George IV became King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover following the death of his father, George III, on 29 January 1820. George IV’s coronation occurred about a year and half later on 19 July 1821. It was a grand costly affair, estimated to have been about £243,000 (approximately £19,970,000 in 2017). One great expense was the innovative gold and silver frame crown that had been specifically created for the King by Philip Liebart of Rundell, Bridge, and Rundell. It was a tall crown with a dark blue cap and encrusted with 12,314 diamonds that were said to make the King appear to be a “gorgeous bird of the east.” Yet, the crown was not the only costly thing George IV wore:
“Precisely at ten o’clock the King entered the Hall from the door behind the Throne, habited in [weighty] robes of enormous size and richness, wearing a black hat with a monstrous plume of ostrich feathers, out of the midst of which rose a black heron’s plume. … The train was of enormous length and breadth. It was of crimson velvet adorned with large golden stars, and a broad gold border.”
After the procession to Westminster Hall and the coronation, another grand expense occurred. This was the dinner served to those who had participated at the coronation. Guests dined on a spectacular fare of hot and cold dishes, luscious desserts, and expensive wines. After they finished, visitors watching in the galleries were allowed to finish the feast.
Here is the list of what the diners enjoyed (almost verbatim):
Bill of Fare
Hot Dishes — 160 tureens of soup; 80 of turtle; 40 of rice; and 40 vermicelli. 160 dishes of fish, comprising 80 of turbot; 40 of trout, 40 of salmon; 160 hot joints, including 80 of venison; 40 of roast beef, with three barons; 40 of mutton and veal. 160 dishes of vegetables, including potatoes, peas, and cauliflower. 480 sauce boats; 240 of lobsters; 120 butter, 120 mint.
Cold Dishes — 80 dishes of braised ham; 80 savory pies; 80 dishes of daubed geese, two in each; 80 dishes of savory cakes; 80 pieces of beef braised; 80 dishes of capons braised, two in each; 1,190 side dishes of various sorts; 320 dishes of mounted pastry; 320 dishes of small pastry; 400 dishes of jellies and cream; 160 dishes of shell-fish; 80 of lobster, and 80 of crayfish; 161 dishes of cold roast fowls; 80 dishes of cold house-lamb.
Total quantities — 7,442 lbs. of beef; 7,133 lbs. of veal; 2,474 lbs. of mutton; 20 quarters of house-lamb; 20 legs of house-lamb; 5 saddles of lamb; 55 quarters of grass-lamb; 160 lambs’ sweetbreads; 389 cow-heels; 400 calves’ feet; 250 lbs. of suet; 160 geese; 720 pullets and capons; 1,1610 chickens; 520 fowls for stock (hens); 1,730 lbs. of bacon; 550 lbs. of lard; 912 lbs. of butter; 84 hundred of eggs.
All these are independent of the eggs, butter, flour, and necessary articles in the pastry and confectionery departments, — such as sugar, isinglass, fruits, &c.
The quantities ordered for the banquet were, — Champagne, 100 dozen; Burgundy, 20 dozen; Claret, upwards of 200 dozen; Hock, 50 dozen; Moselle, 50 dozen; Madeira, 50 dozen; Sherry and Port, about 350 dozen: Ice Punch, 100 gallons. The Champagne, Hock, and Moselle, were iced before they went to table; and the whole of the wines were spoken of as being excellent by the thousands who had an opportunity of tasting them.
Of ale, 100 barrels were ordered for the use of the kitchen. The porcelain consisted of 6,791 dinner plates, 1,406 soup plates, 1,499 dessert plates, and 288 large ale and beer pitches. There were 240 yards of elegant damask table-cloths for the hall, and less than 1000 yards more laid on the tables in the different suits of rooms. Among the cutlery were furnished 16,909 knives and forks, and 612 pairs of carvers.
- MacLean, Douglas, The Great Solemnity of the Coronation of the King and Queen of England, 1902
- The Mirror of Literature Amusement and Instruction, 1824
- Tessa Rose, The Coronation Ceremony of the Kings and Queens of England and the Crown Jewels, 1992.
- UK Consumer Price Index inflation figures based on data from Gregory Clark, “The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)” at MeasuringWorth.com.