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How to make a coronation time capsule

BY Kate Beeden

20th Apr 2023 Life

How to make a coronation time capsule

Why King Charles III’s coronation is an opportunity to create a time capsule 

For most people, May 6 will be their first opportunity to witness the coronation of a British monarch. The ceremony, full of the pomp befitting a royal occasion, is a landmark moment for the UK and the world.  

Celebrations such as street parties are a wonderful way to mark the event but, for a longer lasting commemoration, the coronation provides the perfect opportunity to create a time capsule to give future generations a taste of British life in 2023. 

What is a time capsule?

While time capsules are classically buried, you can opt to store yours in your loft or basement

A time capsule is a way of preserving objects or information to be found in the future. Although they can be created at any time, they are often associated with memorable occasions and events.  

Many time capsules are buried and marked with a plaque stating when the capsule is to be opened. If you opt for this method, ensure the storage container is robust and suitable for purpose—stainless steel is one of the best materials for burying underground. 

"An alternative to burying a time capsule is storing a sealed container within your home, such as in a loft or cellar"

An alternative to burying a time capsule is storing a sealed container within your home, such as in a loft or cellar. You will still need to choose an appropriate storage method, particularly if your home is susceptible to damp or floods. It may also be a source of temptation if it’s too easily accessible, so consider where it’s placed. 

The history of time capsules

Time capsules have been used since before the 1700s

Although the term “time capsule” itself is less than 100 years old, the practice of storing artifacts to be found in the future dates back to at least the 1700s.  

Early examples have been found at Faneuil Hall in Boston in the US, and Burgos in Spain. Their popularity increased during the 20th century. 

An individual project or a team effort?

Time capsules can be made as a family or group, or simply as an individual project

The beauty of a time capsule is there are no rules.  

Often groups such as guides and scouts are involved in creating time capsules, as well as schools, churches and organisations for adults, such as Women’s Institute groups. Working together gives greater scope for diversity, as each person can bring their own skills and views to the project.

"You could create a box of memories that relate specifically to your family, leaving an heirloom item your children and grandchildren"

You could create a box of memories that relate specifically to your family, leaving an heirloom item your children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy in the future. 

Time capsules can also be individual projects. This has the advantage of giving a real insight into the life of one person at a specific point in history

What can I put in my time capsule?

Consider how technology might age in your capsule- memory sticks might well be defunct by the time your capsule is opened

Anything you like! This is a chance to get creative. However, there are several points to consider when making a time capsule.  

Firstly, decide how much you want to spend. You will be able to create a snapshot of this special moment in time whatever your budget—some of the best objects in a time capsule are free or low-cost. 

Next, consider how to futureproof your time capsule. Examples of technology can be great to look back on but people in the future might not be able to access the information they hold.

"Drinks such as spirits that have a high alcohol content or wines that age well are a fun addition"

Think back to the 1990s—everyone saved their work on floppy discs. Since then, memory sticks, memory cards and external hard drives have all been popular alternatives and are already becoming obsolete with the growth of cloud storage. Technology moves quickly!  

Consumables such as food don’t store well so consider including recipes or packaging rather than actual food items. Drinks such as spirits that have a high alcohol content or wines that age well are a fun addition. 

What should I put in a coronation time capsule?

Stamps or coins bearing the former and future monarchs make excellent additions for a coronation capsule

For a time capsule with strong links to the coronation, include objects relating to the monarchy as well as the current year. This could include stamps or coins bearing the image of Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III to show the past and current monarch.  

Perhaps send a letter of congratulations to the new King via Buckingham Palace and add a copy of your letter and any reply you get to your time capsule. You could also save decorations such as cake toppers or bunting from your parties. 

Other popular coronation-related items to include are newspapers and photographs. Local and national news articles relating to street parties, celebrations, and the coronation itself will be of interest in years to come, as will pictures of yourself and your family on coronation day.  

Perhaps keep a diary of the build-up to the event and include that as a more personal addition. Be aware some papers have a high acidity level which can deteriorate and damage other items in your capsule. Place all paper in individually sealed polythene bags to protect them. 

Last thing to remember! 

Creating a time capsule is a fantastic gift. Enjoy the process of making something that will be marvelled over in years to come—just don’t forget to keep a record of where your time capsule is and when it’s to be opened! 

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