Westminster Abbey to host shoe-free tours after King Charles III’s coronation
Visitors to Westminster Abbey will get the chance to stand in their socks on the exact spot of King Charles III’s coronation.
The so-called barefoot tour will for the first time allow people to access the area where every monarch has been crowned for the past 700 years.
Visitors will be asked to remove their shoes to avoid wear and tear to the now-conserved floor, known as the Cosmati pavement, where the coronation chair has been since the 13th century.
“Standing on the pavement and feeling that sense of awe of being in the central part of the abbey is a really amazing experience,” said Scott Craddock, head of visitor experience at the abbey.
“It will give people the opportunity to feel what it’s like being at that center stage of the coronation.”
The medieval mosaic floor, which was commissioned by Henry III and completed in 1268 by Italian craftsmen and English masons, had been hidden under carpets for 150 years because of disrepair.
But on May 6 the coronation chair will again be placed on the intricate mosaic floor made of marble, stone, glass and metal for the ancient ceremony.
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The pavement, located in front of the abbey’s high altar, underwent a two-year restoration programme in 2010.
It is believed to depict the universe with a globe at its centre and is said to be the best surviving example outside Italy of a rare type of mosaic stonework known as “Cosmati”, after the Italian family which created it.
“It’s a unique piece of art to Westminster Abbey but also to Britain itself — there are no other mosaic pavements like this in the UK,” said Vanessa Simeoni, the abbey’s head conservator.
The ceremony to crown King Charles will be watched by a limited number of people in the Abbey itself, with the guest list including royals from both home and abroad, the UK Prime Minister, other heads of state, and representatives from the British Houses of Parliament.
The public will be able to watch the event on television and via giant screens at 30 locations across the UK.
Experts from the abbey will guide the tours, which will run on some days from May 15 to July 29.