Britain will be flying the flag with pride this year to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III on 6 May – with an extra Bank Holiday for us all to enjoy the festivities. While London is set to be the centre of celebrations, here are a few more ways to mark a historic royal event not seen in the UK for seven decades.
Stoke-on-Trent’s ‘jewels’ set to crown Coronation
Britain’s spiritual home of ceramics is set to play a leading role in celebrating this royal milestone with special ceramic collections, all made in Stoke-on-Trent. Regarded as a world ‘Capital of Ceramics’ – and the only city in Britain to be named after its primary industry, The Potteries – the area is a leading destination when it comes to looking for distinctive ways to commemorate a once-in-a-lifetime event. Offering a host of award-winning attractions, tours, and factory shops, it is still home to some of the biggest names in UK ceramics, some of which are marking the Coronation with specially designed ranges:
Popular lifestyle brand Emma Bridgewater has launched its first ever collection to mark a royal coronation, which includes half pint mugs, small plates and cake stands, as well as tea pots and a special crown piece for collectors. This new collection is just the latest in a long history of royal connections, with the Stoke-on-Trent factory graced by several visits from members of the Royal Family, including in 2010 by the King and Queen Consort (then Prince and Princess of Wales). For those keen to sneak behind the scenes of this canal-side Victorian factory, tours offer a chance to see the craftsmanship that goes into every piece of Emma Bridgewater pottery – and even the chance to spot some of the new royal collection being made.
Stoke-on-Trent will also be bringing something blue to the coronation celebrations. Another famous Potteries name, Spode, has unveiled a new collection to celebrate the King’s coronation – again, made in Stoke-on-Trent. As well as being produced in the city, the seven-piece collection – including a nine-inch commemorative plate, a souvenir mug and a teapot – gives a nod to the manufacturer’s most famous designs by featuring details synonymous with the monarch, all in Spode’s iconic cobalt blue.
Taking its inspiration from not only the ceremony itself, but also Westminster Abbey and King Charles favourite flowers, Moorcroft’s new Coronation range also links back to its own history. Among the range – available as limited editions – is a lidded box reflecting the Abbey’s architecture as well as to the time of the pottery’s founder William Moorcroft, with the box shape last used for the coronation of King Charles III’s grandfather, King George VI in 1937. Moorcroft’s classic twin-handled vase has been reimagined as an ampulla, a nod to one of the most sacred items in the Coronation service, used for the anointing of the monarch. And as a tribute to the Queen Consort Camilla, a Queen of the Border vase is inspired by the King’s favourite flower, the delphinium. Moorcroft Heritage Visitor Centre will also be staging its first indoor street party, on Friday 28 April, offering the chance to see the Coronation Collection in person, and view an exhibition of historic royal commemorative designs (tickets are £17.50 per person and must be pre booked).
One of the world’s leading producers of English fine bone china, Halcyon Days, has plenty of history with royal commemorations – including taking a collection of its hand-decorated teapots and enamelled trinket boxes to Windsor Castle to see Queen Elizabeth II during her Platinum Jubilee. She was also treated to a demonstration of traditional enamelling and gilding by hand as part of the event held in White Drawing Room of Windsor Castle. Now, the Stoke-on-Trent company is marking the King’s Coronation with a range of commemorative enamels and fine bone chinawhich includes a Coronation Cypher Enamel Box with the King’s cypher set in gold above the year of the coronation, and a Coronation Gold Prestige Musical Box, hand decorated in gold with the King’s Royal Cypher at its centre, supported by the crowned English lion and Scottish unicorn of the Royal Coat of Arms.
Elsewhere, there will be plenty of special events, festivals and good old-fashioned celebrations, inlcuding:
Be your own King of the Castle
Here’s a chance to celebrate the coronation weekend in a castle spanning 1,000 years of history. Mark the occasion at Lincoln Castle over the Bank Holiday weekend in May with three days of regal celebrations, with live entertainment from the Castle bandstand, and plenty of space for visitors to enjoy a picnic. Providing the perfect backdrop, the grounds of this Norman castle – home to a medieval Castle Wall Walk with spectacular views, a Victorian prison and the Magna Cartas Vault housing one of only four surviving copies of the 1215 Magna Carta – will be dressed in celebratory colours for the historic weekend. The Castle grounds will be free to enjoy between 6 and 8 May, inclusive of the bandstand entertainment, and the ceremony itself will be shown live on a big screen on Saturday 6 May. All other admission fees apply.
In the market for a regal bargain
This year Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire is marking the 850th anniversary of the granting of the market town’s first charter. Awarded its royal charter of incorporation in 1173 by King Henry II, the town will be celebrating its market heritage with events and activities every month of the year, including one that celebrates 2023’s royal milestone. Set in the heart of the town centre, the historic market will offer a royal themed market fun day on 6 May, 9am to 5pm, with regular general stalls, special event traders and entertainers.
Curious contraptions crown seaside spectacle
For a very different take on celebrations, head to the East Yorkshire seaside resort of Bridlington for a weekend crowned with a mix of fun-filled fantasy festival and regal pageantry. The Great Bridlington Steampunk Weekend – a genre of science fiction and fantasy combining spectacular Victorian fashion with a reimagined world powered by steam – takes place at the Bridlington Spa Royal Hall, 6 – 7 May. Expect the usual Steampunk favourites of top hats, flying goggles, corsets and flamboyant feathers, but fittingly this year the free admission family festival will be themed around the King’s Coronation. The Royal Hall will be decorated in a riot of red, white and blue, while the ceremony will be shown live on large projector screens, as well in a dedicated Screen Room.
Full steam ahead for a right royal weekend
A trumpet fanfare, music from around the British Isles, a best decorated Coronation cake and a special Coronation train… Hampshire’s heritage steam railway the Watercress Line aims to throw a Royal Celebration on Sunday 7 May. Promising a “splendid afternoon of music, entertainment, fun and celebration.” the area to the front of Alresford Station will be decorated in majestic style for the event, and organisers also hint that regal party-goers may also catch sight of a specially dressed Coronation train. Known as the Watercress Line thanks to its history of transporting watercress to the UK’s fresh produce markets during the industry’s heyday in Victorian times, the Mid Hants Railway is one of the country’s most successful heritage railways. Tickets must be booked in advance at £5 adults, and £3 children (5-16 years).
Emma Bridgewater Coronation Collection, Stoke-on-Trent. Photo Emma Bridgewater
Lincoln Castle's grounds will host coronation weekend celebrations
Bridlington Spa, East Yorkshire