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The Coronation Roll
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The High Altar, Cosmati Pavement and Great Pulpit, Westminster Abbey
© Jim Dyson/Getty Images


Right at the heart of Westminster Abbey is an area that was specifically built to be spacious enough to hold coronations. From West to East, it spans from the end of the quire stalls, through the crossing to the Sacrarium which ends with the High Altar.

Similar to many Christian places of worship, Westminster Abbey is built in the shape of a cross, mirroring the shape of Jesus’ crucifix. This space where coronations happen is at the point in which the two parts of the cross meet. The Cosmati pavement was laid down in the theatre in 1268 by Italian and English craftsmen by order of Henry III who had started re-building Edward the Confessor’s Abbey in the new Gothic style in 1245. The mosaic pavement belongs to a type of inlaid stone decoration known as Cosmati work, after one of the families of craftsmen who specialized in it. The Coronation Chair is placed on the pavement, facing the High Altar, when the Monarch is crowned.

For further information on the history of the Coronation theatre, visit the Westminster Abbey website.