Westminster Abbey Chapter House: The History, Art and Architecture of 'A Chapter House Beyond Compare' [Hardback]

Warwick Rodwell (Editor); Richard Mortimer (Author)

Regular Price: £49.95

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ISBN: 9780854312955 | Published by: Society of Antiquaries of London | Year of Publication: 2010 | Language: English 305p, 255 illus (155 in colour)

Westminster Abbey Chapter House


This volume tells the complete story of the Westminster Abbey chapter house, which ranks as one of the spectacular achievements of European Gothic art and architecture; and that is precisely what its builder, King Henry III, intended. Begun in the mid-1240s, and completed within a decade, its pre-eminence was recognized in its own day, when the chronicler Matthew Paris described Westminster as having 'a chapter house beyond compare'.

Papers by leading scholars in the field of medieval art and architecture reveal the reasons for the construction of the chapter house and trace the possible influences upon the master mason in charge of the project. The subsequent history of the structure is revealed as it evolved from a meeting place of the king's Great Court, the predecessor of the English Parliament, and as a royal treasury into a repository for government archives after the Dissolution, home to the Public Record Office until the late 1850s, and its subsequent restoration at the hands of Sir George Gilbert Scott.

Now under the care of English Heritage, the chapter house has just been cleaned and restored again, leading to the spectacular light-filled building that we see today, to which full justice is done by this richly illustrated book, filled with pictures of the architectural and sculptural details, the medieval tilework and the wall painting that justify the motto inscribed in the chapter house floor: 'as the rose is the flower of flowers, so is this the house of houses'.

Table of Contents

1. The chapter house complex: morphology and construction (Warwick Rodwell, FSA)
2. King Henry III and the chapter house of Westminster Abbey (David Carpenter)
3. The chapter house of Westminster Abbey: harbinger of a new dispensation in English architecture? (Christopher Wilson, FSA)
4. Westminster and other two-storied chapter houses and treasuries (Warwick Rodwell, FSA)
5. The fabric of the Westminster chapter house: filling in the gaps from Salisbury (Tim Tatton-Brown)
6. The monks of Westminster and their chapter house (Barbara Harvey, FSA)
7. The royal wardrobe and the chapter house of Westminster Abbey (Jeremy Ashbee, FSA)
8. The chapter house as a record office (Elizabeth Hallam Smith, FSA)
9. Sir George Gilbert Scott and the restoration of the chapter house, 1849–72 (Steven Brindle, FSA)
10. The sculptural decoration of the Westminster chapter house portals (Richard Foster, FSA, and Pamela Tudor-Craig, FSA)
11. Wall paintings in the chapter house (Paul Binski, FSA, and Helen Howard)
12. The chapter house decorated tile pavement (Laurence Keen, FSA)
13. The chapter house glazing (Warwick Rodwell, FSA)
14. The chapter house doors and their dating (Daniel Miles, FSA and Martin Bridge, FSA)

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