Diocese of Portsmouth

    Island children act out the Coronation service

    4 May 2023

    CHILDREN from an Isle of Wight primary school acted out the King's Coronation service - two days before the real thing.

    The pupils from Bembridge C of E Primary School took part in a special act of worship in their school hall, to help them to understand this weekend's ceremony in Westminster Abbey. Five-year-old Freddie Derbyshire and four-year-old Blossom Packham played the parts of King Charles and Queen Camilla, who were crowned by Mason Goldring, 11, as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    Other children dressed as heralds blowing trumpets, royal pages and even the horses pulling the golden carriage. Some pupils were Coronation guides, who narrated the service in rhyming couplets. Others held the golden orb, the gold sceptre and the oil used for anointing the King. Enthusiastic Year 4 pupils zoomed up and down the aisle dressed as the Red Arrows performing a flypast.

    The special collective worship was put together after staff discussed the Coronation with the school council. And it was led by Sally Davies, churchwarden from Holy Trinity Church and school governor, and retired priest the Rev Stuart Holt. It was part of their weekly visits into school on behalf of Holy Trinity Church.

    Pupils hold the crown and sceptre as they prepare to act out the Coronation service
    Mason Goldring as the Archbishop of Canterbury is given some tips by the Rev Stuart Holt
    The Archbishop of Canterbury with the King and Queen in Bembridge C of E Primary School's version of the Coronation

    Eleven-year-old Mason Goldring was very happy to play the part of the Archbishop of Canterbury, asking the new King to swear an oath, anointing him with oil and handing him his orb and sceptre before placing the crown on his head.

    "I liked wearing the outfit and being the Archbishop," he said. "I do acting with a group called Spotlight in Sandown and we perform in Shanklin Theatre, so I like this kind of thing."

    Freddie Derbyshire, 5, who played King Charles III, enjoyed the fact that all the pupils and staff bowed to him during their Coronation service. "The crown makes you feel very important," he said. "And I had to hold the orb and sceptre in one hand."

    And Blossom Packham, 4, also enjoyed being Queen Camilla. "I like the outfit," she said. "I have queen and princess dresses at home. I'd like to be a queen in real life."

    The pupils acting out the Coronation service at the front of the school hall
    Freddie and Blossom as King Charles III and Queen Camilla on their thrones
    Pupils from Bembridge C of E Primary School at their act of collective worship
    Sally Davies with pupils who acted out the Coronation
    Some of those who took part in the special act of collective worship at Bembridge C of E Primary School

    Sally Davies, churchwarden and school governor, said: "I felt it was important that the children knew the symbolism of all the items and the structure of the service, including the presentation, the oath, the anointing, the giving of the gold gifts and the crowning. We used children as the guides, so they could explain what everything meant.

    "Year 5 wrote some beautiful prayers for the King. We had a special song, which encased the National Anthem in it. Our king and queen were five and four, but were absolutely regal in everything they did. And our Archbishop took his role very seriously.

    "The links we have between the church and school mean that the children feel completely comfortable when they come to church - they call it 'our church'. They are there at Christmas, Easter or Harvest, they feel at home there with our church community."

    Headteacher Elizabeth Chambers was delighted that the pupils had performed so well, and full of praise for those who had put it together.

    "It was our school council who said they wanted to know more about the Coronation," she said. "And those pupils especially wanted to know more about the service that will take place in Westminster Abbey. So we worked with Sally to create a shortened version of the service. It helps them to understand the importance of God and the Christian faith as part of this event.

    "Sally and the vicar Steve come in once a week, and the collective worship is a real team effort. I pick a theme or a value for us to focus on each half-term, and we work together to reinforce that. The children love having the team from Holy Trinity Church in, as they've built up a real relationship with them. Some of them know Sally, as she runs the Church Mice group for children at the church.

    "For me, it's a real strength to have different voices communicating the same message - they hear about faith from church, home and in school."


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