The present Volume deals with Westminster Abbey alone and thus differs
from the previous volumes of the Commission's Inventories. The pre-eminent
position of the Abbey as an imperial and national monument is sufficient
to justify exceptional treatment so far as the description of the structure and its
contents is concerned. It is also the excuse, if indeed such be required, for the large
increase in the number of illustrations in proportion to the text. These factors
have led us to alter the arrangement of matter, and require a few words of explanation.
In addition to the Terms of Appointment and a short official Report, the volume
contains a historical introduction by the Provost of Eton, which combines, and to
a certain extent replaces, the usual Sectional Preface. This is followed by an
illustrated Inventory of the Abbey and its contents, arranged in groups according
to position, together with illustrations of selected mouldings and of comparative
groups of monuments, an armorial of mediaeval heraldry, a list of the monuments
in the Abbey from 1714 to the present day and a glossary of architectural,
heraldic, and archaeological terms.
The Commission owes a special debt of gratitude to Dr. M. R. James for his survey
of the Abbey buildings as unfolded in the Introduction. I have particular pleasure
in commending it as a contribution of unusual value and enlightenment to readers
of the necessarily concentrated descriptions which form the substance of the actual
Inventory, relieved though they are by an unusual wealth of illustrations.
The illustrations themselves are derived from photographs taken expressly for
the Commission and reproduced by His Majesty's Stationery Office, whose work, I
think, deserves special recognition, as does the work of Mr. J. W. Bloe, one of the
Commission's Senior Investigators, who has been principally responsible for the actual
photography and the selection of subjects. They have been chosen both for their
educational and for their aesthetic value.
The standardization of the spelling of proper names in the Commission's
inventories has always presented considerable difficulties, and almost any system is
open to criticism. It is well known that during the period covered by our terms of
reference, and indeed to a much later date, the art of spelling was in a very fluid
state, proper names especially being subject to a wide variation, dictated partly
by their phonetic values and partly by individual caprice. Instances in the Abbey
are the spellings of Ben Jonson ("Johnson") and Michael Drayton ("Draiton").
In the matter of personal names, and in treating individual funeral-monuments,
etc., the actual spelling of the memorial has been reproduced, while in the rest of the
text the normal spelling of the name has been adopted.
It may also be well again to draw attention to the fact that our Record Cards
may be consulted by properly accredited persons who give notice of their intention
to our Secretary, at 66, Victoria Street, Westminster, S.W.1. The cards contain
drawings of tracery and mouldings as well as plans and sketches of the monuments—
forming in truth the complete National Inventory—and they will ultimately be
deposited for reference in the Public Records Office.
In a work of such intricate detail there must be mistakes. But I hope these
are neither numerous nor serious. My fellow Commissioner, Mr. Peers, has revised
in situ, in company with Mr. Clapham, the description of the structure and of the
monuments. As recorded in our Report, a special committee has supervised the
order and method of descriptions adopted in the Inventory. Further, the heraldry
has been checked by the Reverend E. E. Dorling, F.S.A.; the descriptions of armour
by Mr. J. Murray Kendall, F.S.A. (Assistant to the Secretary of the Imperial War
Museum); the descriptions of glass by Dr. M. R. James, F.S.A.; the descriptions of
brasses by Mr. Mill Stephenson, F.S.A.; the spelling of names and descriptions of
costumes by Mr. O. Barron, F.S.A. Nevertheless, I shall welcome any corrections
and criticisms that may be sent to me with a view to their possible inclusion in
some future edition.
It is much to be regretted that owing to the financial exigencies of the time,
our staff has not yet been restored to its pre-war strength. The success that has
already attended the publication of the Commission's Inventories, and their value
in securing the preservation of monuments of historical interest that otherwise
might have been destroyed, leads me to hope that the reduction of the work of
investigation will be only temporary.
CRAWFORD AND BALCARRES.
25th July, 1924.