The Coronation Ceremony of King George IV

King George 4 close up

King George IV in his coronation robes

Following the death of his father King George III on the 29th January 1820, the then Prince Regent succeeded his father as King George IV of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. By the time of his coronation George was 57 and had been ruling as Prince Regent for almost 10 years following the deterioration of his fathers mental health. As a Prince, George was known for his extravagant tastes and exuberant lifestyle. His coronation in 1821 was an excellent example of the new King’s appetite for self-indulgence.   

The Prince spared no expense for his coronation which took place on the 19th July 1821. He spent approximately £243,00 on the ceremony which equates to about £21,751,000 in today’s money! In comparison his father spent only £10,000 on his coronation. A significant proportion of the cost was spent on were the costumes worn by the participants in the procession. Each item was an Elizabethan or Stuart styled piece made up of red, blue and gold fabrics. George’s costume was an extravagant 16-foot silk, velvet and fur robe which had to be carried by page boys, who were instructed to spread out when carrying his robe so that the spectators could view its elaborate embroidery, as he made his way through the procession. He also wore a brown curled wig and a black cap with ostrich and heron feathers  

Arthur Duke of Wellington

Arthur Duke of Wellington

A notable missing person from his coronation was his wife Caroline of Brunswick from whom he had long been estranged from for many years following the birth of their only daughter Charlotte. He had sort a divorce for many years but was advised against it as it would bring to light some of his own adulterous relationships. Instead he bared Caroline from attending the coronation and from being crowned Queen. She did attempt to gain entry to Westminster Abbey but found all of the entrances blocked by guards who were given strict instructions not to permit her entry. The only women present at the coronation were the flower girls, who by tradition sprinkled herbs and flowers along the processional route to ward off pestilence and disease 

HRH Leopold Duke of Saxony 2.5

Leopold Duke of Saxony, the husband of King George’s daughter Charlotte

To celebrate the new King’s coronation John Whittaker, a printer and publisher, created an illustrated book in 1823. He commissioned brothers James and Frances Stephanoff to create the drawings which were taken from the coronation procession. Shortly after publication Whittaker became bankrupt due to the high costs in producing the book as the printing method used real gold to emboss the illustrations. Later in 1837 the book was republished by George Nayler and Henry Bohn. Guildhall Library holds copies of both books which are available to consult in the library (proof of ID required) 

Ackermann’s Repository of Arts

Front Page 1825

This image is of the front page of one of the volumes dated 1825.

The Repository of Arts was an illustrated periodical which focused on art, literature, commerce, manufactures, fashions and politics. It was published by Rudolph Ackermann from 1809-1828. The Repository influenced fashion, architecture and literature during the Regency and late Georgian period.  The last issue of The Repository of Arts was published in 1828 before it was taken over by The Repository of Fashion. This new periodical did not last long as in 1829 it merged with La Belle Assemblée, a women’s fashion magazine.

Black Prominade Dress 1828.jpg

This is an image of a black promenade dress from a 1828 edition. 

Each edition of The Repository of Arts contains various images of architectural structures around Britain as well as beautiful illustrations of popular women’s fashions. In several of the editions small squares of fabric which have been attached to the page to display the popular new styles of fabric patterns in some of the illustrations. Some of these are colourfully patterned fabrics which are still in excellent condition despite some pieces being over 200 years old!

Fabric Patterns 1809

This is one of the many examples of fabric squares which have been advertised in The Repository.

The description which accompanies the above fabric samples is as follows:

‘No. 1 is a yellow printed Book muslin, ell-wide, admirably adapted for ladies’ evening dresses, and furnished by Messrs. Smith and Co. 43 Tavistock Street, Covent Garden.

No. 2, a striped muslin, or nainsook, 6-4ths wide, is an extremely elegant article for morning dresses, and was supplied by Messrs. Brisco and Powley, 103 New Bond Street.

No. 3 is a printed cambric-muslin, 9-8ths wide. It is a highly fashionable article, and uncommonly elegant, from the delicacy of its design and print, which have authority to assure the public to be a permanent colour. It was furnished by the same house as the preceding pattern.

No. 4. This chintz, or shawl pattern marcella, ¾ wide, is a truly elegant and fashionable article for gentlemen’s waistcoats. It was furnished by Messrs. Richard Smith and Co. 2 Prince’s Street, Leicester Square.’

Some editions also contain various fashionable furniture pieces as well as intricate interior designs. Several designs from The Repository focus on Gothic styled pieces which include chairs, beds, bookcases and fireplaces amongst other elaborate pieces. Each piece is highly detailed, beautifully illustrated and coloured in with brief descriptions on the design and function of each piece.

We hold a complete set of Ackermann’s Repository of Arts which have been bound into 40 Volumes. They are free for the public to view as long as you bring some form of ID with you. You can view our catalogue entry for The Repository of Arts here.

Red Prominade dress 1825

This is a red promenade dress from 1825. 

The above image taken from the Repository of Arts is part of our ‘Treasures of Guildhall Library’ Photowall, located in our John Stow Room, which celebrates some of our most iconic and interesting items.

By Lindsey Keeling, Customer Services Apprentice