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Faiths, Forces and Charities to Join Historic Coronation Celebration at Exeter Cathedral

Photo by Russell Sach

On Sunday [7 May], Devon’s faith, defence forces and charity leaders will gather for a special Coronation Service of Celebration at Exeter Cathedral.

Led by The Very Revd Jonathan Greener, Dean of Exeter, with a sermon by The Right Revd Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter, the service will be attended by His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Devon, Lord Mayor of Exeter and other civic dignitaries. Exeter Cathedral Choir will sing the same music that will be heard during Saturday’s Coronation service at Westminster Abbey, and the event will finish with drinks and a loyal toast to the newly-crowned King.

Dean Jonathan said organisers are anticipating a full house for the celebration, which will be the first of its kind at the cathedral for 70 years. Reflecting on past events, he added:

“In September last year, all of us at Exeter Cathedral felt the palpable, collective sense of loss, as people from across Devon gathered here to remember our beloved late Queen. So, it is going to be very moving to see so many of those people return on Saturday, this time in joy and celebration of the Coronation of our new monarch, King Charles III.

“Exeter Cathedral has a long and historic association with the Royal Family, and with King Charles III in particular, whose Patronage of the Exeter Cathedral 2020s Development Appeal has been invaluable.”

As Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, the King and Queen Consort last visited Exeter Cathedral in 2021 for the first stop in a Royal tour of Devon and Cornwall, and their first official Royal Visit following the end of Coronavirus lockdown restrictions. It was the most recent visit in a long association between the cathedral and Royal Family, dating back nearly a thousand years. In 1050, the Cathedral and Diocese of Exeter were founded with the enthronement of Bishop Leofric, in a ceremony led by King Edward the Confessor and Queen Edith. In 1644, during the English Civil War, Henrietta Anne of England, the Exeter-born daughter of King Charles I, was baptised in the cathedral. She later married France’s Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, becoming Duchess of Orléans.

The service on Sunday is one of a series of events and activities at Exeter Cathedral to mark the historic occasion, starting on Friday evening [5 May], with a special Choral Evensong service including prayers for The King and Queen Consort. On Saturday [6 May], immediately following the Coronation service at Westminster Abbey, Exeter Cathedral’s bellringers will attempt a new ‘full-peal’ – the bell ringing equivalent of a marathon – expected to last for three and a half hours. Paul Pascoe, Secretary to the Cathedral Ringers explained:

“For the full-peal on Saturday we will attempt a new method that has been named the ‘King Charles III Delight Royal.’ This is a lighter, brighter ring of ten, that is only made possible by an extra bell, given to the cathedral during the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.”

Until 15 May, visitors can also see the cathedral’s Coronation and Our County exhibition, which brings together Coronation memorabilia lent by members of the public from across Devon. For younger visitors, there are paper crown making workshops taking place on 6 May, 8 May and 13 May, Coronation-themed colouring sheets and word search activities.

Exhibition organiser Jonathan Scott, Heritage Engagement Manager at Exeter Cathedral, concluded: 

“This is a great, historic event – for the cathedral, for all the people of Devon, the country and the Commonwealth – so we wanted to offer something for everyone, of all ages, to come and enjoy this important occasion at Exeter Cathedral.”

It is free to attend the Coronation Service of Celebration on Sunday 7 May at 4pm, but places should be reserved in advance. The Choral Evensong service on Friday 5 May at 5:30pm is also free of charge and open to all visitors without advance booking. The Coronation and Our County exhibition is open during cathedral visiting hours and admission is included in the standard entry price. Children’s crown-making and colouring activities are taking place in the cathedral on 8 May, 6 May and 13 May, and are also included in the standard cathedral entry price.