Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Coronation Day

Today is the sixty eighth anniversary of the Coronation of H.M.The Queen in 1953. Today has also been chosen for the release of plans for the celebrations of Her Majesty’s Platignum Jubilee which will be focussed on four days beginning exactly a year hence. From what has  been said this looks a distinct improvement on the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, but we shall have to see what transpires in coming months as plans are finalised.

This evening my intention at Mass was for The Queen and to give thanksgiving for her Coronation. On that day I was a babe or toddler-in-arms and slumbered through the television broadcast at my grandmother’s house. I have been making up for that dereliction of loyalty ever since ....

For those of my generation and older the images of the Coronation were part of our growing up, and with three others earlier in the century in 1902,1911 and 1937 the mystery and majesty of the rite was relatively familiar. In 1953 television brought it into the homes of the nation.

Today, in the longest reign in British history, for all the online availability of film and photograph, I suspect that is less so. As and when a future Coronation is being planned it is to be hoped that those with real expertise in liturgy and ceremonial, and also historians like J.H. Round in 1902, Percy Schramm in 1937 and Roy Strong more recently, can help to make the seemingly arcane ceremonies no less dignified and solemn than as on past occasions, but also convey to the uninitiated their profound significance. A Coronation is not mere dressing up and processing around - it is a unique moment of national coherence around the Monarch, who links it both to itself, to it past and its future, and to the Almighty.

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