Special Exhibits - Royal Thrones
Royal Thrones

Finials for the Royal Thrones

The splendid thrones and banquette on display at Wizardry in Wood were the focal point of the sumptuous furnishings of the Spirit of Chartwell, the barge which carried the royal family down the Thames on June 3rd 2012.

In February 2012, the Jubilee Pageant committee approached Steve Chapman, Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Upholders and M.D. of Albert E Chapman Ltd, Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers. Could he make the thrones and banquettes?

Yes, he could; but with only three months to go, Steve called on his fellow members of the Liveries Wood Group; the five Livery Companies whose craft uses wood (the Carpenters, Furniture-makers, Turners, Upholders and Joiners & Ceilers).

The Turners' Company gave the six finials which graced the thrones and a banquette.

Liveryman and supreme craftsman Stuart Mortimer turned them in English oak, in the shape of a chalice topped with an acorn, on a base of spiral fluting, with a rope twist around the rim.

On each left-hand finial, the twist and fluting have a left-hand twist, so that the twisting points to the left; on the right-hand finial, they are righthanded.

Valerie Kaufmann, Freeman of the Company of Arts Scholars and a director of Plowden & Smith, Conservators, painted the finials to match the red velvet of the thrones.

Upholstery velvet has a relatively shallow pile, but even so it changes colour according to the light, and Valerie had to paint and repaint to meet the perfectionist standards of Joseph Bennett, the film-set designer in charge of the barge's appearance.

Finally, the fluting and twists were gilded by Anthea Bisson of Plowden & Smith; and Nic Somers, Court Assistant of the Turners' Company who organised this complex project, breathed several sighs of relief.