Surveyors of the Fabric of Westminster Abbey, 1906-1973: Reports and Letters [Hardback]

Christine Reynolds(Editor); Ptolemy Dean(Editor); Ptolemy Dean(Introduction)

ISBN: 9781783274208 | Published by: Boydell Press | Series: Westminster Abbey Record Series | Volume: 9 | Year of Publication: 2019 | 415p, H9.25 x W6.25, 1 b/w.
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Surveyors of the Fabric of Westminster Abbey, 1906-1973


The annual reports of the Surveyors of the Fabric in the twentieth century give much detailed information about the maintenance and major restoration of Westminster Abbey and its contents. The Surveyors, William Lethaby, Walter Tapper, Charles Peers and Stephen Dykes Bower, had to deal with many problems and challenges between 1906 and 1973. Not least of these were two World Wars and the most extensive programme of cleaning and re-decoration since the timeof Sir Christopher Wren. Lethaby brought to light original decoration on medieval tombs, lost to sight for centuries under grime and shellac used by his predecessor Gilbert Scott; Tapper had to carry out emergency restoration tothe fan vault of Henry VII's chapel after a stone crashed to the floor; Peers was required to deal with the evacuation of hundreds of treasures during the 1939-45 war and with repairs to bomb damaged areas after it. Dykes Bower, meanwhile, was the most controversial of the Surveyors of this period. His replacement of medieval roof timbers drew criticism, although these were riddled with decay and death watch beetle. The nave could have looked vastly different if his design for a Cosmati work floor had gone ahead. But the Abbey interior would not look as it does today without his massive contribution to the cleaning of the brown stonework and re-decoration of the dirty and damaged Tudor and Jacobean monuments.
The Abbey's current Surveyor, Ptolemy Dean, outlines the legacies of the work of these Surveyors of the modern age in his introduction; Christine Reynolds, the Abbey's Assistant Keeper of the Muniments, adds valuable notes from other sources within the archives to supplement the fascinating accounts of work carried out in the most historically significant church in England.

Table of Contents

William Richard Lethaby
Sir Walter Tapper
Sir Charles Peers
Stephen Dykes Bower

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