This list entry was subject to a Minor Enhancement on 04/06/2018
TQ 3079 NW and SW
92/57 and 101/1
CITY OF WESTMINSTER
Dean's Yard, No 20
Westminster Abbey (The Collegiate Church of St Peter)
(Formerly listed under BROAD SANCTUARY SW1, previously listed under General)
Abbey church. Edward the Confessor's church of c.1050-65, rebuilding begun by Henry III, 1245; the chancel, transepts and five bays of nave completed by 1269; new nave and west front 1375-1400 by Henry Yevele master mason, completed 1506, excluding the upper part of the west towers; Henry VII Chapel begun as new Lady Chapel 1503, completed as Chantry chapel c.1512, probably by Robert and William Virtue; the west towers 1735-40 by Hawksmoor; major C18 and C19 restorations by Wren, Henry Keene, James Wyatt, Benjamin Wyatt, Blore, Sir George Gilbert Scott and J. C. Pearson, as Surveyors to the Fabric; "anti-scrape" preservation introduced by Micklethwaite and Lethaby.
MATERIALS: Reigate stone with Huddlestone stone for Henry VII's Chapel.
EXTERIOR: Geometrical gothic, exceptionally French in plan with aisled, eleven-bay nave, transepts and chancel with ambulatory and radiating chapels, and French in the height of the vault with its two tiers of flying buttresses. Specifically English in the distinguishing feature of a full gallery instead of a triforium and in the way in which Yevele's nave respectfully continues the style of the Henry III work. Yevele's Perpendicular appears on the west front and porch, very similar to his Westminster Hall design. Henry VII's Chapel has boldly modelled Late Perpendicular detailing. The west towers have Hawksmoor's individual blending of Gothic verticality with Baroque details.
INTERIOR: Purbeck marble piers and shafting; quadripartite vaulting with ridge rib and bosses; transverse and tierceron ribs introduced in nave, with Perpendicular details to the bosses in Yevele's work. Stained glass: a few reset C13 fragments, otherwise C15/C16; C18, C19 and C20; cosmati pavements in feretory and Presbytery, etc. Exceptional furnishing and unique collection of monuments and sculpture, etc. The Abbey is the English St Denis and Reims in one, a unique embodiment of church, state and crown, and national mausoleum.
Historical note: Westminster Abbey was the scene of a number of protests by suffragettes from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the militant organisation founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903. Suffragettes used direct action in their campaign for the vote, including acts of criminal damage. In June 1914 suffragettes placed a bomb under the coronation chair in St. Edward the Confessor’s Chapel, damaging the chair.
Suffragettes also carried out ‘Prayers for Prisoners’ protests in the Abbey during the campaign for women’s suffrage. These events, which took place in churches throughout the country, were similar to the WSPU’s earliest form of direct action, in that they were disruptive, rather than militant, forms of protest. Women would attend services in groups and quietly interrupt by chanting ‘God Save Mrs Pankhurst’ and praying for other suffragette prisoners. Services at the Abbey were interrupted several times in 1913 and 1914, and in one of the last militant protests a woman chained herself to her chair when the Archbishop of Canterbury was preaching. Both she and the chair were carried out by vergers.
This list entry was amended in 2018 as part of the centenary commemorations of the 1918 Representation of the People Act
Listing NGR: TQ3008379495