Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Monday, 11 August 2014

Westminster Abbey. (Part Five).

Text and Illustrations from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

Westminster Abbey,
with a procession of Knights of the Bath.
Artist: Canaletto,
Date: 1749.
Source: English Wikipedia.
Original Upload 9 May 2005
(Wikimedia Commons)

Inner and Outer Vestibules lead to the Octagonal Chapter House, which is of exceptional architectural purity. It is built in a Geometrical Gothic Style, with an Octagonal Crypt, below. A Pier of eight Shafts carries the Vaulted Ceiling. To the sides, are Blind Arcading, remains of 14th-Century paintings and numerous stone benches, above which are innovatory large Four-Light Quatre-Foiled Windows. These are virtually contemporary with Sainte-Chapelle, Paris.

The Chapter House has an original Mid-13th-Century tiled Pavement. A door within the Vestibule dates from around 1050 and is believed to be the oldest in England. The exterior includes Flying Buttresses, added in the 14th-Century, and a Leaded Tent-Lantern Roof, on an iron frame, designed by Scott. The Chapter House was originally used in the 13th-Century by Benedictine Monks for daily meetings. It later became a meeting place of the King's Great Council and the Commons, predecessors of Parliament.

The Pyx Chamber formed the Undercroft of the Monks' Dormitory. It dates to the Late-11th-Century and was used as a Monastic and Royal Treasury. The outer walls and Circular Piers are 11th-Century, several of the Capitals were enriched in the 12th-Century and the stone Altar added in the 13th-Century. The term "Pyx" refers to the Boxwood Chest, in which coins were held, and presented to a Jury during the Trial of the Pyx, in which newly-minted coins were presented to ensure they conformed to the required standards.

The Flag of Westminster Abbey,
featuring the Tudor Arms, between Tudor Roses,
Date: 16 February 2009.
Source: Own work.
Author: Oren neu dag.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Chapter House and Pyx Chamber, at Westminster Abbey, are in the guardianship of English Heritage, but under the care and management of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. English Heritage have funded a major programme of work on the Chapter House, comprising repairs to the roof, gutters, stonework on the elevations and Flying Buttresses, as well as repairs to the Lead Lights.

The Westminster Abbey Museum is located in the 11th-century Vaulted Undercroft, beneath the former Monks' Dormitory in Westminster Abbey. This is one of the oldest areas of the Abbey, dating back almost to the Foundation of the Norman Church by Edward the Confessor in 1065. This space has been used as a Museum since 1908.

The exhibits include a collection of Royal and other Funeral Effigies (Funeral Saddle, Helm and Shield of King Henry V), together with other treasures, including some panels of Mediaeval Glass, 12th-Century sculpture fragments, Queen Mary II's Coronation Chair and replicas of the Coronation Regalia, and historic effigies of King Edward III, Henry VII and his Queen, Elizabeth of York, Charles II, William III, Mary II and Queen Anne.

English: The Cloister and Garth of Westminster Abbey, London, England.
Français: Le cloître de l'Abbaye de Westminster, Londres, Angleterre.
Español: El claustro de la Abadía de Westminster, Londres.
Photo: 28 August 2007.
Source: Own work.
Author: Bernard Gagnon.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Later wax effigies include a likeness of Horatio, Viscount Nelson, wearing some of his own clothes and another of Prime Minister William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, modelled by the American-born sculptor, Patience Wright. During recent conservation of Elizabeth I's effigy, a unique corset, dating from 1603, was found on the figure and is now displayed separately.

A recent addition to the exhibition is the Late-13th-Century Westminster Retable, England's oldest Altarpiece, which was most probably designed for the High Altar of the Abbey. Although it has been damaged in past Centuries, the Altar Panel has been expertly cleaned and conserved.

Westminster Abbey.
Date: 1810.
Author: Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827) and Augustus Charles Pugin (1762–1832) (after) John Bluck (fl. 1791–1819), Joseph Constantine Stadler (fl. 1780–1812), Thomas Sutherland (1785–1838), J. Hill, and Harraden (aquatint engravers)[1]
(Wikimedia Commons)

In June 2009, the first major building work at the Abbey for 250 years was proposed. A Corona — a Crown-like architectural feature — was intended to be built around the Lantern, over the Central Crossing, replacing an existing pyramidal structure dating from the 1950s. This was part of a wider £23m development of the Abbey, expected to be completed in 2013.

On 4 August 2010, the Dean and Chapter announced that, "after a considerable amount of preliminary and exploratory work", efforts toward the construction of a Corona would not be continued. In 2012, architects Panter Hudspith completed refurbishment of the 14th-Century food store, originally used by the Abbey's Monks, converting it into a Restaurant, with English Oak furniture by Covent Garden-based furniture makers Luke Hughes and Company.


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