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28th Apr 2023

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In celebration of the coronation of Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort on the 6 May, a new exhibition entitled “Crowns and Coronets - Coronations and the Percy family through time” has opened at Alnwick Castle.

Featuring four coronets, robes, historic archives, music, diaries, photographs and artefacts, the exhibition appeals to anyone who would like to explore the history of the royal ceremony and recall the splendour and ceremony of previous coronations through the eyes of various members of the Percy family.

The new exhibits feature items that date back over 500 years and includes an eyewitness account of the coronation of King Richard III and Queen Anne in 1483. The manuscript describes how the 4th Earl of Northumberland carried one of the ceremonial swords, Curtana (the Sword of Mercy) before the King at his coronation. 470 years later, the 10th Duke of Northumberland, the present Duke’s father, also carried Curtana at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. A photograph from a series of albums collated by Elizabeth, 10th Duchess features the 10th Duke at his London home, Syon House, practising for his role wearing a ducal coronet, coronation robes and using a walking stick in place of the sword.

The Baroness’ coronet, one of four magnificent coronets on display, belonged to Elizabeth Percy who, at her father’s death in 1750, had inherited vast estates and property as well as the title of Baroness Percy. Though her husband, Sir Hugh Smithson had taken the Percy name and gained the title Earl and Countess of Northumberland, Elizabeth, fiercely proud of her own ancestry, insisted on wearing the lower-ranking coronet of a Baroness at the coronation of King George III and Queen Charlotte in 1761.

For the first time ever, historic costumes worn by Percy family members at the 1937 Coronation are displayed together, alongside photographs, printed ephemera and a selection of coronation souvenirs from the coronations of 1911, 1937 and 1953.

The exhibition is included in the price of entry to Alnwick Castle where, in addition to ‘Crowns and Coronets’, visitors can expect a fun-filled day of history, entertainment, and activities. Each ticket acts as an automatic annual pass, allowing for multiple visits throughout the year to benefit from the full events programme.

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