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Coronation benches inspired by schoolchildren’s hopes for the future take centre stage at the Tower of London

3 May 2023

To celebrate the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III, fourteen illustrated Coronation benches designed by schoolchildren across the UK have been installed at the Tower of London, where they will remain throughout the summer. The benches reflect the values and symbols that young people wish to define this new era.

As part of a nationwide competition, schoolchildren across the country were tasked with designing their own illustrated benches, exploring their hopes for the future during the new reign. Over 1,500 entries were submitted to the national Coronation Benches competition, launched by Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) – the independent charity that cares for the Tower of London. Of these, just fifteen winning designs were chosen to be brought to life in collaboration with global public art producers Wild in Art.

Visitors to the Tower of London between May and September will have the opportunity to visit each of the colourful illustrated installations – unmissable against the backdrop of the medieval White Tower. Four of the winning selection will look out onto the River Thames from the Tower wharf, greeting visitors and passers-by while providing a place to sit and reflect. Another ten benches will be positioned inside the Tower of London walls, bringing the voices of children and young people to the forefront as tens of thousands of visitors flock to the site this summer. As the home of the Crown Jewels, the Tower has seen many Coronations in its nearly 1000-year history. At the heart of the collection are the Coronation Regalia - the sacred objects used during the Coronation ceremony to represent the powers and responsibilities of the monarch.

The winning designs share some insight into what matters to children and young people today, with themes ranging from unity and peace, to resilience and care for the environment. A majestic golden lion features in a design by pupils from Alderwood School in Aldershot, positioned near to the iconic White Tower, while students at St Mary’s College in Hull have used imagery depicting creative and technical skills to decorate their bench, inspired by their belief that access to skills and creative learning for all is an important value for the future.

The winning bench design from Blythefield Primary School in Belfast has been installed at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, the official royal residence in Northern Ireland. Their unique design, featuring bright florals among the Coronation regalia, on a royal purple backdrop, can be found in the Walled Garden Summer House.

Historic Royal Palaces has also developed a collection of teaching resources to support all schools across the country as they mark this historic moment in the classroom. Pupils have the opportunity to explore the Coronation as a moment of transition and discover the symbolism of objects traditionally used in the ceremony, including the Crown Jewels. Many of the winning bench designs have been inspired by the use of these resources in the classroom, and feature drawings of the Coronation regalia and other symbols of monarchy.

The winning schools will also enjoy a VIP class trip to visit the Tower of London and see their benches in situ during June and July. The benches will remain at the Tower throughout the Coronation celebrations for everyone to enjoy before being gifted back to the schools as a permanent reminder of this historic year. Schoolchildren responsible for the winning design in Northern Ireland will have the opportunity to visit their bench at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens.

Ceri Fox, Senior Learning Producer at Historic Royal Palaces, said:

“We are delighted to see the winning designs brought to life and installed at the Tower of London, ready to welcome tens of thousands of visitors throughout the summer during this historic Coronation year. Schoolchildren across the country have worked hard to develop thoughtful and creative illustrations for their Coronation benches, and we look forward to welcoming the winning pupils for their VIP visits this summer.”

Notes to editors

For more information about the Tower of London and to book tickets, please visit: https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/

For more information on the Coronation schools project and for online learning resources, please visit: https://www.hrp.org.uk/schools/the-tower-of-london-schools-coronation-competition/

For further information or images about the Tower of London, please contact the HRP Press Office via [email protected]/ 020 3166 6166

Full list of Winning Schools

Alderwood Senior School, Aldershot
Blythefield Primary School, Belfast
Booker Avenue Infant School, Liverpool
Broomfield School, London
Corpus Christi Primary School, Glasgow
Dacre Braithwaite Primary School, Harrogate
Foreland Fields School, Kent
Fulwell Junior School, Sunderland
Llanishen High School, Cardiff
Loughton School, Milton Keynes
Milnthorpe Primary School, Cumbria
Moorlands Primary School, Huddersfield
Slade Primary School, Kent
St Mary’s College, Hull
The Blue Coat School, Birmingham

 

Historic Royal Palaces is a team of people who love and look after six of the most wonderful palaces in the world. We create space for spirits to stir and be stirred. We want everyone to feel welcome and accepted. We tell stories about the monarchs you know and the lives you don’t. We let people explore and we set minds racing. We are a charity and your support gives the palaces a future, for everyone.

Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk

 

Wild in Art is the leading producer of spectacular public art events that entertain, enrich, inform and leave a lasting legacy. It brings together businesses and creative sectors with schools and local communities through the creation of uniquely painted sculptures.

Since 2008 Wild in Art has animated cities across the world including London, Manchester, Sydney, Auckland, Cape Town and São Paulo, and created trails for the London 2012 Olympics, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Historic Royal Palaces and Penguin Random House.

Wild in Art events have:

  • Enabled over £23.6m to be raised for charitable causes
  • Injected £3.8m into local creative communities
  • Engaged over 1 million young people in learning programmes
  • Helped millions of people of all ages to experience art in non-traditional settings

wildinart.co.uk | @wildinart | #wildinart

 

BROWSE MORE HISTORY AND STORIES

Coronations Past and Present

An ancient ceremony, largely unchanged for a thousand years

The Crown Jewels

The history of the Crown Jewels, including the Imperial State Crown - a priceless collection used to crown the kings and queens of England.

The story of the Tower of London

Iconic fortress, royal palace and infamous prison