Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has inspected a gilded state carriage used by his predecessors ahead of the reopening of the museum where it is housed.
The Speaker’s State Coach, which is one of the only surviving examples of its kind from the 17th century, was loaned by the House of Commons to the National Trust in 2011.
It is on display at the Trust’s Carriage Museum at Arlington Court, near Barnstaple in Devon, which reopens on Monday.
The coach has high quality carved woodwork and metalwork, painting and small plaques bearing the coats of arms of various speakers, and is thought to have been made in about 1698 for William III and was presented to the Speaker a few years later by Queen Anne.
It was last used by the speaker George Thomas in 1981 for the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, and was then displayed at various venues in London before conservation work on the carriage began.
Sir Lindsay viewed the coach on a visit to Arlington’s gardens and Carriage Museum while on holiday in the South West.
He said: “The Speaker State Coach is an extraordinary example of its kind, having witnessed around 300 years of history, and which is now being cared for by the National Trust in Devon.
“It is thought to have been made for King William II in 1698 and presented to the speaker by Queen Anne a few years later. It was most recently used at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, with many great state occasions in between.
“The craftsmanship and the conservation are second to none. The conservation included removing over 60 layers of varnish and gilding added over centuries which was all but obliterating the detail of the fine carving.
“The paintings include recording King William and Queen Mary being presented with scrolls inscribed with Magna Carta and Bill of Rights.”