The Cosmatesque Mosaics of Westminster Abbey: The Pavements and Royal Tombs: History, Archaeology, Architecture and Conservation [Hardback]

Warwick Rodwell(Author); David S. Neal(Author)

ISBN: 9781789252347 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2019 | Language: English 724p, H12 x W9.5, b/w and color
Status: In Stock - Available

The Cosmatesque Mosaics of Westminster Abbey


Westminster Abbey contains the only surviving medieval Cosmatesque mosaics outside Italy. They comprise: the ‘Great Pavement’ in the sanctuary; the pavement around the shrine of Edward the Confessor; the saint’s tomb and shrine; Henry III’s tomb; the tomb of a royal child, and some other pieces. Surprisingly, the mosaics have never before received detailed recording and analysis, either individually or as an assemblage. The proposed publication, in two volumes, will present a holistic study of this outstanding group of monuments in their historical architectural and archaeological context.

The shrine of St Edward is a remarkable survival, having been dismantled at the Dissolution and re-erected (incorrectly) in 1557 under Queen Mary. Large areas of missing mosaic were replaced with plaster on to which mosaic designs were carefully painted. This 16th-century fictive mosaic is unique in Britain. Conservation of the sanctuary pavement was accompanied by full archaeological recording with every piece of mosaic decoration drawn and colored by David Neal, phase plans have been prepared, and stone-by-stone examination undertaken, petrologically identifying and recording the locations of all the materials present. It has revealed that both the pavements and tombs include a range of exotic stone types. The Cosmati study has shed fresh light on every aspect of the unique series of monuments in Westminster Abbey; this work will fill a major lacuna in our knowledge of 13th-century English art of the first rank, and will command international interest.

Table of Contents

The Pavements
List of figures
by The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster

1. The cosmatesque pavements and monuments: introduction and context

Historical and architectural context
The mosaic assemblage

2. Historiography and the antiquarian record
Early references, 1269–
c. 1700
Descriptions and illustrations of the pavements and monuments, 1707–1925
The pavements and monuments in recent scholarship

3. The sanctuary and high altar pavements: past interventions, damage and repair
Paving the sanctuary: an historical overview
The cosmatesque sanctuary pavement
Installation of the Whitehall altarpiece, 1706–07
Sir George Gilbert Scott’s restoration of the sanctuary, 1859–71

4. Description of the sanctuary pavement
Purbeck marble matrix
Detailed description of the decoration
The frame inscriptions
Early repairs to the Cosmati pavement
by Paul Drury
Phasing: construction, alteration and repair

5. Surveying, analyzing and evaluating the sanctuary and high altar pavements
Preparatory studies
Condition and conservation trials, 1993–98
by Vanessa Simeoni
Ground-penetrating radar surveys, 2004-05
by Erica Carrick Utsi
The archaeology beneath the pavements: an assessment

6. Conservation and repair of the sanctuary pavement by Vanessa Simeoni
Recording and the sanctuary pavement archive
Materials in the pavement
Laser cleaning
Removal of cement patching
Purbeck marble: deterioration and treatment
Stone tesserae: damage and treatment
Glass tesserae
Restoration of the western border panel
Case study: the central medallion
Surface finish
Conclusions and post-conservation care

7. St Edward the Confessor’s chapel pavement
Past interventions and damage
The Purbeck marble matrix
Detailed description of the pavement
Ground-penetrating radar surveys of the high altar and St Edward’s chapel pavements, 2005
by Erica Carrick Utsi
The archaeology beneath the chapel floor

8. Materials employed in the pavements and monuments
Antiquarian petrology
The stone types
by Kevin Hayward
Glass: analysis of samples from the sanctuary pavement
by Ian Freestone
Metals employed in the pavements and monuments
Analysis of ‘mastic’ resin on the sanctuary pavement
by Ruth Siddall
Analysis of the paste-inlaid tesserae
by Ruth Siddall
Mortars used in the sanctuary pavement by Ruth Siddall

Notes to chapters 1 to 8
Plans 1 and 2 (fold-outs at end of volume)


The Monuments

9. St Edward’s chapel and the context of the shrine
Chronology of St Edward’s enshrinement
Evolving topography of St Edward’s chapel
Monuments in the chapel: post-medieval interventions and antiquarian investigations
Impact of pilgrims and tourists on the chapel and its monuments

10. The shrine-tomb of St Edward the Confessor, I: description and primary fabric
General description of the shrine-tomb
Detailed descriptions of the components
Reconstructing the original form of the shrine-tomb
Method of construction and assembly
The primary inscription: an assessment

11. The shrine-tomb of St Edward the Confessor, II: Tudor reconstruction and overall assessment
The feretory canopy (co-operculum)
Shrine of St Edward: historical context of its Tudor reconstruction
Abbot Feckenham’s reconstruction of the shrine pedestal and altar, 1557
Accident and intervention, 1685-86
St Edward’s coffins
Concluding assessment

12. Tomb of King Henry III
Introduction and antiquarian descriptions
Architectural form of the tomb
Detailed description of the mosaic decoration
Later interventions

13. Child’s tomb in the south ambulatory
Identity of the tomb and its occupants
Date and primary location of the tomb
Relocation of the tomb in the south ambulatory
The tomb-chest
Detailed description of the decoration

14. Related monuments
St Edward’s shrine altar
Detached architectural fragments
The high altar and the Westminster Retable
The de Valence tombs
Inscription fragment in the floor of St Edward’s chapel

15. The Westminster mosaic assemblage: summary, assessment and dating
Luxury paving and mosaic decoration: Westminster in context
The sanctuary and its pavements
St Edward the Confessor’s chapel and its pavement
St Edward’s shrine-tomb and altar
Henry III and his shrine-tomb
Other tombs
Chronology of the Westminster Cosmati episode

1. The shrine of Edward the Confessor in the records
by Matthew Payne
Archival references
2. Quantification of tesserae in the mosaic pavements and monuments

Notes to chapters 9 to 16
Plan 3 (fold-out at end of volume)
Abbreviations and bibliography

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