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Westminster Abbey offers shoes-off tour of Coronation site

Image: A conservation team work on the Cosmati pavement at Westminster Abbey, London, 2009 (CC by SA 3.0 Christine Smith)

The guided tour, which sold out in less than 24 hours, will see visitors walk on the Abbey’s mosaic floor for the first time “in living memory”

A guided tour of the Westminster Abbey site of the King’s Coronation has been made available to visitors for the first time, and has already sold out.

The tour, ‘Crown and Church,’ is part of a series of events to mark the Coronation at the Abbey and will take place after the Coronation.

For the first time, it will allow those who have managed to secure a ticket access to the Cosmati pavement, which can normally only be viewed from the bottom of the High Altar steps.

The pavement, a mosaic floor of marble, stone, glass and metal sits in front of the High Altar, and was commissioned by Henry III. completed in 1268, it is where coronations have taken place ever since.

Abbey experts will guide small groups of ten, who will be taken onto the floor and asked to remove their shoes to help protect the pavement’s surface.

The Abbey said it is the first time “in living memory” that members of the public will walk on the pavement, where the Coronation Chair will be placed for the crowning of HM The King on Saturday 6th May.

Scott Craddock, Head of Visitor Experience said:“The Coronation will be a joyous and significant moment for the nation, and for Westminster Abbey. We hope that our special programme of events and digital resources gives everyone an opportunity to join in with the celebrations.”

The Abbey’s programme of events for the coronation also includes a Coronation exhibition
at Chapter House, which will explore the key elements of a coronation service and its historic artefacts from Tuesday 11th April.