The Royal School of Needlework has worked on pieces for every Coronation of the British Royal Family since it was founded in 1872. Below you can see a few special items from the RSN Collection & Archive from these historic occasions. To see more fascinating pieces, book your place at our Coronation Display and find out more about our work undertaken for past Coronations, as well as the most recent Coronation of King Charles III. The special Display is at Hampton Court Palace and open until May 2024.
Elizabeth II (1953) – Robe of Estate Sampler
The RSN created a Goldwork sampler based on the Queen’s Robe ‘Wheat and Olive’ embroidery for an exhibition. This has been much used by the RSN since then. The sampler showcases the 18 varieties of Gold Thread use to create the embroidery design. The sampler is part of the RSN Collection & Archive. As well as velvet from The Queen’s Robe of Estate.
The RSN was awarded a Coronation Medal for its work on the Coronation Robe of Estate.
George VI (1937) – Butterfly Brooches
The RSN worked with Reville’s, who asked former service personnel, injured or suffering from disabilities, to make butterfly brooches from the scraps of the red and purple velvet from the Coronation Robes of Estate of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, Queen Consort. These were on sale at a Coronation exhibition and sold very well.
George V (1911) – Altar Dorsal
The RSN worked on an altar dorsal, which is situated above and behind the altar. It was part of the gift that the monarch makes to Westminster Abbey on the occasion of the Coronation. It depicted St John as a beggar, being given a ring by St Edward. The piece also featured kneeling figures of the King and Queen. While the RSN does not have the dorsal, that remains at Westminster Abbey and is used at least annually at St Edwardtide in October, we do have some of the design elements from Miss Rosina Smith.
Edward VII (1902) – Little Jar of Memories
This was donated by a RSN Life Friend who had been given this little pot by her great aunt. It contains fragments of gold thread and velvets, plus a little handwritten note saying “Cuttings of the Coronation Robes of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Worked by Rosina Smith 1902”. Miss Smith, the great aunt of the RSN Life Friend, worked at the Royal School of Needlework.