The golden Speaker’s State Coach on public view at the National Trust property from Saturday

THE fabulous golden Speaker’s State Coach last used at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana will be on display at Arlington Court near Barnstaple from Saturday.

The gilded coach has been loaned to the National Trust property’s Carriage Museum for the first in a series of public exhibitions around the country.

The ornately carved coach is a symbol of the power and status of the Speaker of the House of Commons and has been in use for state occasions since the early 18th century.

Last used by Speaker Thomas in 1981, the coach was then displayed at various venues in London before being removed for conservation work that has restored its original vibrant colours and revealed its intricate carvings for the first time in many years.

Successive layers of gilding over three centuries had helped obscure but also protect much of the vehicle’s elaborate decoration and conservators removed 14 coats during the restoration process.

John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, said the magnificent coach was an important piece of the country’s heritage and delighted it could now be passed into the care of the National Trust to be viewed by as wide an audience as possible.

“The carriage museum at Arlington Court, with its extensive collection, was an obvious place for the coach and we hope it will be the first of a series of appropriate exhibition venues around the country where the coach might be seen and enjoyed by the public,” he said.

Arlington Property Manager Ana Chylak added: “Our historic carriages at Arlington range from those used every day to ones reserved for special occasions, so we are thrilled to be able to display the Speaker’s State Coach, which is very special indeed.

“In its restored condition, its detail and decoration are absolutely breath-taking.

Staff at Arlington have spent several days carefully unwrapping and preparing the coach for public view from this Saturday. For opening times and more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk or call (01271) 850296.