This magnificent silk throne canopy, almost certainly the one made for Charles, 2nd Viscount Townshend, in 1709, is the only surviving example of its kind from the reign of Queen Anne.

The original purpose of such canopies was to provide a ceremonial cover over the enthroned monarch during formal royal audiences. Diplomats such as Townshend, Ambassador Extraordinary to the States of Holland, travelled with their canopies and raised them above portraits of the absent monarch, to which dignitaries were expected to bow. This canopy has now been adapted for use above a state bed, but in its original form it consisted of a crimson silk damask cloth of estate, embroidered with the arms of Queen Anne. Above this projected the canopy itself, which supported a damask tester cloth hung with three valances decorated with embroidered badges and trimmings. After Kensington Palace ceased to be a principal royal residence it lost all its throne canopies. Following conservation, this splendid example will now be displayed in the KingÂ’s Presence Chamber, and a throne canopy will once again grace this dazzling period setting.


Supplied by the Great Wardrobe to 2nd Viscount Townshend; Raynham Hall by 1811; by descent to the current owners.

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