent example of an early 18th century carriage and an important piece of the United Kingdom’s parliamentary heritage.
John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons[/pullquote]

Last used by Speaker Thomas in 1981, the coach was then displayed at various venues in London before being removed for conservation work to begin.

The conservation now complete, the original and vibrant beauty and colours of the unique coach can be appreciated once more.

John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “The state coach is a magnificent example of an early 18th century carriage and an important piece of the United Kingdom’s parliamentary heritage. Therefore I am delighted that now it no longer has any practical role in parliamentary life it can be passed into the care of the National Trust and viewed by as wide an audience as possible”.

The Speaker’s State Coach will go on display at Arlington Court, near Barnstaple, Devon, from Saturday 12 March.

For opening times and further information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk or telephone 01271 850296.

Gallery: Speaker’s State Coach

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