George IV's Coronation
George IV (1762-1830) entered Westminster Hall at 10.30am on Thursday 19 July 1821, almost half an hour late, to join the assembled court. From here there was a large procession to Westminster Abbey, with George arriving at the West Door at 11.00am. The coronation service lasted 5 hours and afterwards the procession led back to Westminster Hall for the last coronation banquet held in England.
After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, Great Britain had arguably become the most powerful nation in Europe. Napoleon's coronation as Emperor of France on 2 December 1804 had been a lavish affair and George was determined that his coronation should outshine that of the deposed emperor. Parliament had voted £100,000 for the costs in 1820, which was supplemented by a further sum of £138,238.0s.2d paid 'out of Money received from France on Account of pecuniary Indemnity, under Treaty, Anno 1815', making this the most expensive coronation ever held in Britain costing over £9.5 million in today's money.
One of the most notable aspects of the coronation were the costumes worn by the participants in the procession. George had taken the idea for an ensemble approach to the costumes from Napoleon's coronation, but looked to an earlier historical source for the designs. Inspiration came from the costumes worn at the Tudor and Stuart courts of the late 16th and 17th centuries. The Annual Register 1821 reports that members of the procession wore,
"... splendid, and in some instances grotesque dresses ... Of the latter description were the dresses of the pursuivants, gentlemen pensioners, the attendants of the lords spiritual, and many others, which were fashioned after the model of the earliest times".
The costumes worn by the participants in the procession from Westminster Hall to the Abbey were one of its most notable aspects of George IV's coronation. George, with his personal interest in costume, assisted with the design of some of the outfits, which were loosely based on the clothing of the Elizabethan and Stuart periods.
Brighton & Hove City Museums' Royal Pavilion & Museums’ collections contain several pieces relating to George IV's coronation. These include:
-Outfits from the coronation
-Preparatory watercolour sketches by James Stephanoff for the engravings in Sir George Nayler's commemorative book, The Coronation of George IV, 1821
-Sir George Nayler's commemorative book, The Coronation of George IV, 1823
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