An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London, Volume 1, Westminster Abbey. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1924.
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APPENDIX TO INTRODUCTION.
Altars: In Henry VII's chapel are remains of the marble work of the former altar and canopy by Torrigiani. There is a mediaeval altar-slab in St. Michael's chapel and in the chapel of the pyx the altar has a round sinking for a "sigillum."
Bells: The Abbey possesses two mediaeval bells, one in the N. W. tower is of early 14th-century date, and is probably by Richard Wymbish; the other bell, referred to on p. 12, is of flat saucer shape, and was probably the frater bell which hung in the cloister. If so, it is probably the only one now surviving in this country.
Brasses: The earliest brasses are the two of c. 1270–80, with remains of plain crosses in the Confessor's chapel: one is decorated with Cosmatesque mosaic. Three late 14th-century brasses have canopies: the figures are those of Robert Waldeby, Archbishop of York, 1397; John of Waltham, Bishop of Salisbury, 1395; and of Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester, 1399. Later brasses include armed figures of Sir John Harpeden, 1457; Sir Thomas Vaughan, 1483; and Sir Humphrey Stanley, 1505; a fine brass of Abbot John Estney, 1498, in pontificalibus and under a rich canopy; and Dr. William Bill, 1561, the fourth dean.
The only indents of particular interest are those of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, 1397, in the Confessor's chapel; of Edmund Kirton, Abbot, 1466; and of William Dudley, Bishop of Durham, 1483.
Chests: In the muniment room are a number of interesting early chests: two of these date from the end of the 12th, one from the 13th, one from the 14th, and two from the 15th century. There are other early chests in the pyx chapel, the triforium and the undercroft. In the triforium is a quadrant-shaped cope-chest.
Monuments: A recapitulation, in order of date, of what has been said in the Introduction, may be given here with a brief note on later monuments. The much defaced figures of Abbots Gilbert, 1121, and Laurence, 1176, in the cloister are among the earliest effigies in the country. The next in point of date are the Cosmatesque monuments of Edward the Confessor, Henry III, and of the children of Henry and Edward I. Henry's effigy of gilt bronze is also the first of the series of royal effigies in that material which include those of Eleanor of Castile, 1290; Edward III, 1377; Richard II, 1399, and his wife, Anne of Bohemia; Margaret, Countess of Richmond, 1509; and Henry VII, 1509, and his wife, Elizabeth of York. The oak effigy of William de Valence, 1296, is unique in this country in still being covered with copper plates enriched with remains of gilt and Limoges enamel; another oak effigy, that of Henry V, has lost its plating, which appears to have been of silver. To the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century belong the three magnificent memorials of Edmund Crouchback, 1296; Aymer de Valence, 1324; and Aveline of Lancaster, 1273, in the presbytery; these monuments are probably the finest examples of their dates in the country (with the possible exception of the Percy tomb at Beverley) and their value is enhanced by the very considerable remains of the original colour and gesso decoration.
The earliest alabaster effigy and monument is that of John of Eltham, 1337, which has unfortunately lost its canopy: the series is continued by the memorials of William and Blanche, children of Edward III, 1340; of Philippa of Hainault, 1369 (of white marble); Cardinal Simon Langham, 1376; and of Giles, Lord Daubeney, 1507, and his wife.
Fifteenth and early 16th-century monuments include the interesting memorial of Lewis Robessart, Lord Bourchier, 1431, and a series of ecclesiastical monuments to bishops and abbots—William of Colchester, Abbot, 1420; William Dudley, Bishop of Durham, 1483; George Fascet, Abbot, 1500; and Thomas Ruthall, Bishop of Durham, 1523.
The monument of Margaret, Countess of Richmond, 1509, is an Italian work by Pietro Torrigiani, the first Renaissance monument in the Abbey; it was followed by the monument to Henry VII and his queen by the same artist; in both cases the enclosure is English work in the Gothic style. Small remains also exist of the early Renaissance monument of John Islip, Abbot, 1532, in the lower chapel of his chantry.
The post-reformation monuments at the Abbey are as representative as, and far more numerous than, those of the mediaeval period. The majority of these are of the ordinary type and it will only be necessary to particularise a few that for one reason or another are especially remarkable. The series of royal monuments is carried on by the elaborate memorials erected by James I to Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots. The tombs of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, 1628; and Lewis Stuart, Duke of Lennox, 1624, have gilt bronze effigies and enrichments. There are seven or eight examples of the art of the sculptor, Nicholas Stone, of which the finest are the tombs of George Villiers (d. 1605) and of Dudley Carleton, Lord Dorchester, 1632. The tablet to Sir Thomas Richardson, 1635, with a bronze bust, is by Hubert le Sueur. There is also a poor monument in the nave by Grinling Gibbons.
Niches: The finest niche in the Abbey is that over the entrance to the chapel of Our Lady of the Pew. It is of alabaster and the extremely delicate carving of the tabernacle work is practically intact: from the painted inscription and the shape of the niche it probably contained a representation of the martyrdom of St. Erasmus. Other niches that deserve mention are those on the altar-screen, of Henry V's chantry and the series that decorate almost every part of Henry VII's chapel. In the chapel of St. Dunstan are the mutilated remains of a large niche of c. 1500.
Plate: The earlier plate belonging to the church was concealed during the civil war and has not since been recovered. The finest pieces of the existing plate are the late 17th-century flagons, cup, dishes and candlesticks, all with repoussée ornament. The cup and paten of 1571 are recent acquisitions.
Screens: With the exception of the 15th-century screen at the back of the high altar the screen-work is of no great interest: there are stone screens of poor detail to the chapels of St. John the Evangelist, St. Paul, and St. Nicholas, and under the S. W. tower, and an oak screen to the chapel of St. Edmund; the two stone screens in Henry VII's chapel are much damaged.
Tapestries: The tapestries in the Jerusalem Chamber include portions of two large panels from the designs of Bernard van Orley, executed at Brussels by W. Pennemaker about 1540–50; a further portion of the same work hangs in St. Faith's Chapel. The subject of the series is the life of Abraham, and the design and work corresponds with that of the three famous sets by the same maker at Hampton Court, Vienna and Madrid. The two other large panels in the Jerusalem Chamber are of later date (17th-century), and of much inferior merit. In various parts of the Abbey Buildings are preserved four 16th-century panels or parts of panels of the 'vase and arcade' type. These appear to belong to a set of which a number of panels still remain at Holyrood Palace; some of the latter bear the Brussels mark, which may be taken to prove the provenance of the Westminster examples.