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The Speaker's State Coach

Category

Carriages & other vehicles

Date

1690 - 1710

Materials

Gilded carved wood body with silk interior and four iron shod wheels.

Place of origin

London

Collection

National Trust Carriage Museum (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Arlington Court and The National Trust Carriage Museum, Devon, South West, National Trust

NT 272956.1

Caption

The coach is traditionally thought to have been made for King William III around 1698 to designs either by, or influenced by, the French Huguenot Daniel Marot, before being presented to the Speaker a few years later by Queen Anne. The iconography of the paintings supports the theory of this royal patron. The crossed maces at the bottom of the doors, which have been part of the carved decoration for centuries, provide clear evidence that the association of this coach with the Speaker is long-lived. The coach has carried the identity of individual Speakers through the small oval plaques bearing their coats of arms, the most recent of which can still be seen on the coach (Speaker Weatherill and Speaker Martin).

Summary

Speaker's Coach built circa 1698 possibly by Daniel Marot for King William III. The Speaker's Coach (four wheels) is traditionally thought to have been made for King William III around 1698 to designs either by, or influenced by, the French Huguenot Daniel Marot, before being presented to the Speaker a few years later by Queen Anne. The iconography of the paintings supports the theory of this royal patron. The crossed maces at the bottom of the doors, which have been part of the carved decoration for centuries, provide clear evidence that the association of this coach with the Speaker is long-lived. The coach has carried the identity of individual Speakers through the small oval plaques bearing their coats of arms, the most recent of which can still be seen on the coach (Speaker Weatherill and Speaker Martin). Early records of the coach are scarce, the first mention being by Speaker Abbott in 1802, who paid his predecessor Speaker Mitford (Lord Redesdale) £1,060 for the State Coach which he described as ‘built in 1701 and repaired in 1801’. There is one earlier record of the coach in a local newspaper which describes the flooding of the houses of Parliament in the 18th century and how the Speaker's state coach was affected . The carved woodwork of the coach body is of very high quality, fitting for a state coach, and shows Dutch influence. For a piece of this complexity a number of skilled woodcarvers would have worked together, those with greater sculptural training fashioning the three dimensional carving, whilst others undertook the more two dimensional carving on the flat areas and on the frames around the windows. The quality of the metalwork is similarly impressive. The two arched swan necks to the rear of the front wheels are the most technically complex pieces of wrought iron, and the fact that each is almost identical, is a particular tribute to the skill of the metalworkers. The painted panel on the door shows a seated figure traditionally identified as King William III who is being presented with two scrolls (Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights). Beside him are the allegorical figures of Liberty, Fame and Justice (blindfolded). The door on the other side of the coach has a matching painted panel with a seated female figure identified as Queen Mary.

Provenance

Loaned to the National Trust in March 2011, by Malcolm Hay curator of the Palace of Westminster

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