Exhibitions and tours at St Edmundsbury Cathedral celebrate the Coronation and Monarchy

St Edmundsbury Cathedral is celebrating the upcoming Coronation of King Charles III with two exhibitions reflecting the monarchy and guided and self-guided tours highlighting the building’s royal connections. 

The Suffolk Heraldry Exhibition begins tomorrow, May 2, and runs until May 16.

It showcases the colourful world of royal heraldry and is presented by the Suffolk Heraldry Society. Visitors will explore the changes in English royal heraldry from just before the Norman conquest to the present day with examples of the arms of the Kings and Queens. 

The Suffolk Heraldry Society was founded in 1977 to encourage an awareness and interest in heraldry in all its aspects but mainly focussed in Suffolk. This county is rich in heraldry in public buildings, old houses, inns, village signs and particularly churches.

The origins of heraldry can be traced to the medieval battlefield where the shield was the main defence and because knights in armour (which covered the face) were unrecognisable, the broad flat surface of the shield was used as a means of identifying friend from foe. It was decorated with a design and colours that were unique to each knight. He also wore a tunic over his armour, similarly decorated, and this was his coat of arms. These armorial bearings were handed down from father to son and thus became indications of descent as well as identity.

Alongside the Heraldry Exhibition from May 4 to 17, the cathedral will display artwork by sculptor Barry Davies (pictured above).His work, Bronze Statuary and Sculptures of Historical figures and Depictions of Natural History, includes Saint David, the Patron Saint of Wales; Llywelyn the Great; King Henry V on the coronation throne in Westminster Abbey and Equus, a hunter/thoroughbred type horse.

He said: “The statues of historical figures allow me to learn not only about the person depicted but also the history of that point in time and the story surrounding that character.”

 Also available to visitors during May is a self-guided Royal Connections tour. Visitors can use either a printed guide, or a digital QR trail, to find all the royal connections in the cathedral, from coats of arms to stained glass windows and much more.

The trail is free of charge and is a great way for new and returning visitors to enjoy the cathedral’s art and history.

For those who prefer a guided tour with the cathedral’s visits team, royal-themed tours will be available Bank Holiday Mondays, on May 8 and 29, and Saturdays, May 13, 20 and 27. £6 per person, bookable at the Cathedral Shop. 

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