Prince William and Church on the Street give their royal seal of approval to Burnley woman's miniature Westminster Coronation Chairs
A remarkable labour of love which started in a Harle Syke workshop in 1953 has seen a Fence woman take up the mantle of creating miniature replicas of the historic Coronation Chair, used to crown the nation’s monarchs for centuries.
When arts and crafts enthusiast Lorraine Tuley (58) stumbled upon one of the replicas at the Burnley Emmaus shop in 2011 her interest in its origin was immediately piqued.
Lorraine soon discovered that the chair – and many others like it – were manufactured by hand in the workshop of Harle Syke man Ronnie Douglas-Lees, to mark the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.
It appears that scores of the chairs were sold through the former GUS chain all around the world, with many ending up in America.
Wanting to resurrect the chairs, Lorraine got in touch with Buckingham Palace who directed her to Westminster Abbey and a new Burnley production line soon began.
Lorraine revealed: “I was fascinated by these tiny chairs first made in Harle Syke that had gone around the world. I’ve always enjoyed making things with my hands and was having some health problems at the time so I thought this would be a nice project for me.
"After speaking to the Abbey, I set about making them. It was just a hobby but I thought it would be nice to get young people involved so I contacted Unity College in Burnley.
"We made some together and then Westminster Abbey’s education department said they would love to have some. I loaned them to the Abbey and then made kits for other people to make which were on sale in the Abbey’s souvenir shop.”
Sadly, Lorraine’s husband Peter developed cancer during this time and died in 2019.
"Evertime I picked up one of the chairs after Peter passed away I was too upset to carry on,” Lorraine revealed, but added that she wanted to make it into a positive and keep it going for him.”
Fast-forward to this year, and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee gave Lorraine the perfect opportunity to resurrect the chairs and help others with their mental health.
She thus got in touch with Church on the Street’s Pastor Mick Fleming, and asked if he would like to offer some of the kits to his vulnerable flock. Lorraine also worked with Pendle View Primary School in Colne.
Lorraine said: “Each chair has its Destiny Stone, which I like to think helps people. I wanted the chairs to help vulnerable people struggling with their mental health and underpinned by the five British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect, and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs.”
After receiving letters from the Queen and Prince Charles when she first the project, Lorraine has now just received a letter from Prince William and Kate, who have themselves visited Burnley’s Church on the Street, giving her their approval of the project.
Lorraine added: “It has been a journey that has inspired me and I hope others too.”
The Coronation Chair was made by order of King Edward I to enclose the famous Stone of Scone, which he brought from Scotland to the Abbey in 1296, where he placed it in the care of the Abbot of Westminster.