London’s Westminster Abbey said visitors will get the chance this summer to follow King Charles’ coronation footsteps, getting access for the first time in living memory to an area sealed off to the public.
Charles will be crowned on May 6 at the church where coronations for English and British monarchs have been held for the past 1,000 years.
As part of special tours to be run in the weeks afterwards, visitors to the Abbey will be able to walk – having taken their shoes off – on the “Cosmati Pavement” near the High Altar where the Coronation Chair will be placed for the service.
“For the first time in known history, this pavement will be on view and used for a coronation,” said Vanessa Simeoni, the head conservator at the Abbey. “It is such a rare opportunity. Nobody apart from the clergy go up to this place.”
The mosaic flooring, made of marble, stone, glass and metal, was laid on the orders by King Henry III in 1268 and is unique in Britain, Simeoni said.
But it had been in such a state of poor repair that it had been hidden from view under a carpet since the 1870s and only underwent conservation work which ended in 2010.