Last week I made a whistle-stop trip to the Museum of London to look at Adam Lee’s 1808 plan of the old Palace of Westminster in their Library. This was a document I had been trying to track down for at least a year, thanks to a garbled footnote. Job done, I headed for the exit via the galleries and passed the Lord Mayor’s Coach, which the Museum described – very memorably – as a “Throne on Wheels”.
The Palace of Westminster has its own “Thone on Wheels” in the form of the Speaker’s State Coach, last used in 1981 at the wedding of Charles and Diana. Originally made for William III in 1698, it was presented to the Speaker by Queen Anne shortly afterwards. We know that the Speaker’s residence in the old Palace of Westminster included an extensive range of stables, outbuildings and kitchens running along the riverside east of New Palace Yard. It must have been there that the Speaker’s State Coach was parked at the time of the 1834 fire. For some years it was on display in Westminster Hall, but earlier this year it was loaned to the National Trust’s Carriage Collection at Arlington Court, in Devon, fully conserved and put on view for the public alongside other fantastic chariots, broughams, landaus, barouches and phaetons.
|The Speaker’s State Coach undergoing conservation|