Readers of this little volume must not expect to find in it a full description of the Abbey buildings, or a complete list of all the tombs, monuments, and other beautiful and interesting things in the Abbey Church. That is not the aim of this book. Its chief object is to point out to British children how they may follow the great outlines of their country’s history in Westminster Abbey, from the earliest ages down to our own time,—from the days of the far-off, legendary King Lucius to those of King Edward VII.
The words, “citizen of no mean city,” ought surely to come into our minds as we look round the Abbey and see there, as we clearly can see, a kind of outward expression of all that is best in our national character. The Abbey speaks to us of the deep religious viiifeeling behind our shyness and reserve; of patriotism, and of self-sacrifice for our country; of love and respect for every form of good and noble service; of the wise moderation in our forms of government; of our wide sympathy with men of every race and creed.
It is thus that Westminster Abbey can truly claim to be our great National Church.
THE FOUNDATION AND BUILDING OF THE ABBEY
“It is finished!
The Kingliest Abbey in all Christian lands,
The lordliest, loftiest minster ever built
To Holy Peter in our English Isle!
Let me be buried there, and all our Kings,
And all our just and wise and holy men
That shall be born hereafter. It is finished!”
The writer of this little book was once showing Westminster Abbey to a party of foreigners—they were Germans,—and after hearing something about the Abbey and the people who are either buried or commemorated there, one of them turned and said: “I can understand the pride of English people when I see a place like this.”
Now, it must be remembered that this 2German visitor was not thinking of our wealth, or of our Empire, or of our commercial prosperity. He was thinking of the “great cloud of witnesses,” the people of our race who have gone before us, and who are gathered together, resting and remembered in our chief national church. He was thinking, too, of the wide and catholic spirit which would shut out no one who had done good service to God and man.
If one who was not our own countryman could feel this so strongly, is it any wonder that the name of Westminster Abbey is dear to all British folk, men, women, and children, whether at home or across the wide seas? Westminster Abbey is a name that means “home,” and the story of home, almost from the very earliest times of our nation.
And if any one asks how and why this is, it is easy to show him that Westminster Abbey has been part of English history all along, and that if you can read what is written on the old grey stones of Westminster you will know more about the 3British race and Empire than many books could teach you.
Around the venerable and stately church, where all our Kings, from Edward the Confessor onwards, have been crowned, and where many of our sovereigns and most of our famous men are buried, are memories which speak to us even of the Roman rule in Britain, taking us back nearly to the days of brave Queen Boadicea, whose statue stands on the bridge close by.
Then follow memories of the wild Saxon days, of the conversion of England by St. Augustine, of the Danes, the Normans, the Plantagenets, Tudors, Stuarts, and of many others.
We are reminded too, of the signing of Magna Charta, of the Barons’ War, of the Crusades, of the beginning of the House of Commons, of the long Hundred Years’ War with France, of the Wars of the Roses, of the great Civil War, of the rise of our Indian and Colonial Empire, and indeed of all the important things that have happened in our 4country until this very twentieth century, when the Abbey is still just as much a part of our history as it ever was.
If we want to see and understand how this is, we can learn a good deal from the history of the building itself, that is, of how, when, and where it was built.
To begin with, what do we mean when we speak of the “Abbey”?
An abbey was really a place where a number of monks or nuns lived, under the rule of an abbot or abbess,—the name abbot being taken from “abbas,” the Syriac word for father. The actual church was only a part of the “Abbey,” to which belonged many other buildings, besides gardens, orchards, fields and farms, and often large estates in various places.
The Abbey of Westminster was for monks of the Benedictine Order. The Abbot of Westminster was a very great person, and many well known places belonged to the Abbey, such, for instance, as Covent Garden (the Convent Garden) and Hyde Park, 5besides others which were far away from London. Windsor at one time belonged to the Abbey of Westminster, but the Conqueror wanted it himself, and so made the monks exchange Windsor for land in other places.
The Church, then, which we now call the Abbey, was the Abbey Church of St. Peter in Westminster. Since the days of Queen Elizabeth, the proper title of the church has been “The Collegiate Church of St. Peter in Westminster,” but every one likes to keep the old name, and to call it Westminster Abbey. As we shall see later on, a good deal still remains of the old monastic buildings besides the church. Such are the beautiful cloisters, the Chapter-House, and parts of the library and dormitory.
Now, as to where the Abbey is built. It stands on what was long ago a desolate little island in the Thames, an island which was overgrown with great thorns and thickets, and in which wild beasts, such as the wild ox and the huge red deer, used to roam about. It was perhaps not unlike the 6Isle of Athelney, where King Alfred hid from his enemies and made his plans.
It is interesting to remember that the great Cathedral Church of Paris, Notre Dame, is also built on an island,—a little island in the river Seine. In those days, when there were so few roads, it was a great matter to be near a big river, where boats and ships could go up and down, and so we find that most important cities, like Rome, Paris, Vienna, and London, are built on the banks of rivers.
The island on which the Abbey stands was called “Thorney Isle” in those old days, and it is described in a charter of King Offa as “the terrible place,” probably because of its wild forests and fierce beasts. The little streams which once separated Thorney Isle from the mainland still run underground, but in those early days the island was also surrounded by a great marsh, which stretched out to Chelsea on the north bank of the Thames, and to Lambeth and Battersea on the south bank.
7The early stories of the foundation and building of the church on Thorney Isle have been handed down from far-off times, and although they cannot all be proved to be quite true, we may be sure that there is a great deal of truth deep down in them, as there is in most of the tales that people have loved and told to their children through all the ages.
To begin with the oldest story of all. We are told that in the second century after Christ, while the Romans were still in Britain, a certain Lucius, a British King, became a Christian. His people also became Christian, and Lucius built a church at Thorney, where a temple of Apollo had once stood. Lucius is also said to have built a church where St. Paul’s now stands, on the site of a temple of Diana.
Another very interesting story is that of the rebuilding of the church at Thorney in the Saxon times. The Venerable Bede tells us that Sebert, King of the East Saxons, and nephew of Ethelbert, King of Kent, was 8converted to Christianity by St. Augustine in A.D. 603 or 604. The Norman monks said that this King Sebert built a church and founded a monastery at Thorney Isle, and a very beautiful story is told about the consecration of this church of King Sebert’s.
One stormy Sunday night—the very night before Mellitus, Bishop of London, was to come and consecrate the church—a fisherman named Edric was casting his nets into the Thames. While he was doing this he heard a voice calling to him from Lambeth, on the other side of the river, and when he had crossed over in his boat he found a venerable looking man in foreign dress, who asked to be ferried over to Thorney Isle. Edric took him across the river, and when they landed at Thorney the stranger went at once to the church, leaving the fisherman waiting by the shore. Then, while Edric watched, a heavenly light seemed to fill all the air, and angels ascended and descended on a ladder which reached from heaven to earth. Edric heard the angels 9singing, and saw how they burned sweet incense and held flaming tapers. At last the stranger came back, and said to Edric: “I am Peter, keeper of the keys of Heaven. When Mellitus arrives to-morrow, tell him what you have seen, and show him the token that I, St. Peter, have consecrated my own Church of St. Peter, Westminster, and have anticipated the Bishop of London. For yourself, go out into the river; you will catch a plentiful supply of fish, whereof the larger part shall be salmon. This I have granted on two conditions—first, that you never fish again on Sundays; secondly, that you pay a tithe of them to the Abbey of Westminster.”
When King Sebert and Bishop Mellitus arrived the next day for the solemn consecration, Edric met them, bringing a salmon, which he presented to the Bishop from St. Peter, at the same time telling him the wondrous story. It is told that the Bishop saw on the church the crosses and all the marks of consecration, and was satisfied that the fisherman’s tale was true.
10King Sebert is said to have died about the year 616, and he and his wife Ethelgoda were buried in the church at Thorney. His tomb was replaced in the great church built on Thorney Isle by Edward the Confessor, and was finally moved into the present church, where it still remains.
It is supposed that the church at Thorney was left neglected until it was restored by Offa, King of the Mercians. After his day it was probably overrun and robbed by the heathen Danes, but it is said to have been again restored by the great St. Dunstan, who brought some Benedictine monks from Glastonbury to the monastery at Thorney.
Harold the Dane, son of Canute, was buried at Thorney, but his brother, Hardicanute, ordered the body to be taken out of its grave and thrown into the Thames. An old story says: “And he (Hardicanute) caused to be hurled out the body of Harold, and to be thrown, beheaded, all out of church; head and body he throws into the Thames. The Danes drew it from the water, and caused it to be buried in the cemetery of the Danes.” (St. Clement Danes).
KING SEBERT’S TOMB.
11Now we come to the time of Edward the Confessor, when we feel we know more about the real history.
Edward the Confessor had been in exile in Normandy during the reigns of the Danish Kings. When Hardicanute died, Edward came back to England, and was crowned King at Winchester. After he was once settled in his kingdom he remembered a solemn vow he had made while he was in a foreign land, and when he doubted whether he would ever get back to England. This was the vow: “Sire Saint Peter, under whose aid I put myself and my property, be to me a shield and protection against the tyrant Danish plans: Be to me lord and friend against all my enemies. To thy service I will entirely give myself up, and well I vow to you and promise you, when I shall be of strength and age, to Rome I will make my pilgrimage, where you and your companion Saint Paul suffered martyrdom.”
12The English were most unwilling that their King should leave them, and go away on such a long and dangerous journey as it was in those days. So they begged the King to remain, and he sent to ask the Pope what he might do instead of going to Rome. The Pope answered that he might build or restore some monastery in honour of St. Peter. There is a beautiful old story which tells that while the King was thinking over this matter, and wondering where to build his monastery, a message was brought to him from a holy hermit of Worcestershire, one Wulsinus, and the message was as follows: “I have a place in the west of London, which I myself chose, and which I love. This formerly I consecrated with my own hands, honoured with my presence, and made it illustrious by divine miracles. The name of the place is Thorney, which once, for the sins of the people, being given to the fury of barbarians, from being rich is become poor, from being stately, low, and from honour is become contemptible. This let the King, by my 13command, repair and make it a house of monks, adorn it with stately towers, and endow it with large revenues. There shall be no less than the House of God and the Gates of Heaven.”
This, and other reasons, decided the King to rebuild the church at Thorney Isle, and this great “Minster of the West” was probably begun about the year 1055. In 1065 the eastern part of the church, that is to say, the choir and transepts, was ready, and it was consecrated by Archbishop Stigand on Innocents’ Day, 28th December 1065. King Edward was too ill to be at the service, so his wife, Queen Editha, had to represent him.
Edward the Confessor died on 5th January 1066, and was buried the next day, the Feast of the Epiphany, in front of the high altar of his new church.
That church was very different to look at from the Abbey we all know at the present day. It was built in what is called the Norman style, with massive pillars, round arches, and round-headed windows. It must 14have been a very large and splendid church, almost as large as the present one, only that it was not so high.
The church and the surrounding monastery buildings were finished during the reigns of the early Norman kings, and William the Conqueror confirmed the charters granted to the Abbey by the Confessor, and bestowed yet more lands upon it.
We must now pass over nearly two hundred years, and speak of the time of King Henry III. In the year 1220, Henry III began to build a very beautiful chapel, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, at the eastern end of the Abbey church. It was just about this time that some of the grand cathedrals of France, such as those of Amiens, Reims, and Chartres, were being built in that lovely and graceful pointed style which is called Gothic, but which really comes from France.
Henry III, when visiting his brother-in-law, St. Louis, King of France, had no doubt seen some of these glorious new churches, and was very anxious to build one like them in honour of King Edward the Confessor, for whom he had a great reverence.
Photo W. Rice, F.R.P.S.
Allen & Co (London) Ltd Sc
The Norman Cloister.
15Accordingly, in 1245, he began to have the Confessor’s Norman church pulled down, and in its stead he built the splendid church we now see, a church which has been called “the most lovely and lovable thing in Christendom.”
The choir and transepts, the Chapter-House, and some of the cloisters were built during Henry’s reign. The monks sang service in the new choir and transepts for the first time on 13th October 1269, when the body of Edward the Confessor was placed in the magnificent new shrine made for it by Henry III.
Some of the nave was then gone on with, but it was not built to its present length until the reign of Henry V. The first time it was used for a procession was when the Te Deum was sung in thanksgiving after the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The money for building this part of the Abbey was given into the care of a man named Dick Whittington, 16whom some people think to have been the famous Lord Mayor of that name. This, however, is doubtful.
The church built by Henry III is very different from a Norman church. Instead of round arches, it has very pointed ones; the windows are long and pointed; the pillars are tall, slender, and graceful. The wonder seems to be how such a building can have stood for all these hundreds of years. And indeed it would not stand, if it were not for the beautiful flying buttresses which support it on the outside.
In the reigns of Edward III and Richard II the cloisters were finished, and Abbot Litlington built the celebrated rooms known as the Jerusalem Chamber and the College Hall. A very fine North Porch, called “Solomon’s Porch,” was built in Richard II’s reign, but unhappily none of it now remains.
In the year 1503, King Henry VII began the chapel which is known by his name, and which is so famous for its beauty. It stands on the place where Henry III’s Lady Chapel 17stood, but it is much larger than the older chapel, and some houses had to be pulled down to make room for it, among them being the house where the poet Chaucer is said to have lived. Henry VII’s chapel is too elaborate to describe here. The decoration is so rich and so delicate that it looks almost like lace-work, and the badges carved on the walls, the Tudor roses, the Beaufort portcullis, and the fleur-de-lys are a kind of history lesson in themselves. The fan-tracery vault is most wonderful, both in its lovely design and splendid masonry work.
We have now come almost to an end of the story of the actual building of the Abbey,—at any rate of the chief parts of it. The tracery of the great west window was put up in the year 1498, in Abbot Esteney’s time, but the glass in it dates only from the reign of George II. The western towers, which were begun long before, were finished in 1739 or 1740, from a design made by a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren.
In 1540, King Henry VIII made great 18changes in the monasteries all over England. The monks were sent away from Westminster, and their place was taken by a Dean and twelve prebendaries. For just ten years, from 1540 to 1550, the Abbey was made into a cathedral, or church where a bishop has his throne. During these years there was a Bishop of Westminster, but when the bishop resigned, in 1550, his diocese was joined once more to the See of London.
Henry VIII also made new arrangements for the old School, which had existed in the monastery from the Confessor’s time.
When Queen Mary Tudor came to the throne she brought the monks back, with Abbot Feckenham to rule over them, and the old services were restored for a time.
Queen Elizabeth changed this again, and established the Abbey as a Collegiate Church, with a Dean and Prebendaries. The present arrangements are not very different from those of her time, in spite of certain changes which have had to be made in modern days.
Queen Elizabeth also re-established the 19School, much on the same plan as her father had done. She settled that there should be a Head-Master, an Under-Master, and forty Scholars, who are called either King’s Scholars or Queen’s Scholars, according as the Sovereign is a king or a queen.
Westminster School always remembers what Queen Elizabeth did for it, and her name is commemorated in the prayers.
Now, having described something of the foundation and building of the Abbey, it is time to turn our thoughts to the many important and interesting things that have happened there, and to the great people of our nation who are resting within its walls.
“Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king; and all the people rejoiced and said: God save the king, Long live the king, May the king live for ever.”—1 Kings i. 39, 40.
The greatest and most important ceremonies which have taken place in Westminster Abbey are, of course, the Coronations of our Kings and Queens, and so we will speak first of this most interesting part of the Abbey history.
Such a wonderful succession of coronations has never been seen in any other building in the world. Ever since 1066 our sovereigns have been crowned close to the spot where Edward the Confessor was first buried, and where the Saxon Harold and Norman William stood more than 800 years ago.
CORONATION CHAIR, WITH SWORD AND SHIELD OF STATE.
21Dean Stanley tells us that the coronation-rite of the Kings of Britain is the oldest in Europe, and that the inauguration of Aidan, King of the Dalriadic Scots, by St. Columba, in the sixth century, is the oldest ceremony of the kind in Christendom. It is good for us to remember these days of old, for it helps us to understand much better what is going on now, and teaches us the meaning of many of the solemn services and ceremonies of Church and State.
The Coronation Service has been slightly changed, of course, from time to time, but its chief parts are much the same as they were when William the Conqueror was crowned at Westminster in 1066. From very early times the coronations had been partly religious and partly civil ceremonies, and had taken place in a church, the day chosen being either a Sunday or some high festival, like Christmas Day, Whitsunday, or a Saint’s Day. The Saxon Kings were usually crowned in Winchester Cathedral. Canute was crowned at St. Paul’s.
22Before speaking of any of the old Westminster Coronations, it will be a good plan to describe, very shortly, what is done at Coronations in our own day. We will take the little book of the “Form and Order for the Coronation of King Edward and Queen Alexandra,” and see what it says.
To begin with, the Sacred Oil for the anointing of the King was consecrated in the Confessor’s Chapel, and then placed on the altar. The Litany was said, and a hymn was sung as the clergy, carrying the Regalia, went down to the west door to meet the King and Queen.
When the King and Queen came into church the choir sang an anthem beginning with the words: “I was glad when they said unto me, We will go into the house of the Lord.”
The Westminster scholars have for long years had the right of acclaiming the King and Queen at the Coronations, and their shouts of “Vivat Regina Alexandra,” “Vivat Rex Edwardus,” were heard in the anthem 23as the sovereigns, first the Queen and then the King, walked up the Abbey.
At Coronations a great platform, called the Theatre, is put up, and covers a wide space in front of the high altar. On this platform the Coronation Chair (King Edward’s Chair, as it is called) is placed, and also the thrones. Here all the principal people stand, and here the whole great ceremony is performed.
When the King and Queen reached this platform the Archbishop of Canterbury turned to the people, and asked for what is called the Recognition, that is to say, he asked whether the people of England were willing to accept the King, and to do him homage. They answered by shouting out: “God save King Edward.”
The Regalia were then placed on the altar, and the Archbishop began the Communion Service. After the Creed the actual Coronation began. The King first took the solemn Oath to observe the statutes, laws, and customs of the land, and to cause 24“law and justice, in mercy, to be executed in all his judgments.” He also promised to maintain and preserve the Church of England as by law established. The King then kissed the Book of the Gospels, and signed the Oath. The Archbishop then began the beautiful hymn “Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,” sung as a prayer for the blessing of the Holy Spirit on the King and Queen. After the hymn, the King, sitting in the Coronation Chair, on the Stone of Scone, was solemnly anointed with the Holy Oil. Then the Lord Great Chamberlain girt the King with the Sword of State, and after that the Sub-Dean of Westminster, acting for the Dean, put on him the Imperial Robe, and the Archbishop presented him with the Orb. The King then received the Ring, as a sign of kingly dignity, and then the two Sceptres,—the sceptre with the cross and the sceptre with the dove.
After this came the putting on of the Crown itself, which was brought by the 25Sub-Dean and placed on the King’s head by the Archbishop. The people again shouted “God save the King”; the peers put on their coronets; the trumpets sounded, and the great guns at the Tower were fired off.
The Archbishop then presented the Holy Bible to the King, saying these beautiful words: “Our Gracious King, we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is wisdom; this is the royal law; these are the lively oracles of God.”
After this came the Benediction. The King was then led to his throne, and received the homage of all the princes and peers, the Prince of Wales being the first to do homage to his father. When that splendid ceremony was over the Queen was crowned by the Archbishop of York. As Queen Alexandra was Queen-Consort, she did not sit in King Edward’s Chair, as of course Queen Victoria did, but she knelt at the altar-step to be crowned. As 26she was led to her throne she made a deep obeisance to the King, who rose and bowed to her.
The actual Coronation being finished, the Archbishop proceeded with the Communion Service, and the King and Queen received the Holy Communion, which was administered to them by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of Westminster.
At the end of the service the “Te Deum” was sung, and the whole assembly cheered as the King walked down the Abbey, in his Royal Robe and Crown, and bearing the Sceptre and Orb.
This is an outline of the Coronation Service of King Edward VII, and it is especially interesting because, in spite of some few small changes, it shows us what the Coronations of our Kings have been like ever since the Confessor’s days. It may be well just to explain what is meant by the word “Regalia,” because the history of the Regalia carries us back to times even before Edward the Confessor, as 27Offa, King of the Mercians, is said to have placed the Regalia and Coronation Robes in the church at Thorney Isle. We should notice that the Regalia, that is, the crowns, sceptres, and orbs, had Anglo-Saxon names. The King’s crown was called the crown of Alfred, or of St. Edward; the Queen’s crown was called the crown of Editha, wife of Edward the Confessor. The sceptre with the dove was a remembrance of the peaceful days of the Confessor’s reign, after the Danes were driven out. The Coronation oath used to be taken on a copy of the Gospels which was said to have belonged to Athelstane. The orb appears in the famous Bayeux tapestry, showing that it must have been used in Saxon days.
Now let us turn for a little to some of the Coronations of particular Kings. As we have seen, the Saxon Kings were usually crowned at Winchester, as Edward the Confessor himself was.
The first Coronation to take place in the great church founded and built by the Confessor 28was that of Harold the Saxon, son of Earl Godwin, and brother-in-law of the Confessor. There was much anxiety in the country about the succession, and Harold was crowned at Westminster in great haste and confusion the day after the Confessor died, and the very day of his funeral, January 6th, 1066.
The next coronation was indeed different, for many things had happened in England meanwhile. As we all know, William Duke of Normandy, cousin of Edward the Confessor, had claimed the throne of England by right of inheritance. He had sailed over to England, had defeated and slain Harold at the Battle of Hastings (or Senlac), and was now King. When we remember that Charlemagne was crowned Emperor in St. Peter’s at Rome by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day, A.D. 800, it makes it all the more interesting to think that the day chosen for the Conqueror’s Coronation was also Christmas Day. He stood there in the Abbey, close to the grave of the Confessor, 29having on one side of him the Saxon Aldred, Archbishop of York, and on the other the Norman Bishop of Coutances. Archbishop Stigand, of Canterbury, had fled.
In the church were many of the Saxon people of London, and mixed with them were a number of Normans. Outside, the Norman horsemen kept guard. When the people began to acclaim the King in the usual English fashion, the Norman soldiers did not understand what was going on, and thought it was a riot. Being afraid of what might happen, they set fire to some of the thatched buildings near the Abbey. The crowd rushed out in alarm, leaving William alone in the church, with the bishops and other clergy. A terrible tumult followed, and even the Conqueror trembled. The rest of the Coronation was hurriedly finished, Archbishop Aldred making William promise to defend the Saxons before he would put the crown on his head.
The Conqueror, like the Saxon Kings before him and the Norman Kings after 30him, used to appear in church on the great festivals wearing his crown.
From this time onward the Coronations always took place in Westminster Abbey. All the Regalia were kept in the Treasury at Westminster until the time of Henry VIII, and some of them until the time of the Commonwealth. It was part of the duty of the Abbot of Westminster to instruct and prepare the King for his Coronation. Further, it was settled by Lanfranc, the first Norman Archbishop of Canterbury, that the Archbishop of Canterbury, and not the Archbishop of York, was to have the right to crown the King.
The next Coronation of special interest is that of Henry III, the King who built the present Abbey Church. When Henry succeeded to the throne in 1216, after the sad and unfortunate reign of his father, King John, London was in the hands of the Dauphin of France, Prince Louis. Henry, therefore, could not be crowned at Westminster, and was first crowned at Gloucester, by the Bishop of Winchester, not with the crown, but with a chaplet or garland. It will be remembered that King John’s baggage and treasures, with the Regalia, had been swept away by the tide as he was crossing the Wash.
[W. Rice, F.R.P.S.
NORTH AMBULATORY, WITH TOMBS OF HENRY III. AND EDWARD I.
31It was not until Whitsunday 1220 that Henry was solemnly crowned in the Abbey by Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury. He was the last King to be crowned in the Confessor’s Norman Church. The day before his Coronation he had laid the foundation-stone of the Lady Chapel, that beautiful chapel which once stood where Henry VII’s Chapel now stands.
Edward I was in the Holy Land when his father died, and therefore was not crowned until the year 1274, when he and his beloved Queen, Eleanor of Castile, were crowned together,—the first King and Queen who had been jointly crowned. At this Coronation five hundred great horses, which had been ridden by the princes and nobles, were let loose among the crowd for any one to catch who could.
32The Coronation of Edward I brings two very interesting things to our mind. These two things are, first, that Edward I was the King who brought the Stone of Scone from Scotland to England; and secondly, that it was he who ordered the present Coronation Chair to be made. This Coronation Chair, which was made in 1307 to contain the Stone of Scone, is perhaps the most precious thing in all the Abbey, excepting the Confessor’s shrine.
Some beautiful old stories are told about the Stone of Scone. One of these stories says that it was the Stone on which Jacob laid his head in Bethel when he had the wonderful vision of angels ascending and descending on the ladder which reached from earth to heaven. The sons of Jacob are said to have taken this sacred stone with them into Egypt, whence it was carried in after years to Spain, and then to Ireland, where it was used at the coronations of the Irish Kings. It was placed on the sacred hill of Tara, and was called “Lia Fail,” or 33the “Stone of Destiny.” If a true King sat upon it to be crowned, the stone made a noise like thunder, but if the King elect was only a pretender the Stone was silent. One story tells us that the Stone was carried across from Ireland to Scotland about 330 B.C., by Fergus, the founder of the Scottish monarchy, and that it was placed, first at Dunstaffnage, and then at Iona. In A.D. 850 it was brought by Kenneth II to Scone, where it was enclosed in a wooden chair, as it now is at Westminster. The Kings of Scotland, from Malcolm IV to John Baliol, sat on the Stone to be crowned. Edward I himself is said to have been crowned King of Scotland on the Sacred Stone of Scone after he had defeated John Baliol at the Battle of Dunbar in 1296. Whether this was so or not, Edward I carried off the Stone and the Scottish Regalia to Westminster, and placed them near the Confessor’s shrine.
In the last year of his reign Edward I ordered a chair to be made in which the Stone was to be enclosed, and in which the Kings 34of England were to sit to be crowned. In this very chair every English sovereign has been crowned, from Edward II to Edward VII. It has only once been taken out of the Abbey, and that was when it was taken into Westminster Hall for the inauguration of Cromwell as Lord Protector of the Realm on December 16th, 1653.
In Edward III’s reign the Scots tried very hard to get the Stone back again, and the King, who wished to content them, very nearly allowed them to have it. But the people of London would not hear of such a thing, and, as an old writer says, “would not suffer the Stone to depart from themselves.”
We must now speak of some other Coronations. Richard II’s Coronation was very splendid, and the ceremony was so long and tiring that the King, who was still quite a boy, fainted from fatigue. Two interesting ceremonies began at this Coronation. One was the first appearance of the “Champion,” as he was called. The Champion was a knight 35who threw down his glove as a challenge to any one who disputed the King’s claim to the throne. The last appearance of the Champion was at the Coronation of George IV, in 1820, so this curious old custom lasted for more than four hundred years.
Again, Richard II was the first King to be accompanied at his Coronation by a body of Knights, the Knights who were afterwards called the “Knights of the Bath.” It became the custom for the King to create a number of Knights on the eve of his Coronation, and these Knights accompanied him in his procession. Part of the solemn ceremony of receiving Knighthood was the taking of a bath, as a sign of purity both of body and soul.
The Knights of the Bath once used to be installed in Henry VII’s Chapel, and the Dean of Westminster is always the Dean of the Order. However, no Knights have been installed at Westminster for a long time past. Many of the old banners of the Knights of the Bath still hang over the stalls in Henry VII’s Chapel, just as the banners of the Knights of the 36Garter hang in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor. On the backs of the stalls are the coats-of-arms of the Knights, emblazoned on gilded metal plates.
But to return for a moment to the Coronation of Richard II. It has an especial interest for Westminster, as the Abbey possesses a most valuable book, called the “Liber Regalis,” which was drawn up by Abbot Litlington, and which gives the whole order of the Coronation service. This has been followed, more or less, at all the Coronations since that time.
We must now pass over nearly two centuries, and pause to think of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth, remembering that it was she who finally founded Westminster Abbey as a Collegiate Church, and who re-established the School much on the present plan. Elizabeth’s accession was a very happy event for her subjects, and there were great rejoicings everywhere. Her Coronation was the last at which the ancient Latin Coronation Mass was celebrated, and the 37Abbot of Westminster took his part in the service for the last time. His place is now, of course, taken by the Dean, or by the Sub-Dean, should the Dean be ill or unable to attend. At Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation the Litany was said in English, instead of in Latin, and the Epistle and Gospel were read in both Latin and English, showing that, for the future, our own English language was going to be used for our Church services.
At the Coronation of Charles I several things happened which people considered unlucky, and as a sign that misfortunes were coming upon the King. To begin with, Charles wore white instead of the usual red or purple, and this was thought to be a bad omen, as if meaning that the King was to be a victim, there having been some old prophecy of trouble for a “White King.” Then the sceptre with the dove was broken, and as the dove could not be mended without the mark being seen, a new dove had to be made. In the later part of the day a shock of earthquake was felt. All these things 38were regarded as signs of coming evil, and were no doubt remembered in the sad days of the Civil War, and at the time of the King’s imprisonment and death.
Westminster is a Royal foundation, and the old Royalist spirit always remained strong there, especially among the boys of Westminster School; and this in spite of the changes made at the Abbey by the Puritans during the Commonwealth.
The famous Archbishop Laud, the friend of Charles I, was one of the twelve Prebendaries of Westminster, and took the Dean’s place at Charles I’s Coronation.
Charles II and James II were both crowned on St. George’s Day, the festival of the Patron Saint of England.
William and Mary were crowned as joint sovereigns, Mary sitting in a Chair of State made for the occasion, a chair which is now to be seen in Henry VII’s Chapel. She also had the sword and other symbols of sovereignty given to her, just as her husband, King William, had.
39The Coronation of George IV is remembered partly for its magnificence, but chiefly, perhaps, on account of the sad and foolish attempt to get into the Abbey made by poor Queen Caroline, and the manner in which she was turned away from the doors.
The Coronation of Queen Victoria brings us nearer to our own time, and the thought of that day reminds us of the good Queen whose long life of anxious work and responsibility began in her early girlhood. She took upon her the cares of sovereignty at an age when most girls think mainly of amusing themselves, and we all know how well she kept the solemn promises made on her Coronation Day at the Abbey.
King Edward VII’s Coronation has already been described. That beautiful and stately ceremony was all the more touching and impressive because of the thankfulness of the people for the King’s recovery from a dangerous illness, a feeling which made their gladness and enthusiasm all the greater.
This short account of some of the Coronations 40will help to explain still further how and why the Abbey has always held such an important place in our national life. We see that the Norman, Plantagenet, Tudor, Stuart, and Hanoverian sovereigns have all come here to be crowned, close to the shrine of the last Saxon King, much in the same way as the French Kings used to go for their coronations to the great cathedral at Reims, and as the Tsars of Russia go to the Kremlin at Moscow.
We must now leave the Coronations, and turn to think of some of the great people who are buried and commemorated in the Abbey.
SHRINE OF KING EDWARD THE CONFESSOR.
KING EDWARD THE CONFESSOR
One great society alone on earth:
The noble Living and the noble Dead.”
King Edward the Confessor is such an important person in the history of the Abbey that his Chapel and Shrine must be described in a chapter by themselves.
As has already been told, the Confessor died on January 5th, 1066, and was buried the next day, January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany. He was laid in front of the high altar of his newly built church, and the Conqueror afterwards presented splendid hangings to cover the simple tomb which was erected over the grave.
There is an interesting old story of something 42that happened at this tomb in the reign of William the Conqueror.
When Lanfranc became Archbishop of Canterbury, most of the Saxon bishops were sent away and Normans were put in their places. Among the Saxon bishops was the good old St. Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester. He was made bishop in 1062, in the Confessor’s time. The Normans despised him, and thought him ignorant because he could not speak French, and they thought he would not be able to give any good advice to the King. Wulfstan was told that he must come to Westminster to meet the other bishops. They then said to him that he must give up the pastoral staff, which belonged to him as a bishop. Wulfstan showed no anger, but only said quite simply that he would resign his staff, not to the archbishop, “but rather to St. Edward, by whose authority I received it.” He then went into the Abbey, walked up to the Confessor’s tomb, and, raising his arm slowly, he struck the pastoral staff into the stone, saying: 43“Receive, my lord the King; and give it to whomsoever thou mayst choose.” It is said that the staff remained firmly fixed in the stone, so that no one could pull it out. The King and the Archbishop were amazed, and acknowledged that they had done wrong in trying to turn Wulfstan out of his bishopric. They begged Wulfstan to take his staff once more. The old man came near, and drew the staff out quite easily. The King and the Archbishop went down on their knees and begged his forgiveness, but, as the old story says: “He, who had learned from the Lord to be mild and humble in heart, threw himself in his turn upon his knees.”
We are told that in 1098 the Confessor’s tomb was opened, and that his body was found to be still in perfect preservation. Bishop Gundulph, of Rochester, alone ventured to uncover the face. The memory of Edward’s pure life, and of his goodness and charity, together with the miracles that were believed to be worked at his tomb, caused the people to honour him more and 44more as a saint, and in the year 1161, Pope Alexander III caused his name to be formally added to the names of the Saints of the Christian Church. In our Prayer-Books his name appears on October 13th, as King Edward the Confessor. A “confessor” means some one who has suffered for the faith of Christ without actual shedding of blood. In King Edward’s case it alludes to his exile in the time of the heathen Danes. The “Translation” of which the Prayer-Book speaks means the moving of the body into the shrine. This “Translation” took place on October 13th, 1163, when the Confessor’s body was placed in the new and splendid shrine made for it by King Henry II. This ceremony took place at midnight, and both Henry II and Archbishop Becket were present.
While the Abbey was being rebuilt in the reign of Henry III, the Confessor’s coffin was taken for the time to the Palace of Westminster close by. On October 13th, 1269, it was brought back with great pomp, and 45placed in another shrine, more gorgeous even than the former one.
The coffin was carried by the King himself, his brother, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, his two sons, Edward and Edmund, together with many of the nobles of the land. Dean Stanley says that this great ceremony must have reminded Henry III of an equally splendid one which he saw at Canterbury Cathedral when he was a boy. This was the “Translation” of the relics of St. Thomas à Becket in 1220, when Henry III walked in the procession. Pandulf, the Papal Legate (who had come to England in King John’s reign), and Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, were there also, to see Becket’s body placed in the shrine prepared for it.
The chapel in which the Confessor’s shrine stands, and in which so many of our Kings and Queens are buried, is raised above the rest of the church by a mound of earth brought from Holy Land. What we now see of the shrine is only the remains of its former splendour. It was adorned at 46first with mosaic-work, and with many gold and jewelled images. The materials for the decoration were brought from Rome, and the shrine was made by Italian workmen. In Henry VIII’s time the beautiful decorations of the shrine, and the various treasures kept near it, were taken away. The monks were afraid that even the Confessor’s body might be destroyed, so they buried it in another part of the church. When Queen Mary Tudor came to the throne the shrine was set up again, and King Edward’s body was restored to its place. The Queen presented images and jewels for the adornment of the shrine. Under the Commonwealth the ornaments of the shrine were again removed, but the Confessor’s body was not removed or disturbed.
Another interesting story about the Confessor’s shrine must be told here. When James II was crowned, in 1685, one of the “singing men” thought he saw a hole made in the Confessor’s coffin by the fall of some bit of the wooden scaffolding. On going to 47see, he found that there was a hole, and he could see something shining inside the coffin. He put in his hand, and drew out a gold cross and chain, which he gave to the Dean. The Dean, in his turn, gave this precious cross and chain to the King. James II, seeing that the coffin was so unsafe, had it enclosed in another strong and solid one, and since that time the body has rested in peace. On the north side of the Confessor lies his wife, Queen Editha, the daughter of Earl Godwin. She is usually supposed to have been a sweet and gentle woman, but opinions differ a little on this point. At any rate, she appears to have been very well instructed for those days, and, we are told, very clever with her needle,—a valuable accomplishment for any woman. On the south side of the shrine lies the “Good Queen Maud,” wife of Henry I, and great-niece of Edward the Confessor. As she was a Saxon princess, her marriage with Henry I made the Saxons and Normans much better friends than they had been before. Queen Maud was a very good woman, 48and very kind to the poor. Neither of these Queens have any monument.
The Confessor’s shrine was always held to be a most important and sacred place, and many precious and beautiful things were placed near it, as if to do it honour. Among these the Stone of Scone was chief. We have already heard how and when it came to Westminster, and why it was so greatly prized. But the Stone of Scone was not alone. The coronet of Llewellyn, the last Welsh Prince of Wales, was taken by Edward I, and hung up in the Confessor’s Chapel by Edward’s little son Alfonso. Every one will remember that Edward II—Edward of Carnarvon, as he was called—was the first Prince of Wales who was the son of an English King.
If we could have visited the Abbey in those old days we should have seen yet another very interesting thing in the Confessor’s Chapel. This was a golden cup containing the heart of Prince Henry d’Almayne, son of Richard Earl of Cornwall, 49and nephew of Henry III. The story of this heart takes us back both to the Barons’ War and to the Crusades. It also takes us back to the great Italian poet Dante, who writes of Prince Henry’s heart in his famous poem, the Divine Comedy.
The story is as follows. At the Battle of Evesham, in 1265, when Simon de Montfort and the other Barons were fighting against Henry III, Simon de Montfort was slain. It must be remembered that Simon de Montfort had married Eleanor, daughter of King John, and that he was therefore brother-in-law of King Henry III, and of Richard Earl of Cornwall. That is rather an important part of the story.
Some years afterwards, in 1271, there was a great council held at the town of Viterbo, in Italy, for the purpose of electing a new Pope. The King of France, Prince Edward and Prince Edmund of England, and Prince Henry d’Almayne, came there also, on their way home from the Crusade. Guy and Simon, sons of the great Simon de Montfort, 50were also in Italy, and they, too, went to Viterbo. One day they were all at service in the Church of San Silvestro, when suddenly, just at the most solemn part of the Mass, Guy de Montfort rushed forward and stabbed his cousin, Prince Henry, even while the prince clung to the altar for protection. Not content with killing Prince Henry, Guy de Montfort dragged him out by the hair of the head into the square in front of the church. This was all done in revenge for the death of Simon de Montfort at Evesham. Guy de Montfort escaped, but was afterwards excommunicated. Prince Henry’s body was brought home, and buried in the monastery-church of Hayles in Gloucestershire, where his father also was buried, as being the founder of the monastery. Prince Henry’s heart was put into a golden cup, and brought to the Abbey, where it was placed close to the Confessor’s shrine,—some say, in the hand of a statue.
The shield of Richard Earl of Cornwall is carved on the Abbey walls, in the spandrels 51of the beautiful arcade which runs round the interior of the whole Church. It will be found in the South Aisle.
In the North Aisle, also in the arcade, is the shield of Simon de Montfort, with its double-tailed lion. When we look at this shield, we remember Simon de Montfort’s great work for his country, and how he helped to form our English Parliament. But his name reminds us of something else that happened in Southern France, and for which we feel sorry. Simon’s father, Count Simon de Montfort, had a great deal to do with the persecution of the Albigenses in 1209–1229, a cruel war which was called the Albigensian Crusade. These terrible religious wars are sad to think of, although, at the same time, it is interesting to find this link between the Abbey and the history of other parts of Europe.
But it is time to come back to Edward the Confessor himself. If we want to learn something about his character, and to understand why the people loved him so much, we 52cannot do better than study the sculptures on the screen behind the Coronation Chair. This delicately carved stone screen was made about the time of Edward IV, and along the top of it is a row of sculptures representing scenes from the life of the Confessor.
These scenes—beginning on the left hand as you face the screen—are as follows:—
1. The nobles swearing to be loyal to Queen Emma, widow of Ethelred the Unready, and mother of the Confessor.
2. Edward’s birth at Islip in Oxfordshire.
3. Edward’s Coronation at Winchester. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are represented standing on either side of the King.
4. The abolition of the Danegelt, or tax which Ethelred had made the people pay in order to bribe the Danes to leave England. The carving represents an old story which says that the Confessor saw a demon dancing on the casks which held the money, and so he at once did away with the tax.
5. This is a very curious story. A scullion, 53thinking that the King was asleep, came into his room no less than three times to steal money out of the treasure-chest. The third time the King startled him very much by speaking. He did not scold him, however, but told him to make haste and get away before Hugolin the Treasurer came. When Hugolin did come, he was very angry with the King for letting the thief get off, but Edward was very merciful, and perhaps remembered that it is sometimes a great temptation to be very poor.
6. This picture shows the King kneeling in the old church at Thorney, where he is said to have had a vision of our Lord, who appeared to him as a child.
7. This represents a very curious, almost funny, story. One Whitsunday, when the King was at church, his courtiers saw him laugh, just at a very solemn part of the service too. They asked him afterwards why he had behaved in such a strange way. He answered that he had seen the Danes and Norwegians preparing to come and attack 54England, but as the Danish King was going on board his ship he fell into the sea and was drowned. This was what had made Edward laugh.
8. This represents a quarrel between Harold and Tosti, sons of Earl Godwin, and brothers-in-law of the Confessor.
9. This is a vision, in which the Confessor saw that the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus had all turned over from their right side to their left. This meant that dreadful troubles and disasters were to come upon the world for seventy years.
10, 12, and 13. These three pictures tell the beautiful story of the pilgrim’s ring. One day the Confessor met a poor pilgrim who asked an alms, and as the old book tells it, “the king is in distress because neither gold nor silver he finds at hand. And he reflects, remains silent, looks at his hand, and remembers that on his finder he had a cherished ring, which was large, royal, and beautiful. To the poor man he gives it, for the love of St. John his dear lord: and he 55takes it with joy, and gently gives him thanks; and when he was possessed of it he departed and vanished.”
Some time after, two English pilgrims from Ludlow were travelling in Palestine, and they met an old man “white and hoary, brighter than the sun at midday,” who showed them kindness and entertained them hospitably. He told them that he was John the Evangelist, and that he had a special love for the King of their country. He then gave them back the ring, and bade them restore it to King Edward, who had given it to him when he was disguised as a poor pilgrim. They were also to tell the King that in six months’ time he would be with St. John in Paradise. The pilgrims returned to England, and the thirteenth carving shows them bringing back the ring and delivering the message, whereupon the King began to prepare himself for his death.
These stories, together with others told of Edward’s kindness to the sick and to the 56leper, show us the power of this simple goodness and piety, and explain why the Confessor’s memory was so much loved and revered.
His tomb has been the centre round which not only many of our Kings and Queens, but gradually most of our best and greatest men, have been laid to rest.
At the time of King Edward VII’s Coronation a covering, or “pall”, in red velvet and gold was placed over the upper part of the Confessor’s shrine, where it still remains. Round the edge of the pall is embroidered a beautiful Latin inscription, which runs as follows—
“Deo carus Rex Edwardus non mortuus est, sed cum XPO viaturus de morte ad vitam migravit.”
“King Edward, dear to God, has not died, but has passed from death to life, to live with Christ.”
[G. A. Dunn.
THE PLANTAGENETS OF THE DIRECT LINE FROM HENRY III TO RICHARD II, 1216–1399
“This England never did, nor never shall,
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,
But when it first did help to wound itself.
Now these her princes are come home again,
Come the three corners of the world in arms
And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue
If England to itself do rest but true.”
Shakspeare (King John).
A little more than two hundred years passed between the burial of the Confessor in the Abbey and the burial of the next English King who rests there, namely, Henry III. William the Conqueror is buried in the church which he founded at Caen, in Normandy, and William Rufus, the “Red King,” lies at Winchester, close 58to the New Forest, where he was shot by Walter Tyrrell. Henry I was buried at Reading, and King Stephen at Faversham. Henry II, the first King of the Plantagenet line, was buried in the great Abbey of Fontevrault in Anjou, the ancestral home of the Plantagenets. His eldest son, Henry, “the young King,” who rebelled against him, is buried at Rouen, where the heart of Richard Cœur-de-Lion also rests. Richard’s body is buried at Fontevrault, at his father’s feet. The heart of King John was taken to Fontevrault in a golden cup, but his body lies in Worcester Cathedral, between two Saxon saints, Wulfstan and Oswald.
And now we come to the Plantagenets who are buried in the Abbey.
Henry III, as we have already seen, had a great love and reverence for the memory of Edward the Confessor, and began the rebuilding of the Abbey Church in his honour. It was no wonder, then, that he wished his tomb to be close to the Confessor’s shrine.
59Only three of our Kings have been married in the Abbey, and of these Henry III was the first. He married Eleanor of Provence, one of four sisters who all made remarkable marriages. Eleanor’s sister Margaret married King Louis IX of France; her sister Sancha married Richard Earl of Cornwall, and her sister Beatrice married Charles of Anjou, brother of Louis IX of France, and afterwards King of Naples and Sicily. We are reminded of this close connection between the royal houses of France and England when we see on the Abbey walls the shield of Eleanor’s father, Raymond Berengar, Count of Provence. When Henry III died in 1272 he was buried, not where his tomb now is, but in front of the high altar, in the grave where the Confessor’s body had first rested. The beautiful tomb in the Confessor’s Chapel was not finished until 1291, Edward I having brought from France the precious marbles and porphyry slabs for its decoration. The tomb, like the Confessor’s, is 60of Italian design, but the fine effigy is the work of an Englishman, William Torel.
When Henry’s body was at last placed there, his heart, according to an old promise, was given in a golden cup to the Abbess of Fontevrault, who was present at the ceremony. Like the heart of his father, King John, it was to be taken back to the old Plantagenet home.
Thus began the circle of stately tombs which stand round the Confessor’s shrine in that tall, silent, shadowy chapel, now often called the Chapel of the Kings.
One thing to be remembered about the tombs of the Plantagenets is that they actually hold the body of the sovereign, and are not just monuments over a grave. In later days it became the fashion to bury in vaults.
Some years before Henry III’s death his beautiful little dumb daughter, Katherine, was buried in a small tomb in the South Ambulatory, close to St. Edmund’s Chapel. With her are buried two of her brothers who 61died young, and four young children of King Edward I.
We have already heard about the heart of another Plantagenet, Prince Henry d’Almayne, whose body, like that of his father, Richard Earl of Cornwall, is buried at Hayles, in Gloucestershire.
On either side of Henry III are buried Edward I, and his wife, Eleanor of Castile, daughter of Ferdinand III, King of Castile and Leon. Every one remembers how Queen Eleanor went out with her husband to the Crusades, and how she is said to have saved his life by sucking the poison from his wound. Eleanor, the “Queen of good memory,” died in Lincolnshire in 1290, and of the famous crosses which were put up at each place where her body rested, three still remain, at Northampton, Geddington, and Waltham. Queen Eleanor’s tomb is very beautiful, and so is her effigy, which was made by the same English artist who made the effigy of her father-in-law, King Henry III. The lower part of the tomb is decorated with shields, 62and one of them is the shield of Castile and Leon, with the castle and the lion upon it.
Edward I, the greatest soldier and lawgiver of all the Plantagenet kings, died in 1307 at the little village of Burgh-on-the-Sands, on the coast of Cumberland, when he was on his way to Scotland to try and crush the rising of the Scots under Robert Bruce.
He is buried in a very plain, rough-looking tomb, and it is thought that the tomb may have been left in an almost unfinished state in order that it might be easily opened, for, as we know, Edward I wished his bones to be carried at the head of the English army until Scotland was quite conquered. He also desired that his heart should be sent to Holy Land, where he had fought when he was young. But Edward II did not keep any of the promises he made to his father, and was very unworthy of his great name.
On Edward I’s tomb are some Latin words which mean, “Hammer of the Scots,” and “Keep troth.”
TOMBS OF EDMUND AND AVELINE OF LANCASTER, AND OF AYMER DE VALENCE.
63The tomb was opened in the year 1771, and an inner coffin of Purbeck marble was found, in which the King’s body lay. He must have been a very tall man, as, after all those centuries, he still measured 6 feet 2 inches. It is thus quite easy to understand why he was called “Longshanks.” The body was dressed in a red dalmatic, and over it a royal mantle of rich crimson satin, fastened with a splendid fibula or clasp. On the head was a gilt crown; in the right hand was the sceptre with the cross; in the left, the sceptre with the dove.
The coffin was afterwards securely closed, and has never been disturbed again.
Next to the tomb of Edward I, and just beyond the screen which separates the Chapel of the Kings from the Sacrarium, is the beautiful and highly decorated tomb of his brother, Edmund Crouchback, first Earl of Lancaster. He was the fourth son of Henry III, who named him after the Anglo-Saxon martyr-King, St. Edmund of East Anglia. There is a chapel dedicated to St. Edmund in the Abbey, and it was looked 64upon as coming next in honour after the Chapel of the Confessor.
Edmund Crouchback was a crusader, like his brother, King Edward I, and the cross or “crouch” he wore was probably the origin of his name, although some people have thought that he was perhaps hump-backed. Edmund and his first wife, the beautiful Aveline of Lancaster, were the first bride and bridegroom to be married in Henry III’s new church. They were married in 1269, but Aveline did not live very long. Her tomb is quite near her husband’s, and is considered to be one of the finest in the Abbey. Aveline was not only a great beauty, but also a great heiress, and her wealth descended to the House of Lancaster. After Aveline’s death, Edmund married Blanche, Queen of Navarre, a French princess. She was a widow when Edmund married her, and her daughter Joan afterwards married King Philip the Fair of France. Edmund and his second wife lived for some time at Provins, in Champagne, and from that town 65they brought to England the famous red roses which became the badge of the House of Lancaster. These roses were said to have been brought from the East by Crusaders. They still grow at Provins, and have a very sweet scent.
Edmund Crouchback died at Bayonne in 1296, while he was fighting for the English possessions in Gascony.
When Edmund was only eight years old, Pope Innocent II had given him the title of King of Sicily and Apulia, but this was only an empty honour, and meant that the English had to be heavily taxed in order to support Edmund’s claim and satisfy the Pope. All these exactions of Henry III’s helped to make the English more and more determined not to be taxed without their consent, and had a great deal to do with the beginning of the House of Commons in Simon de Montfort’s time.
Before passing on to the later descendants of Henry III, we must speak of two very interesting tombs which recall some important 66things in English history. These are, first, the tomb of William de Valence, in St. Edmund’s Chapel; and secondly, the tomb of his son Aymer, which stands in the Sacrarium, between the tombs of Edmund and Aveline of Lancaster.
It will be remembered that Henry III’s mother, Isabella of Angoulême, married again after King John’s death. She married the Count of La Marche and Poitiers, who belonged to the Lusignan family,—a family which was very well known in Europe, some of them being Kings of Cyprus and Jerusalem. The children of Isabella and the Count de la Marche came over to England, and the English people greatly disliked their insolence and greediness, complaining that Henry III gave too many titles and too much money to his French relations. William de Valence was the fourth son of the Count de la Marche, and was the most disliked of all Henry’s half-brothers. He was created Earl of Pembroke. He took an active part in the Barons’ War, and was 67finally sent on the expedition into Gascony with his nephew, Edmund Crouchback. Like Edmund, he died at Bayonne in 1296. His tomb is of French workmanship, and there are still some remains of the famous Limoges enamel which decorated it.
Aymer de Valence, William’s son, succeeded his father as Earl of Pembroke. He fought bravely in the Scottish wars, and was at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. He was much blamed for his cruelty in having Nigel Bruce hanged at the Castle of Kentire. Aymer died in France in 1324, very suddenly, and many people thought it was a punishment for taking part in the condemnation and death of Thomas Earl of Lancaster, son of Edmund Crouchback, who was revered as a saint. Aymer’s tomb is celebrated for its beauty. It is very like Edmund Crouchback’s, with its pinnacled canopy and niches for statues. Aymer is represented on the canopy in full armour and riding his war-horse.
The three tombs of Edmund Crouchback, 68Aymer de Valence, and Aveline of Lancaster are among the most beautiful in the Abbey, and are thought by some people to be all three the work of one artist.
King Edward II, Edward of Carnarvon, as he was called from his birthplace in Wales, is not buried in the Abbey, but at Gloucester, that town being near Berkeley Castle, where he was murdered.
We are specially reminded of King Edward III in the Abbey, for not only is he buried there, but the great sword and shield of state which were carried before him during his wars with France are placed in the Confessor’s Chapel, close to the Coronation Chair. This sword and shield make us think of those famous Battles of Crécy and Poitiers, where Edward III and the Black Prince fought.
Edward III is buried in a beautiful tomb just opposite to Henry III, and his good Queen, Philippa of Hainault, is buried next to him, according to her own wish. Her tomb was made by a Flemish artist, and was also a very fine one, but, like many others in the Abbey, it has been sadly destroyed. Queen Philippa is, of course, always remembered for having begged for the lives of the brave citizens of Calais when the King had ordered them to be hanged.
Photo W. Rice, F.R.P.S.
Allen & Co (London) Ltd Sc
Tomb of Prince John of Eltham. in S. Edmund’s Chapel.
69Close to Philippa lies her son, Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, murdered, it is to be feared, by order of his nephew, Richard II.
Eleanor de Bohun, widow of Thomas Duke of Gloucester, is buried in St. Edmund’s Chapel, and the memorial brass on her tomb is the most beautiful now left in the Abbey.
In St. Edmund’s Chapel is the tomb of another Plantagenet, Prince John of Eltham, Earl of Cornwall, brother of Edward III. He took his name from the old palace at Eltham, where he was born. Prince John died quite young, but he had already shown great promise as a soldier, and was three times Regent of the kingdom when Edward III was away in France and Scotland. He bears a shield with the lions of England and lilies of France upon it. His mother was a French 70princess, daughter of King Philip the Fair, and it was through her that Edward III thought he could claim the throne of France. Close to the tomb of Prince John of Eltham is the tiny tomb of two young children of Edward III, called, from their birthplaces, William of Windsor and Blanche of the Tower.
Two grandchildren of Edward I, Hugh and Mary de Bohun, are buried in the Chapel of St. Nicholas, another of the circle of chapels which crowns the eastern end, or apse, of the Abbey. (St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children.)
The Black Prince is buried in Canterbury Cathedral, close to where the shrine of Thomas à Becket once stood, but his son, the unhappy Richard II, had a great love for the Abbey, where he had not only been crowned, but also married to his beloved first wife, Anne of Bohemia, who was a descendant of the “Good King Wenceslas,” about whom we sing in the carol for St. Stephen’s Day.
71Richard II is buried in the Abbey, and the great tomb in which he and Anne rest was made for her. Anne died in 1394, and her funeral was a very splendid ceremony, hundreds of wax candles having been brought over from Flanders to be lighted at the service. The tomb itself is very magnificent; the gilt-bronze decorations and the robes of the effigies are engraved with the leopards of England, the broomcods of the Plantagenets, the ostrich feathers and lions of Bohemia, and the sun rising through the clouds of Crécy. The ostrich feathers should remind us of the crest and motto of the Prince of Wales.
Richard himself was not placed in this tomb until fourteen years after his supposed murder, when his body was brought back from Friars’ Langley by Henry V, in obedience to the wish of Henry IV. In the Sacrarium is a beautiful portrait of Richard II, painted in his lifetime, and therefore the oldest painting of any British sovereign. This portrait was very carefully 72restored some years ago, and represents Richard in his crown and royal robes, sitting in the Chair of State, very probably as he used to appear in the Abbey on high festivals. Richard’s well-known badge of the White Hart was painted on more than one part of the Abbey, and it is interesting to see that, in old pictures of Richard, he and his followers wear the badge of the White Hart. Many inns in England are still called by this name.
With Richard II the direct Plantagenet line ends, and his is the last tomb in the circle round the Confessor’s shrine.
Before speaking of the Plantagenet Houses of Lancaster and York we must mention some of the chief men of this time who are buried in the Abbey. First and foremost of these is the great poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, author of the famous Canterbury Tales, and the father of English poetry.
He was born in 1328, the year after Edward III came to the throne, and died in 1400, a year after Richard II. Chaucer 73lived in a house close to the old Lady Chapel built by Henry III, and his house was one of those pulled down in later days to make room for the larger Chapel of Henry VII. Chaucer is buried in Poet’s Corner, and is the first of its glorious circle of poets. His monument, which is quite near his grave, was not put up until about 150 years after his death. Just above the monument is a modern stained-glass window in Chaucer’s memory, representing scenes from his life, and from the Canterbury Tales.
The only person not of royal blood who is buried in the Chapel of the Kings is Richard’s great friend, John of Waltham, Bishop of Salisbury, who was Lord Treasurer, Keeper of the Great Seal, and Master of the Rolls. He was the first statesman to be buried in the Abbey. In St. Edmund’s Chapel are buried Ralph Waldeby, Archbishop of York, a friend of the Black Prince and tutor to Richard II, and Sir Bernard Brocas, who was renowned for his fighting in the Moorish wars. He died in 1400. His son-in-law, 74Sir John Golofre, another great friend of Richard II, was buried in the South Ambulatory in 1396. He was Richard’s ambassador in France, and was buried in the Abbey by his master’s express command.
Our next chapter must be about those younger branches of the Plantagenet family, the Houses of Lancaster and York, who also hold a place in the Abbey.
THE HOUSES OF LANCASTER AND YORK: 1399 to 1485
“Let him that is a true-born gentleman,
And stands upon the honour of his birth,
If he suppose that I have pleaded truth,
From off this briar pluck a white rose with me.”
“Let him that is no coward nor no flatterer,
But dare maintain the party of the truth,
Pluck a red rose from off this thorn with me.”
Shakspeare (King Henry VI, part 1, ii, 4).
The name of Henry of Bolingbroke, son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, reminds us that Richard II had been made to resign his crown, and that his cousin had been proclaimed King as King Henry IV. We think, too, of that sad death, or murder, of the unhappy Richard at Pontefract Castle. 76All these things, in one way or another, are connected with the history of the Abbey. Henry IV is not buried in the Abbey, but in Canterbury Cathedral, opposite the Black Prince, and, like him, near the shrine of St. Thomas. But although Westminster is not his last resting-place, Henry IV is connected with the Abbey in a very special way.
The story is familiar to us in the pages of Shakspeare. The King had intended to set out for Palestine on a pilgrimage or crusade, and he had heard a prophecy that he should die at Jerusalem. Just before he was going to start he came to the Abbey to pray at the Confessor’s shrine. While he was in the Chapel he was seized with mortal illness, and was carried into the famous “Jerusalem Chamber,” which was part of the Abbot’s house. The Jerusalem Chamber had been built not long before, and was probably the only room near with a proper fireplace in it. It was cold March weather, and Henry was laid in front of the fire. When he came to himself a little he asked what that room was, 77and being told its name, he said: “Praise be to the Father of Heaven! for now I know that I shall die in this chamber, according to the prophecy made of me beforesaid, that I should die in Jerusalem.”
Every one will remember how an old historian tells us that afterwards, when the young Prince Harry was watching by his father, he took the crown and put it on his own head, thinking that his father was dead. The King, however, was not dead, and, turning round, he reproached the prince for his heartless and undutiful hurry in taking the crown. Prince Harry was very much grieved, and explained why he had done such a thing.
After Henry IV’s death, Prince Harry, now King Henry V, spent all that day at Westminster, in sorrow and penitence for his wild life in the past. At night he went and confessed his sins to a holy hermit who lived close to the Abbey, and the hermit assured him that he would be forgiven. As we all know, Henry V became a religious 78and determined man, and a great soldier,—“Conqueror of his enemies and of himself.” Henry V was crowned in the Abbey on Passion Sunday, 1413, a cold, snowy day.
The wars in France soon began, and in 1415 a “Te Deum” was sung in the Abbey for Henry’s great victory at Agincourt, and the King attended this service in person.
Like his father, Henry V had a great wish to go to Holy Land and conquer the Holy Sepulchre from the infidels, but while he was hoping for this crusade, he was stricken with illness at Vincennes, and died in 1422, when he was only thirty-four.
It is said that the people of both Rouen and Paris were most anxious that Henry should be buried in their town, but the King had said clearly in his will that he wished to be buried at Westminster, and he had described most carefully what he wanted his Chantry Chapel to be like.
The funeral of Henry V was the most splendid ever seen in the Abbey. The great procession began in Paris, and escorted the 79body to Calais. It then came on from Dover to London. James I, King of Scots, headed the procession as chief mourner, and the widowed Queen, Katherine de Valois, followed it.
The King’s tomb stands at the extreme eastern end of the Abbey, and over it, between the tombs of Queen Eleanor and Queen Philippa, rises the famous Chantry Chapel, where prayers were to be offered up for ever.
Among the statues that adorn the Chantry are those of St. George, the patron saint of England, and St. Denys, the patron saint of France.
On a bar above the Chantry are hung King Henry V’s shield, saddle, and helmet, just as the Black Prince’s armour is hung above his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral.
The tomb below was once very splendid with gold and silver, and the figure of King Henry had a silver head. But in the reign of Henry VIII these magnificent decorations were stolen, and the robbers even carried off the silver head of the effigy. All that 80remains of the effigy is the figure of plain English oak.
We come next to the pious and gentle King Henry VI, who was so much loved by his people, in spite of all the misfortunes of his reign. It is sad to think how all Henry V’s conquests in France were lost one by one, although it was a good thing for England in the end. But there is one glorious memory connected with the wars of Henry VI’s reign, a memory which we all love and revere, whether we are French or English. That is the memory of Joan of Arc, that pure and noble young French girl whose faith and courage saved her country. When we stand in the Abbey and remember the Lancastrian Kings, it is good for us also to think of her.
Henry VI always intended to be buried in the Abbey, and one day, when he was there, some one suggested to him that his father’s tomb should be moved to one side, and that his own should be placed beside it. But Henry answered: “Nay, let him alone: he 81lieth like a noble prince. I would not trouble him.” At last Henry VI chose a grave for himself close to the Confessor’s shrine; the spot was all marked out, and indeed the tomb itself was ordered. Then came the Wars of the Roses, the defeat of the Lancastrian party, and the imprisonment of Henry VI in the Tower of London in 1461. After his mysterious death ten years later, his body was buried at Chertsey Abbey. Afterwards, in the reign of Richard III, it was moved to St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, where it still rests.
The French princess, Katherine de Valois, wife of Henry V and mother of Henry VI, is now buried in Henry V’s Chantry. It will be remembered that her second husband was Owen Tudor, and that their son, Edmund Tudor, was the father of King Henry VII. After Katherine married Owen Tudor she seemed to be quite forgotten, but when she died she was buried with all honour in the old Lady Chapel. While Henry VII’s new Lady Chapel was being built, the coffin was placed 82beside Henry V’s tomb, and remained there in a most neglected state for many long years. Then it was removed to a vault in the Chapel of St. Nicholas, and finally it was moved, by permission of Queen Victoria, into Henry V’s Chantry, where at last poor Queen Katherine rests in peace.
In 1461, when Henry VI was deposed, a prince of the House of York, Edward IV, came to the throne. He died at Westminster, and had a great funeral service in the Abbey, but he is buried in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, like his cousin, Henry VI.
The earliest monument of the House of York in the Abbey is the tomb of Philippa, Duchess of York, in the Chapel of St. Nicholas. She was the wife of Edward, second Duke of York, grandson of Edward III, who was killed at Agincourt. After his death, Philippa was made Lady of the Isle of Wight.
King Richard III is buried at Leicester, and after him came the poor little Edward V, who, with his brother, Richard Duke of York, 83was murdered in the Tower. Their bones remained at the Tower until the reign of Charles II, when they were found under a staircase. Charles II commanded that they should be brought to the Abbey, and they are placed in a tomb in Henry VII’s Chapel. Strangely enough, both these little princes are closely connected with Westminster. In 1470, Queen Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV, had taken refuge in the Sanctuary at Westminster. Nobody could dare to hurt any one who had taken sanctuary, and so the Queen felt she was safe in that time of war and trouble. Here Edward V was born. He was baptized in the Abbey, and the Abbot of Westminster was one of his godfathers.
Then later on, after Edward IV’s death, when Richard III was trying to get the crown for himself, Elizabeth Woodville again took shelter in the Sanctuary at Westminster, and brought her five daughters and her second son, the little Richard Duke of York. Edward V was already in the Tower. Richard III sent to Westminster, and insisted 84that his young nephew should be allowed to join Edward in the Tower. He dared not take him out of Sanctuary by force, but he made the Archbishop of Canterbury persuade the poor Queen to let the boy go. She was dreadfully grieved, and tried all she could to keep her son safely with her, but in vain. They parted with tears, and she never saw him again.
A little daughter of Edward IV, Margaret Plantagenet, is buried in a tiny tomb in the Confessor’s Chapel. In the Islip Chapel is the grave of Anne Mowbray, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. She was betrothed to Richard Duke of York when they were both little children of only five years old.
Anne Neville, the unhappy wife of Richard III, and daughter of Warwick “the Kingmaker,” lies in a forgotten grave in the South Ambulatory.
We see, then, how much there is in the Abbey to remind us of the Houses of Lancaster and York, and of the Wars of the Roses, besides the great wars in France.
85But further, we shall now find that it was becoming more and more the custom for the famous men of the age to be buried in the Abbey.
Richard Courtney, Bishop of Norwich, a great friend of Henry V, is buried there. He died just before the Battle of Agincourt, and was nursed by the King in his last illness. In St. Paul’s Chapel is the fine tomb of Ludovic Robsert, Lord Bourchier, who fought at Agincourt and was afterwards made the King’s Standard Bearer. Sir Humphrey Bourchier, who died fighting on the Yorkist side at the Battle of Barnet in 1471, is buried in Edmund’s Chapel. Sir Thomas Vaughan, Treasurer to Edward IV and Chamberlain to Edward V, is buried in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist.
While speaking of this time in English history, we must not forget one man who did a very great and important work in the world, and who was very closely connected with the Abbey, although he is not actually buried there. This was William Caxton, 86the first English printer. Caxton belongs almost entirely to the Lancastrian and Yorkist times, as he was born in 1410, during the reign of Henry IV, and died in 1491, in the reign of Henry VII. About the year 1471 (the year in which Henry VI died) Caxton came to live in Westminster. He set up his printing-press in a house quite close to the Abbey, and there he worked for the last twenty years of his life. It seems that the Abbot of Westminster was greatly interested in Caxton and his work, and one of his great friends and patrons was the Lady Margaret, mother of King Henry VII. Caxton printed several books for her. Caxton is buried quite near the Abbey, in St. Margaret’s Churchyard. There is a fine stained-glass window to his memory in St. Margaret’s Church. Caxton stood on the threshhold of the modern world, and, as we realise the great changes brought about in human life by the art of printing, we may think of that window in St. Margaret’s, where Caxton is represented holding his 87motto: “Fiat Lux” (let there be light), while below are Tennyson’s beautiful lines:
“Thy prayer was Light, more Light while time shall last,
Thou sawest the glories growing on the night;
But not the shadow which that light would cast
Till shadows vanish in the Light of light.”
With this thought in our minds we will turn to the next period of English history.
THE HOUSE OF TUDOR
“Fair is our lot—O goodly is our heritage!
(Humble ye, my people, and be fearful in your mirth!)
For the Lord our God Most High
He hath made the deep as dry,
He hath smote for us a pathway to the ends of all the earth.”
Rudyard Kipling (The Seven Seas).
The famous House of Tudor, in which the Plantagenet lines of York and Lancaster were united, is in many ways very closely connected with the Abbey. All the Tudor sovereigns, except one, are buried in the Abbey. But this is not all, for the Abbey and the School owe their present establishment to Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth, as we shall find later on.
It was in the Tudor times that modern England really began, and most of the great 89changes that took place in the Church and the nation at that time are faithfully reflected in the Abbey history. We can read them there, just as we can read the story of the Norman Conquest, of the Conquest of Scotland, or of the French Wars.
We ought also to look beyond our own country, and remember what was going on in other parts of the world. While the Tudors were reigning in England, Christopher Columbus discovered America, and the Portuguese navigator, Vasco de Gama, sailed round the Cape of Good Hope, thus finding a new way to the East Indies. These two discoveries made a great change in the history of the world, and some of the monuments in the Abbey will speak to us of the difference which those discoveries made to England.
When we speak of the Tudors we naturally think first of King Henry VII, who built the beautiful chapel at the eastern end of the Abbey, directing that it should be the burial-place of himself and his family.
90The foundation of the Chapel has an interesting history connected with the House of Lancaster. Through his mother, Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII descended from John of Gaunt, and therefore from Edward III, and he was very anxious that people should remember this. Partly for that reason, he wanted very much to bring the body of Henry VI from Windsor, and to bury it in the new, splendid chapel at Westminster. He also wished the Pope to declare Henry VI to be a saint; and indeed, many people at that time thought him to be so. However, it happened that the body of Henry VI was never moved from Windsor after all, but there was at that time an altar to his memory in Henry VII’s Chapel.
MARGARET BEAUFORT, COUNTESS OF RICHMOND, AND MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.
91The great gates and the sculptured ornament of the Chapel are in themselves quite a lesson in English history. On the gates and on the walls we see the famous Tudor Roses, which are the red and white roses of Lancaster and York united. There is also the Portcullis of the Beaufort Castle in Anjou, which castle had belonged to Edmund Crouchback, and descended through him to John of Gaunt. Again, we see the crown caught in a bush on Bosworth Field, and two Yorkist badges, the Rose in the Sun, and the Falcon on the Fetterlock. On the gates, too, we find the daisy or “Marguérite,” the name-flower of Henry VII’s mother, the Lady Margaret. Last, but not least, we find the Red Dragon of the last British King, Cadwallader, from whom Henry VII claimed to descend, reminding us that the Tudors boasted of descent from the ancient British stock,—from King Arthur and Llewellyn. Round the Chapel, in the graceful little niches that adorn the walls, are statues of angels and saints. Among them are the Apostles, some of the martyrs, and also the royal saints of Britain, St. Edward, St. Edmund, St. Oswald, and St. Margaret of Scotland.
The first person to be buried in Henry VII’s Chapel was his wife, Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV. She died in 1503, 92and was first buried in one of the side Chapels, until her husband’s new Chapel was ready.
In 1509, Henry VII died, and was buried in the middle of the nave of his Chapel. The funeral ceremony was very splendid, and over his grave rises one of the most magnificent tombs in the whole Abbey. The monument itself was made by the great Florentine sculptor, Torrigiano, who was a fellow-student and rival of Michael Angelo. We are told that Torrigiano broke Michael Angelo’s nose in a fight they had at Florence. At any rate, he knew how to design a beautiful monument.
The bronze screen round the tomb is of English work and Gothic design, and is in quite a different style from the Italian Renaissance tomb within.
Three months afterwards, Henry’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, died, and was buried in the South Aisle of her son’s Chapel. She died just at the time of the rejoicings for the Coronation of her grandson, Henry VIII, and of Catherine of Aragon. The “Lady Margaret” was 93greatly honoured and beloved. She was a patroness of learning, and founded two colleges at Cambridge, and Professorships of Divinity at both Oxford and Cambridge. She was also a good friend to William Caxton the printer, as we have already heard. Her tomb was made by the same Florentine artist, Torrigiano, and is most beautiful. The effigy represents the Lady Margaret in her widow’s dress, her hands uplifted in prayer. The epitaph round the edge of the monument was written by the great Erasmus, who was a friend of Lady Margaret’s, and who was one of the earliest Lady Margaret Professors of Divinity at Cambridge, Bishop John Fisher being the first.
Another of the family, Owen Tudor, uncle of Henry VII, took refuge in the Sanctuary at Westminster during the Civil Wars, and became a monk. He is buried in the South Transept. A little daughter of Henry VII, Elizabeth Tudor, is buried in a tiny tomb in the Confessor’s Chapel, close to Henry III. A little son, Edward, is also buried in the 94Abbey. Henry VIII had intended to be buried at Westminster with his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to whom he was married in the Abbey. Indeed, he had actually ordered Torrigiano to make the effigies for the tomb. But, as we know, everything changed, and Henry VIII is buried in St. George’s, Windsor, with his third wife, Jane Seymour, mother of King Edward VI.
Anne of Cleves is the only one of Henry’s six wives who is buried in the Abbey. Her grave is in the South Ambulatory, and she has a large and rather ugly monument in the Sacrarium, just opposite to the tomb of Aymer de Valence. Anne of Cleves died at Chelsea in 1557.
One great name of Tudor times, that of Cardinal Wolsey, is brought back to us when we remember that in 1515 his Cardinal’s hat arrived from Rome, and was received with great pomp at the Abbey. A stately service was held; the Archbishop of Canterbury set the hat on Wolsey’s head, and a “Te Deum” was sung. Henry VIII 95and Catherine of Aragon, and Henry’s sister Mary, the French Queen, were present at the ceremony.
The boy King, Edward VI, is buried close to his grandfather, Henry VII. He was buried by Archbishop Cranmer, who was his godfather, and who had baptized and crowned him. Edward VI has no monument, but the altar of the chapel stands over his grave. The original altar was the work of Torrigiano, and must have been very beautiful. It was destroyed in the time of the Commonwealth, but parts of it have been found and are used in the present altar. The cross on this altar has a special interest for us all, because it was given to the Abbey by Ras Makonnen, the Abyssinian envoy, at the time of King Edward VII’s serious illness, when the Coronation had to be put off. The cross is of a very ancient pattern, and there is an Ethiopian inscription upon it.
Not far from the grave of Edward VI there stood for many years a pulpit—now 96in the Nave—from which it is believed Archbishop Cranmer preached at the Coronation and funeral of his royal godson, Edward VI, in 1553.
In the north aisle of Henry VII’s Chapel the two Tudor Queens, Mary and Elizabeth, are buried. Poor Queen Mary had taken much care for the Abbey. During the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI great changes had been made there; the monks had been sent away, and, unfortunately, many of the precious and beautiful things that belonged to the church and monastery had been removed or destroyed. It was even said that Protector Somerset wanted to pull down the Abbey itself. Queen Mary brought the monks back, with Abbot Feckenham to rule over them; she restored the Confessor’s shrine, and had the church and the services arranged again as they had been in the old days before the Reformation.
After her short, unhappy reign, Mary Tudor was laid to rest in her grandfather’s chapel. No monument was erected to her, 97and it is sad to think that very few of her subjects mourned for her. We are told that when the various altars in the chapel were taken down, the stones were piled up over her grave. Perhaps it was intended to make them into a monument later on. Another forty-five years passed, and then, in 1603, Queen Elizabeth died, to the great grief of all her people, whose lamentations followed her to her grave in the Abbey. She rests there, in the same vault as her sister Mary, the vault being so narrow that Queen Elizabeth’s coffin had to be placed on the top of Queen Mary’s. The monument, which is a fine one of its kind, is to Queen Elizabeth alone, and was erected to her memory by her cousin and successor, King James I. The epitaph on the western end of the monument mentions both the Tudor sister-queens, and runs as follows: “Consorts both in throne and grave, here rest we two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, in the hope of the resurrection.”
It is now time to speak of some other 98famous people who belonged to the Tudor times, and who are buried in the Abbey. Among these are the following:—
Sir Humphrey Stanley, who fought on Henry VII’s side at Bosworth, and was knighted by him after the battle. Sir Humphrey died in 1505, and is buried in the Chapel at St. Nicholas.
Sir Giles Daubeny and his wife, who are buried in St Paul’s Chapel. Sir Giles Daubeny was Lord Lieutenant of Calais in Henry VII’s time, when Calais still belonged to England. He died in 1508.
Then come some of the great ladies of the Tudor Court, namely:
Frances Grey, Duchess of Suffolk, granddaughter of Henry VII and mother of the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey, who, as every one remembers, was Queen of England for twelve days after the death of Edward VI. The Duchess is buried in St. Edmund’s Chapel, close to some of the Plantagenets, and on the spot where the altar used to stand.
Anne Seymour, the wife of Protector 99Somerset, is buried in the Chapel of St. Nicholas. She was sister-in-law to Queen Jane Seymour, mother of Edward VI. From what is told us about her she seems to have been both very clever and very fierce-tempered, and to have made people afraid of her. She lived on into the days of Elizabeth, and died in 1587, aged ninety.
In the same chapel is a tablet in memory of Jane Seymour, daughter of Protector Somerset. She was cousin to Edward VI, and it had been intended that he should marry her.
Another name of interest is that of Frances Howard, Countess of Hertford, sister of the Lord Howard of Effingham who defeated the Spanish Armada. She is buried in St. Benedict’s Chapel.
In St. Paul’s Chapel are the grave and monument of Frances Sidney, Countess of Sussex. She was the aunt of the famous Sir Philip Sidney, the soldier and poet. This lady was the foundress of Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge, which is called after her.
100In the Chapel of St. John the Baptist is the enormous monument—thirty-six feet high—of Henry Cary, Lord Hunsdon, who died in 1596. His mother was a sister of Queen Anne Boleyn, and thus he was Queen Elizabeth’s first cousin. He was Lord Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth, and was always a most devoted servant and friend to her. He had special charge of the Queen at the time of the Spanish Armada. It is said that he died partly of disappointment at having to wait a long time before Queen Elizabeth would make him Earl of Wiltshire. When he was dying the Queen came to see him, and, having brought the patent for the earldom and the robes, she had them put down on his bed. But Lord Hunsdon said to her: “Madam, seeing you counted me not worthy of this honour whilst I was living, I count myself unworthy of it now I am dying.”
In the Chapel of St. Nicholas are buried the wife and daughter of the great Lord 101Burleigh, Mildred, Lady Burleigh, and Anne, Countess of Oxford. Lord Burleigh’s own funeral service took place in the Abbey, but he is buried at Stamford. On the monument to his wife and daughter is a figure of Lord Burleigh himself, kneeling, “his eyes dim with tears for the loss of those who were dear to him beyond the whole race of womankind.” One of the figures on the tomb is that of Robert Cecil, first Earl of Salisbury, and this is especially interesting when we think of the monument to the Lord Salisbury of our own day (also a Robert Cecil) which has just been placed in the Abbey, close to the Great West Door.
Several other members of the Cecil family are buried in the Abbey, one of the chief among them being Thomas Cecil, first Earl of Exeter.
Two of the famous lawyers of the time buried in the Abbey are Sir Thomas Bromley and Sir John Puckering. Sir Thomas Bromley, who is buried in the Chapel of St. Paul, succeeded Sir Nicholas 102Bacon as Lord Keeper, and was the chief judge at the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots. Sir John Puckering, who is buried in the same chapel, had also to do with the trials both of Mary and of her secretary, Davison.
Some of Queen Elizabeth’s great soldiers rest in the Abbey. First among these we will mention Sir Francis Vere, who fought in the Flemish Wars and commanded the forces in the Netherlands. His monument, in the Chapel of St. John the Evangelist, is celebrated for its beauty. It is said to be copied from the tomb of Count Engelbrecht II of Nassau in the church at Breda.
Others of the Vere family are buried near Sir Francis. Close to this monument is that of George Holles, who fought in the same wars. Another young soldier of the same family, Francis Holles, is buried in St. Edmund’s Chapel. Both their monuments are interesting, because the statue of Sir George Holles is the first standing figure put up in the Abbey, and 103that of Francis one of the earliest sitting figures. And besides this, the statue of Sir George Holles is the first represented in Roman armour, instead of in the costume of the time.
The fashion of monuments changed a good deal in the Elizabethan days. In older times people were always represented lying down, with their hands clasped in prayer, like the figures of the Plantagenets, for instance. But the statues on the Elizabethan tombs represent people leaning upon their elbows, or sitting, or standing. We shall see that, later on, they are not content even with that, but wave their arms aloft, as if talking to a crowd of people.
Another very fine Elizabethan tomb is that of Lord and Lady Norris, who were great friends of Queen Elizabeth. This huge erection is in the Chapel of St. Andrew, not far from the monument of Sir Francis Vere. The kneeling figures round the tomb represent the six sons of Lord and Lady Norris, who were all fine, 104brave soldiers, and fought in the Netherlands and elsewhere.
But besides soldiers, lawyers, and great ladies, there are other Elizabethan names connected with the Abbey—three of these names more famous than any we have yet mentioned. These three are Edmund Spenser, William Shakspeare and Sir Walter Raleigh. It is true that the two last of these great men lived on some time after the death of Queen Elizabeth, but as they always seem to belong more to her reign than to any other, we will speak of them now, after Spenser. Edmund Spenser, author of the Faërie Queen, died in Westminster, and is buried in Poets’ Corner. A very plain monument marks the spot, but the epitaph is a beautiful one: “Here lyes, expecting the second comminge of our Saviour Christ Jesus, the body of Edmond Spenser, the Prince of Poets in his tyme, whose divine spirrit needs noe othir witnesse then the workes he left behinde him.”
105It is said that when Spenser was buried the poets who were present threw their elegies and their pens into the grave. Probably, then, Shakspeare’s pen is lying there, on Spenser’s coffin.
Then we come to Shakspeare himself,—the poet who is the glory of the English race, and famous throughout the whole of the civilised world. Shakspeare, as we know, is not buried in the Abbey, but in the Parish Church of his native town, Stratford-on-Avon. The monument in the Abbey was not put up until long years after his death. On it are the famous lines from The Tempest—
“The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherits, shall dissolve;
And, like this unsubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind.”
The connexion of Sir Walter Raleigh with the Abbey is not so direct, because he is not buried there, but in St. Margaret’s, close by. However, Raleigh was imprisoned 106in the old Gatehouse of the monastery the night before his execution, and the Dean of Westminster went to see him, and to pray with him. During that last night of his life Sir Walter Raleigh, after the final parting with his wife, wrote the following well-known lines on the blank leaf of his Bible—
“Ev’n such is Time, that takes on trust
Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
And pays us but with age and dust;
Who in the dark and silent grave
When we have wander’d all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days.
But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
The Lord shall raise me up, I trust.”
As the colony of Virginia was first founded by Sir Walter Raleigh, his name will always remind us of the beginning of our great Colonial Empire. In St. Margaret’s Church there is a very fine window to Raleigh’s memory. This was given by some citizens of America, and the scenes in the window commemorate the founding of the New World.
107One of the chief and earliest promoters of the Virginia Company was the brave soldier, Sir John Ogle, who fought in the Netherlands under Sir Francis Vere, and is buried in the Abbey. No inscription marks his grave.
Somewhere in the Abbey is buried another promoter of the South Virginia Company, Richard Hakluyt, author of a book of Voyages and Travels. Hakluyt was a Westminster scholar. He became a clergyman, and was Prebendary and Archdeacon of Westminster. In the first volume of his Voyages and Travels is a description of the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
Two more Elizabethan monuments may be mentioned before we leave the Tudor times altogether. One is the monument to William Camden, the famous antiquary, who was Head-Master of Westminster School in Queen Elizabeth’s time. He is buried in the South Transept, and his monument stands against its western wall. Camden, like Shakspeare, lived on into the Stuart time, 108but he seems to belong more especially to Elizabethan days.
The other monument is perhaps more curious than actually interesting. It is that of Elizabeth Russell, goddaughter of Queen Elizabeth, and daughter of a Lord Russell who is buried in the Chapel of St. Nicholas. Elizabeth Russell was born in the Abbey precincts, where her mother had taken refuge from the plague. She had a very grand christening in the Abbey, and the Earl of Leicester stood as godfather. She died young, and was buried in St. Edmund’s Chapel, where her monument represents her sitting in an osier chair. This is the first sitting figure in the Abbey. A curious old story says that Elizabeth Russell died from the prick of a needle, and people added to the story by saying that she had been working on Sunday! Most likely the idea arose because her finger points to a skull at her feet.
We have spoken of Queen Elizabeth’s having established the Abbey as a Collegiate 109Church, and those who are interested in Westminster may like to know that the first Deans of her time are buried in St. Benedict’s Chapel. These were Dean William Bill and Dean Gabriel Goodman. It was under their rule that the Abbey services were arranged much in their present form.
We have now recalled the chief memories of the Tudor days, so far as that great chapter in English history is recorded in the Abbey.
THE HOUSE OF STUART AND THE COMMONWEALTH
“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils Himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.”
Tennyson (The Passing of Arthur).
From the Tudors and the great people of their reigns we pass on to the House of Stuart, to the troubles of the great Civil War, and to the Restoration of the Stuarts in 1661.
The Abbey history at this time helps us to realise that it was an age of struggle between liberty and despotism, an age when the people were determined to become more and more self-governing. The Tudors had been clever enough and strong enough to rule without making their people discontented. The Stuarts were not wise enough 111to see that the English spirit of independence would not bear any tyrannical form of government, and as the Stuarts found it difficult to understand this, they ended by losing their kingdom altogether. We shall see how all these things left their mark upon the Abbey itself.
As this chapter has to do with a long and eventful time in English history, it will be divided into three parts. The first part will be about the earlier Stuarts; the second, about the Commonwealth; and the third, about the Stuart Restoration and the most famous men of the Stuart and Commonwealth times.
The first of the Stuart family to be laid to rest in the Abbey was Margaret, Countess of Lennox, the mother of Lord Darnley. Margaret was the daughter of the Earl of Angus and of Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII. Her epitaph tells us that she “had to her great-grandfather, King 112Edward IV; to her grandfather, King Henry VII; to her uncle, King Henry VIII; to her cousin-german, King Edward VI; to her brother, King James V of Scotland; to her son (Darnley), King Henry I of Scotland; to her grandchild, King James VI (of Scotland) and I (of England).” This epitaph is again an English history lesson in itself, if we think over it carefully. Margaret’s mother was first married to King James IV of Scotland, and on his death she married the Earl of Angus. Margaret Lennox was thus half-sister to James V of Scotland, and she therefore was a link between the English and Scottish royal houses. She married Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox. Her eldest son, Lord Darnley, married Mary, Queen of Scots, and was called King. Her second son was Charles Stuart, father of the Lady Arabella, of whom we hear so much in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. Margaret died in 1578, and is buried in the south aisle of Henry VII’s Chapel, where she has a very fine tomb. Round the tomb 113are the kneeling figures of her children, Lord Darnley and Charles Stuart among them. Lord Darnley is represented wearing a royal robe, and there are the broken remains of a crown over his head. Charles Stuart is buried here with his mother.
The chief and most interesting Stuart monument in the Abbey is that of Mary, Queen of Scots. This monument is also in the south aisle of Henry VII’s Chapel, and stands above the great Stuart vault, where so many of the Stuart family rest. After Mary’s execution at Fotheringay in 1587, Queen Elizabeth ordered her body to be solemnly buried in Peterborough Cathedral. But when James I came to the throne he commanded that his mother’s remains should be brought to Westminster, and buried in the Abbey. He also said that she was to have a monument equal to that of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, and that the same honour should be paid to her. A copy of the warrant of James I for the removal of his mother’s body hangs on the wall near her 114tomb. Queen Mary was buried at Westminster in 1612, and the splendid monument we now see was erected to her. It is very like Queen Elizabeth’s, only larger and more costly. Her tomb in the Abbey was at one time almost a place of pilgrimage.
In 1607, two little princesses, Mary and Sophia, daughters of James I, died, and were buried near Queen Elizabeth, in the north aisle of Henry VII’s Chapel. Their tombs are also close to the spot where the bones of Edward V and Richard Duke of York were afterwards placed. Dean Stanley used to call this corner of Henry VII’s Chapel “Innocents’ Corner,” because these four children are buried here. Princess Mary was the first of James I’s children born in England, and was therefore the first “Princess of Great Britain.” She was only two and a half years old when she died, and seemed to be wonderfully quick of understanding. When she was dying she kept saying: “I go, I go, away I go.”
The baby Princess Sophia, named after 115her grandmother, the Queen of Denmark, is buried in her pretty cradle-tomb, which is one of the best known in the Abbey. A few years later the eldest brother of these two little girls, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, died, and was buried in the same vault as his grandmother, Mary, Queen of Scots. There was great grief in the country at the death of this promising young prince, who was especially the hope of the Puritan party.
Arabella Stuart, who had such a troubled life, and who was always being suspected of wishing and trying to be made Queen of England, died in 1615, and was buried in the great Stuart vault. Her coffin was placed on the top of the coffin of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Queen Anne of Denmark, wife of James I, died in 1619, and is buried in the central aisle of Henry VII’s Chapel, not far from the tomb of Henry VII himself.
King James the First, who died in 1625, is not buried with any of his own Stuart family, but in the great Tudor vault where Henry VII and Elizabeth of York lie. It is 116supposed that James wished this because the Stuarts claimed the English throne through the House of Tudor. When we think of these two Kings, one really a Welshman and the other a Scotchman, we remember that it was at James I’s succession that the Scottish crown was united to that of England and Wales. The United Kingdom may be said to have been begun then, although the actual formal union did not take place till long afterwards.
We should also remember that our Colonial Empire really began in James I’s reign. Sir Walter Raleigh’s settlement in Virginia had indeed been given up, but in 1607 and 1610, settlements were again made in Virginia and also in Newfoundland. And more important still, it was in James I’s reign that the celebrated “Pilgrim Fathers” sailed from Plymouth in the Mayflower and crossed to America. They landed in Massachusetts Bay, and called their first settlement New Plymouth.
In 1629, the infant Prince Charles, eldest 117child of Charles I, was buried in the Stuart vault, and in 1640, another child of Charles I, the little Princess Anne, was laid there also. Soon after her funeral, the troublous days began, and it was not long before the Abbey passed into Cromwell’s hands.
We must now turn to think of a very different state of things and of very different people, namely, the Parliamentarian Government and the great men of the Commonwealth. Between the years 1653 and 1660 the Parliamentarian Party made great changes in the government and services of the Abbey, and the Presbyterian form of worship was established. Again, as at the time of Henry VIII, various ornaments and other possessions of the church were removed and sold.
Archbishop Laud, one of the chief advisors of Charles I, and a great enemy of the Puritans, was at one time Prebendary of Westminster, and had great influence and authority in 118the Abbey while he was one of the Chapter. In his old age Archbishop Laud was imprisoned for three years, and, sad to say, he was finally executed by order of the Long Parliament.
Many of the famous Parliamentary soldiers and statesmen were buried in the Abbey, as they most of them certainly deserved to be. Whether we like all they did or not, we grieve to think that the bones of these great Englishmen were nearly all taken out of their graves at the time of the Stuart Restoration, and buried in a large pit outside the Abbey walls. To us it seems a mean and unworthy revenge, but perhaps we can hardly understand how angry the Royalists were.
We see, however, that from this time onward it was no longer thought necessary that people must be of royal or noble birth in order to deserve a grave in the Abbey. Any man who had done any especial service to his country and nation, whether in peace or war, was henceforward thought worthy of a place there, and this is just what helps to make the 119Abbey one of the most interesting places in the world.
The chief man of the Parliamentary party to be buried in the Abbey was, of course, Oliver Cromwell himself. He died in 1658, and was buried in Henry VII’s Chapel. Although he was only called Lord Protector, his funeral was very stately, like that of a sovereign. It seems to us a curious thing that Cromwell should have wished that he and his family should be buried in this Chapel, among the royal Tudors and Stuarts, but so it was.
Henry Ireton, son-in-law of Cromwell, and deputy for the Protector in Ireland, died in 1651, and was buried in the Cromwell vault in Henry VII’s Chapel.
John Bradshaw, President of the Council that condemned Charles I to death, died in 1659, and was also buried in the Cromwell vault. Bradshaw had lived for some time at Westminster, the Deanery having been leased to him. An old story says that his ghost used to haunt part of the Triforium.
120These three men, Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw, were always looked upon as the chief regicides, and at the Restoration their bodies were not only dug up, but they were hanged at Tyburn and buried beneath the gallows. The heads were struck off by the executioner, and put up on poles outside Westminster Hall.
Among other well-known names of the Commonwealth times are John Pym and William Strode, who are buried close to one another in the North Ambulatory. Pym was the famous leader of the popular party in the Long Parliament. He died in 1643. Strode was one of the five members whom Charles I demanded to have given up to him when he came to the House of Commons with an armed force in 1641–42.
Another celebrated name is that of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, the great commander of the Parliamentary army. Essex was the son of Queen Elizabeth’s favourite, that Earl of Essex whose death made her last days so miserable. This younger Essex 121died in 1646, and was buried in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist. He had a very splendid funeral, at which his effigy was carried, dressed in his General’s uniform. After the funeral some Royalists broke into the Abbey, stripped the uniform off the effigy, and broke it in revenge for what they considered to be Essex’s treachery. At the Restoration his coffin was not found, so he was fortunately left undisturbed in his grave.
In the same Chapel is buried another great soldier of the time, Colonel Popham, who distinguished himself both on land and sea. His body was allowed to remain in the Abbey, but the inscription was effaced. Popham died in 1651.
Yet another great name is that of Admiral Robert Blake, the first of our naval heroes to be buried in the Abbey. It was Blake who defeated the Dutch Admiral, Van Tromp, off Dungeness in 1652. Five years later he destroyed the Spanish West-Indian fleet off Santa Cruz. Blake died on board his flagship, the George, just before arriving at 122Plymouth after this last victory. He was buried with great solemnity in Henry VII’s Chapel. Blake was re-interred on the north side of the Abbey in 1661, and a window and brass tablet have been erected to his memory in St. Margaret’s Church.
Sir William Constable, once Governor of Gloucester, and one of the men who had signed Charles I’s death-warrant, was buried in the Cromwell vault, as was also Sir Humphrey Mackworth, who had taken Ludlow Castle from the Royalists and was afterwards Governor of Shrewsbury. Colonel Richard Deane, the companion of Blake and Popham, is buried here, and General Worsley, commander of the soldiers who turned out the Long Parliament, lies in a grave not far from the Cromwell vault.
Several of Cromwell’s family were buried in this same Cromwell vault, but the bodies were all taken out at the time of the Restoration except that of his favourite daughter, Elizabeth Claypole, who is buried in a different place, on the north side of Henry VII’s tomb, and whose remains were thus left in peace.
Photo W. Rice, F.R.P.S.
Allen & Co (London) Ltd Sc
Henry VII Chapel.
Tomb of the Founder.
We now come to the time of the Restoration, and must think of the rest of the Stuart family who are buried at Westminster.
King Charles I had been buried in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, and although there had been much talk of moving his body into a splendid tomb in Henry VII’s Chapel, this was never done, and Charles I, like Henry VI, still rests at Windsor.
The first Stuart to be buried in the Abbey after the Restoration was Henry of Oatlands, Duke of Gloucester, son of Charles I. It was Henry who, when he was a little boy, promised his father that he would be torn in pieces before he would let himself be made King instead of either of his elder brothers, Charles or James. He died in 1660, to the great grief of Charles II, who had a very special love for him.
Then came a daughter of Charles I, Mary, 124Princess of Orange, mother of King William III. She also died in 1660. Very soon afterwards, Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, daughter of James I, died, and was buried in the great Stuart vault. She is very closely connected with the later history of England, because her daughter Sophia, who married the Elector of Hanover, was the mother of King George I, and therefore Elizabeth was direct ancestress of King Edward VII. Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice, who fought in the great Civil War, were sons of Elizabeth, and Prince Rupert is buried here beside his mother.
King James II, who died in France in the year 1701, was first buried in the Chapel of the English Benedictines in Paris. It was hoped that his body would at last be brought to Westminster to be buried near the graves of the other Kings of England. But this never happened, and James II was finally buried in the Church of St. Germains, near Paris. His first wife, Anne Hyde, daughter of Lord Clarendon, and mother of the two Stuart Queens, Mary and Anne, died in 1671, 125and is buried in the Abbey, in the vault where Mary, Queen of Scots, rests. Many children of James II are buried there also. But the son of his second wife, Mary of Modena, the Prince James whom many people thought the rightful successor to the throne, is buried in another great St. Peter’s—St. Peter’s at Rome. Not only is James—the Chevalier de St. George, as he was called—buried in St. Peter’s, but also his wife and his two sons, Charles Edward (Prince Charlie) and Henry Benedict, Cardinal of York. With the Cardinal of York the male line of James II ended, and we go back to his two daughters, Mary and Anne.
William III and Mary II are both buried in the Abbey, near the other Stuarts. Queen Mary’s funeral was a very solemn and mournful one, and she was much lamented by her subjects.
Queen Anne and her husband, Prince George of Denmark, are buried close by, and Queen Anne’s eighteen infant children are buried in the great Stuart vault under the 126monument of Mary, Queen of Scots. Only one of Queen Anne’s children lived for any time, and that was William, Duke of Gloucester, who died in 1700, aged eleven, “of a fever occasioned by excessive dancing on his birthday.”
There are a few other relations of the Stuart family buried in the Abbey, but with Queen Anne the Stuart history really ends so far as the Abbey is concerned. None of the Stuart Kings have any monuments.
We must now call to mind some of the chief men of the Stuart times whose graves are at Westminster. The greatest contemporaries of James I, Lord Bacon and Shakspeare, are not buried in the Abbey. Lord Bacon is buried at Verulam; and although Shakspeare has a monument in the Abbey, he is not buried there, but, by his own desire, at his own native Stratford.
When we think of the reigns of James I and Charles I, we often recall the name of a man who was a great friend and favourite of both these Kings. This man is George 127Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, whom James I used to call by the silly name of “Steenie.” While we speak of Buckingham, we remember that he had a great deal to do with preventing Charles I’s marriage to a Spanish Infanta, and with bringing about his marriage with Henrietta Maria of France. We also think of Buckingham’s unsuccessful attempts to relieve La Rochelle, where the Huguenots were besieged by Cardinal Richelieu, and in this way the French history of that time seems to be brought very close to the Abbey.
As everyone knows, the Duke of Buckingham was murdered at Portsmouth in 1628, and he was buried in great state in Henry VII’s Chapel, where a splendid monument was erected to him. Several of the Duke’s family are buried in the same vault, and among them a young son, Francis, who was killed in the Civil Wars, at the Battle of Kingston.
Sir George Villiers and his wife, the father and mother of the Duke of Buckingham, are buried beneath a large monument in the 128Chapel of St. Nicholas. It is said that the last meeting between the Duke of Buckingham and his mother was a very sad and troubled one, as they had both received a mysterious warning that some terrible thing was going to happen to the Duke. When the Duke was murdered six months afterwards, his mother appeared quite calm, as if she had been prepared to hear the dreadful news.
Dudley Carleton and Lord Cottington, two men who held important offices under the Stuarts, are buried in St. Paul’s Chapel. Dudley Carleton was educated at Westminster School, and became first Secretary of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs. He was actually with the Duke of Buckingham when he was assassinated, and saw the murder. It was Carleton who saved the murderer, Felton, from being torn in pieces by the angry soldiers.
Lord Cottington was an able and accomplished man. He was ambassador in Spain under James I, Charles I, and again under Charles II.
129Another well-known name of that time is that of Sir Thomas Richardson, who was Lord Chief Justice in the time of Charles I. It was Sir Thomas Richardson who had to tell Charles I that torture was illegal, when the King wished to use it after the death of Buckingham. Sir Thomas used to be called the “jeering Lord Chief Justice,” because of the sarcastic things he used to say. For example, when he condemned Prynne, he said that “he might have the Book of Martyrs to amuse him in prison.”
We have already spoken about the burials of the great men of the Commonwealth, and must speak of some of the famous people of the later Stuart times after the Restoration.
The great Lord Clarendon, father of James II’s first wife, and therefore grandfather of Queen Mary and Queen Anne, is buried near the steps of Henry VII’s Chapel. Every one will remember the name of his famous book, The History of the Great Rebellion.
130In Henry VII’s Chapel, not far from the tomb of Queen Elizabeth, is buried General Monck, the man who had so much to do with the Restoration of the Stuart Kings. He was made Duke of Albemarle by Charles II. His funeral was very stately, and a large monument was put up to him close to the graves of the Stuart sovereigns, whom he had helped to bring back to England.
There are several graves and monuments in the Abbey which remind us of the great sea-fights with the Dutch that were going on just at this time.
One of these is the monument to Edward Montague, Earl of Sandwich, who took such a great part in the victory over De Ruyter off Sole Bay in 1672. Lord Sandwich’s ship was somehow set on fire; it blew up, and he perished with it. He was buried in General Monck’s vault in Henry VII’s Chapel. Two young lieutenants, Sir Charles Harbord and Clement Cottrell, who died with Lord Sandwich, are commemorated in the Nave.
131Another distinguished sailor, Sir Freschville Holles, was also killed in the engagement off Sole Bay, and is buried in St. Edmund’s Chapel. Sir Freschville Holles had been knighted by Charles II after the naval victory over the Dutch off Lowestoft in 1665. Five other officers, who were all killed in this battle off Lowestoft, are buried in the North Ambulatory.
Admiral Sir Edward Spragge and a young lieutenant called Richard Le Neve, who were killed in a sea-fight with Van Tromp in the year 1673, are also buried in the Abbey.
Another name we ought to remember is that of Sir Palmes Fairborne, Governor of Tangier, who was killed when defending Tangier against the Moors in 1680. His monument is in the Nave, and reminds us that Tangier once belonged to England, having been part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II. Sir Palmes Fairborne was buried at Tangier.
The Battle of the Boyne in the reign of William III is brought to our minds when 132we look at the monument of General Philipps in the North Transept. General Philipps fought on William III’s side in that battle. He lived to a great age, and was Governor of Nova Scotia from 1720 to 1740.
In the Nave there is a monument to Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy, who distinguished himself in the naval war of Queen Anne’s reign, and fought under Admiral Rooke at Cadiz in 1702. Sir Thomas Hardy did not die until 1732, but he really belongs to these later Stuart times. The taking of Gibraltar in 1704 is recalled to our minds later on by the memorials to Richard Kane and Coote Manningham. Kane held Gibraltar for eight months against the Spaniards in George I’s reign.
We must now turn to some of the graves and monuments connected with the great French war of Queen Anne’s reign—the War of the Spanish Succession, as it was called.
The body of the great Duke of Marlborough, the victorious General at the 133Battles of Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde, and Malplaquet, was buried in the Abbey in 1722, and removed to the Chapel at Blenheim Palace twenty-four years afterwards. The Duke’s first grave was in Henry VII’s Chapel, in the vault where Cromwell, Ireton, Bradshaw, and others had lain.
In the Nave are monuments to General Killigrew, who was killed at the Battle of Almanza in 1707, to Colonel Bringfield, who was killed at Ramillies in 1706, and to Major Creed, who was killed at Blenheim in 1704.
In the North Ambulatory is a monument to Earl Ligonier, one of Queen Anne’s Generals, who fought under Marlborough, and was at the Battle of Blenheim. Lord Ligonier belonged to an old Huguenot family from the south of France, and he, with some other distinguished Huguenots who are buried in the Abbey, came over to England about the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, when the Protestant worship was forbidden in France, 134and many Huguenots took refuge in England. Earl Ligonier died in 1770.
Another hero of the Dutch and French wars rests in the Abbey, and that is Sir Cloudesley Shovel, one of the greatest naval commanders of the time. His monument is rather curious, and represents him wearing Roman armour and a wig such as was in fashion in his own day. The story of his death is a very dreadful one. The Admiral had helped in the almost entire destruction of the French Mediterranean squadron in 1707, and was sailing for home when a violent gale drove his ship on to the rocks off the Scilly Isles. The ship was wrecked, and Sir Cloudesley Shovel was washed ashore, bruised and unconscious, but not quite dead. Thirty years afterwards a fisherman’s wife confessed that she had found the body, and that for the sake of a valuable emerald ring the Admiral wore she had actually killed him.
In the Nave is a curious tablet in memory of Admiral Baker, who was second in command 135to Sir Cloudesley Shovel, and brought the rest of the ships home after Sir Cloudesley’s flagship was lost. Admiral Baker was afterwards Governor of the Island of Minorca, which at that time belonged to England. He died in Minorca in 1716, and is buried there. Minorca had been added to our possessions by the first Earl Stanhope, who did distinguished service in the War of the Spanish Succession. He and three other of the Earls Stanhope have a monument on the Choir Screen, opposite to that of Sir Isaac Newton.
We must now look back through all the Stuart and Commonwealth time, and say a few words about the poets and other writers who belong to those days, and who are buried in the Abbey.
Ben Jonson, the celebrated poet and play-writer, and a contemporary of Shakspeare, is buried in the Nave, and has a monument in Poets’ Corner. On the monument is the well-known inscription: “O rare Ben Jonson!” Ben Jonson was born near 136Westminster; he was educated at Westminster School, and during his last years he lived close to the Abbey. He died in 1637, in a little house in St. Margaret’s Churchyard. There are one or two famous stories about Ben Jonson asking for a grave in the Abbey. One story says that he begged for eighteen inches of square ground in the Abbey from Charles I. Another says that in a conversation with the Dean he said he was too poor to have a full-length grave. “No sir, six feet long by two feet wide is too much for me. Two feet by two feet will do all I want.” “You shall have it,” said the Dean, and thus the conversation ended. Whether these curious stories are true or not, it is the fact that Ben Jonson was buried standing up. This was discovered when Sir Robert Wilson’s grave was being made in 1849.
Looking round Poets’ Corner, we find the names of the following poets:—
Michael Drayton, author of the Polyolbion, who died in 1631. The beautiful epitaph is said to be by either Ben Jonson or Francis Quarles.
137Abraham Cowley, who died in 1667. He had a very grand funeral in the Abbey, which was attended by many distinguished people. Cowley was educated at Westminster School, and he was a devoted Royalist.
Sir William Davenant, the Cavalier, who succeeded Ben Jonson as Poet-Laureate in Charles I’s time. He died in 1668.
John Dryden, Poet-Laureate to Charles II and James II. He was educated at Westminster School under the famous Headmaster, Dr. Busby. Dryden began by being a great admirer of Cromwell, but afterwards he became a strong Royalist and held several offices under the crown after the Restoration. He died in 1700, in great poverty, and is buried near Chaucer. His best known poems are perhaps the Ode on “Alexander’s Feast” and the “Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day.” His political satires “Absalom and Achitophel” and “The Hind and the Panther” were the works which made his fame in his own day.
138On the south wall of Poets’ Corner is a small monument to Samuel Butler, the author of a famous satire on the Puritans, called Hudibras. Samuel Butler lived from the reign of James I until after the Restoration, and died in 1680.
Francis Beaumont, who wrote plays with John Fletcher, is buried close to Poets’ Corner with his brother, Sir John Beaumont, who was also a poet. He died in 1616.
But, as we all know, far the greatest poet of those days was John Milton, whose monument is not far from the grave of Spenser.
Milton is not buried in the Abbey, but in St. Giles’ Cripplegate. As the Abbey was always strongly Royalist, it was a long time before Milton’s name was allowed even to appear on its walls, Milton having been so prominent on the Parliamentarian side. Not even Paradise Lost could make them altogether forget his Puritan sympathies. However, in 1738, the monument we now see in Poets’ Corner was put up by a certain 139William Benson, who belonged to the Whig party in politics. Thus one of the greatest English poets came at last by his own.
When speaking of Milton we are reminded of one of our best English musicians, Henry Lawes, who wrote the music to Comus, and who is buried in the cloisters. His brother, William Lawes, was a member of the Abbey choir.
A fine bust of the well-known composer, Orlando Gibbons, has quite lately been placed in the Abbey, in that North Aisle of the Choir which is known as the “Musicians’ Aisle.” Orlando Gibbons was appointed organist of the Abbey in 1623. His son, Christopher Gibbons, was the first organist of the Abbey after the Restoration, and was a favourite of Charles II. He is buried in the Cloisters.
Close by is the grave of Henry Purcell, who is perhaps our greatest English composer. He belongs entirely to the Stuart times, and his life was spent at Westminster. He was organist of the Abbey 140and composed some of our finest English Church music, besides other things. He died in 1695, at about the same age as Mozart, Schubert, and Mendelssohn, that is, 37. Above his grave is a tablet with an epitaph said to have been written by Dryden. It runs as follows:—
“Here lies Henry Purcell, Esq., who left this life, and is gone to that blessed place where only his Harmony can be exceeded.”
Two other well-known Church musicians of the Stuart times are buried in this aisle; these are Dr. John Blow and Dr. William Croft, who were both organists at the Abbey.
All English children will like to know that there is very soon to be a window in the Abbey to John Bunyan, author of the Pilgrim’s Progress. The window will commemorate his life and works.
Another remarkable writer of the Stuart and Commonwealth times, that learned and holy man, Richard Baxter, author of the Saint’s Everlasting Rest, has no memorial in the Abbey, but he is known to have 141preached one of his finest sermons here in 1654, and this is very interesting to remember.
The grave of Sir Robert Moray, First President of the Royal Society, reminds us of the beginning of that great Society during the reigns of the later Stuart Kings. Sir Robert Moray was both a soldier and a man of science. Burnet calls him “the wisest and worthiest man of his age.” He died in 1673.
The only painter who has a monument in the Abbey belongs to Stuart times. This is Sir Godfrey Kneller, a celebrated portrait painter in the reigns of Charles II, James II, William III, and Queen Anne. He was a Westphalian by birth. He died in 1723, and was buried in the garden of his house at Whitton. Kneller did not want to be buried in the Abbey; for, he said: “they do bury fools there.”
Another interesting remembrance of these troubled Stuart days is the monument in the Cloisters to Sir Edmond Berry Godfrey. He was the Judge to whom Titus Oates 142professed to reveal the Popish plot of 1678. Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey’s death was rather mysterious, and it was supposed, though not on good foundation, that he had been murdered by some one connected with the plot.
We must mention one more grave in the Abbey itself. This is the grave of the wonderful old Thomas Parr,—“old Parr” as he used to be called. He died in 1635, and always claimed that he had been born in 1483. He is buried in the South Transept, and his epitaph says that “He lived in the reignes of ten princes, namely: King Edward IV, King Edward V, King Richard III, King Henry VII, King Henry VIII, King Edward VI, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, King James, King Charles; aged 152 years, and was buried here, 1635.”
We have now mentioned most of the principal people of the Stuart and Commonwealth times who are in any way connected with the Abbey, and must pass on to the history of the House of Hanover.
[W. Rice, F.R.P.S.
MONUMENT OF GENERAL WOLFE.
THE HOUSE OF HANOVER AND THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
“We were dreamers, dreaming greatly, in the man-stifled town;
We yearned beyond the sky-line where the strange roads go down.
Came the Whisper, came the Vision, came the Power with the Need,
Till the Soul that is not man’s soul was lent us to lead.”
Rudyard Kipling (The Seven Seas).
At the death of Queen Anne a great change took place in the reigning family. The people would not have Queen Anne’s brother, Prince James, for their King, because he was a Roman Catholic, but there were many plans and plots in his favour, as we have heard. And even here again the Abbey plays a part in it all, for the famous Dean of Westminster, Francis Atterbury, was 144concerned in these Jacobite plots. It is said, indeed, that on Queen Anne’s death he had been ready to go to Charing Cross to proclaim James III, but James and his friends somehow let their opportunity slip, and instead of James III, George I was proclaimed. Later on it was discovered that Jacobite plots still went on at the Westminster Deanery, and Dean Atterbury was imprisoned and then exiled in France, where he died in 1731–32. He is buried in the Abbey, close to the Deanery entrance in the Nave, and, as he wished, “as far from Kings and Cæsars as the space will admit of.”
George I, in spite of his mother’s descent from the Stuarts, was really a foreigner, and he is buried in his native town of Hanover, just as the first Norman King is buried at Caen, and the first Plantagenet Kings at Fontevrault.
George II, and his wife, Caroline of Anspach, are buried in Henry’s VII’s Chapel, straight in front of Edward VI’s grave. Queen Caroline died in 1737, and George II in 1451760. They are the last sovereigns buried at Westminster. Since that time the Kings and Queens of England have been buried at Windsor and in the new Mausoleum at Frogmore, where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert rest.
At the funeral of Queen Caroline the choir sang the beautiful anthem which had just been composed by Handel, “When the ear heard her, then it blessed her.” It was King George’s special wish that his ashes should mingle with his wife’s, and therefore the two coffins are placed in one large sarcophagus. There is no monument; only the names on the stones above.
It is interesting to remember that George II was the last English sovereign to be present at a battle. During the years 1740 to 1748 several of the nations of Europe were fighting in what was called the War of the Austrian Succession. This war was really caused by Frederick the Great of Prussia and other German sovereigns trying to get various possessions away from the Empress 146Maria Theresa of Austria. England took the Austrian side, and George II himself joined the army at the Battle of Dettingen, in 1743. The English and their allies were victorious. Handel composed his famous “Dettingen Te Deum” for the thanksgiving after the victory.
Several other members of the Hanoverian Royal House are buried in the central aisle of Henry VII’s Chapel. Among them are the following: Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales (son of George II), and his wife, Augusta Princess of Wales, the father and mother of King George III.
William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, third son of George II, is also buried here. The Duke of Cumberland was a brave soldier, but his severity to the Scotch Jacobites after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 earned him the name of “the Butcher.” The Scotch, who had been fighting for Prince Charlie, were mercilessly slaughtered, and this cruelty has never been quite forgotten.
There are several other monuments in the 147Abbey to remind us of the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Such, for instance, is the monument to Marshal Wade, on the south side of the Nave. Marshal Wade was commander-in-chief of the army which was sent to quell the rebellion, and he was the man who made the great military roads through the Highlands spoken of in the well-known rhyme—
“If you’d seen these roads before they were made
You would hold up your hands and bless Marshal Wade.”
Two other soldiers who fought at Culloden, General Guest and Colonel Webb, are buried in the East Cloister. General Guest, who has a monument in the North Transept, defended Edinburgh against the rebels in 1745.
There is a tablet to Colonel Webb in the East Cloister.
Just at this time France declared war upon England, and took up the cause of Prince Charles Edward. In 1745 a battle was fought at Fontenoy, in Flanders. The English and their allies were under the command of the Duke of Cumberland, but their army was much smaller than the 148French army, and although they made a gallant attempt, they had to retreat. In the Westminster Cloisters there is a monument to two brave soldier-brothers of the name of Duroure, one of whom was killed at Fontenoy.
The naval victories over the French won by Admiral Anson and Admiral Hawke in 1747 are recorded on the Abbey walls by the monuments of Captain Philip Saumarez and Sir Charles Saunders, who both fought in the action off Finisterre. We shall meet with Sir Charles Saunders’s name again later on.
The monument to Admiral Vernon, at the end of the North Transept, tells us of the war with Spain in 1737–40, and of the English victories at Porto Bello and Cartagena. In the North Transept aisle is a monument to Lord Aubrey Beauclerk, who was killed in 1740, on Admiral Vernon’s expedition to Cartagena. And again, we are reminded of the fights with the Spanish fleet in the West Indies when we look at the monuments to Admiral Wager and Sir Peter 149Warren, which are also both in the North Transept. Sir Peter Warren’s monument is a very fanciful one. It was made by the French sculptor, Roubiliac, the sculptor of the well-known Nightingale Monument in the Chapel of St. Michael. Roubiliac has actually represented the marks of smallpox on the face of Sir Peter Warren’s bust!
Sir Peter Warren’s nephew, Admiral Tyrrell, has a monument in the Nave. Tyrrell once defeated three French men-of-war single-handed, while he was commanding the Buckingham. He died in 1766, and is buried at sea.
Close to the entrance of the former Baptistery is the huge monument to Captain James Cornewall, who was killed in a great fight with the Spanish-French fleet off Toulon early in 1744. This monument was the first which was erected by Parliament in honour of a distinguished sailor.
In 1756 began the Seven Years’ War, between Prussia on one side, and Austria, France, Russia, Poland, Saxony, and Sweden 150on the other. These countries wanted to break up the kingdom of Prussia, which was becoming very powerful under Frederick the Great. Now, England was already at war with France, and she took the side of Prussia. The Duke of Cumberland, of whom we have already heard a good deal, was in command of the army in Hanover. At first, things seemed to be going very badly for England, but the tide turned when William Pitt, “the Great Commoner,” as he was called, became War Minister. William Pitt was indeed the foremost man in England’s history at this time, for not only did he strengthen our position in Europe, but it was he who slowly built up our world-wide Empire. He was created Earl of Chatham in 1766, and died in 1778. All this is most interesting and important to remember when we are in the Abbey, because this great English statesman is buried in the North Transept—Statesmen’s Corner, as it began to be called. Pitt’s monument is close to the North Transept door. High up you will see the figure and keen, eagle face of Lord Chatham, who is represented as if speaking to a large audience, his arm outstretched as though to make his words the more impressive, reminding us that he was a great orator as well as statesman. Perhaps he looked like this when he made his impassioned protests against the unjust taxation of the American colonies.
MONUMENT OF THE EARL OF CHATHAM.
151The Seven Years’ War ended with the Peace of Paris in 1763, but meanwhile there had been a great deal of fighting, chiefly at sea, with the French and Spaniards. Many of these battles went on in the West Indies, where England was victorious. One of our successes, the taking of Havana from Spain in 1762, is brought back to our minds by the monuments to Admiral Pocock and Rear-Admiral Harrison. Admiral Pocock was commander-in-chief of the expedition, and conveyed Lord Albemarle and his troops to Havana.
Another of the great events in our history during the eighteenth century was the conquest of Canada from the French, a conquest 152always connected with the name of General Wolfe, who was killed at the taking of Quebec in 1759. There is a very large and, sad to say, very ugly monument to General Wolfe in the Abbey. It is in the North Ambulatory, and makes a great contrast to the splendid and beautiful Plantagenet tombs just opposite to it. However, the monument is very interesting, because the whole scene of Wolfe’s death is represented on it. The group of figures shows Wolfe mortally wounded, and hearing, just before his death, that his soldiers were putting the enemy to flight. Below this group is a bronze bas-relief representing the Heights of Abraham, which had been scaled by the British, and also the landing of the British troops from the river St. Lawrence. So important was Wolfe’s victory that, in the following year, the English had won all Canada.
Admiral Sir Charles Saunders has already been mentioned, and his grave in the Islip Chapel reminds us, not only of his services in the French war, but also of his share in the 153conquest of Canada, for he was commander-in-chief of the fleet which carried General Wolfe and his soldiers to the mouth of the St. Lawrence. Another Admiral, Charles Holmes, who served with Saunders at the taking of Quebec, has a memorial in the Nave. Viscount Howe and Colonel Townshend, who both fell at Ticonderoga during this same Canadian War, have memorials in the Abbey. Viscount Howe was the elder brother of the great Admiral, Lord Howe. His monument was put up by the people of Massachusetts a short time before the American colonies separated from the Mother Country.
General Adrian Hope, one of the first English Governors of Quebec, has a monument in the North Transept.
This is perhaps a good place in which to speak of another man who did a great deal for our Colonial Empire, namely, George Montague Dunk, Earl of Halifax, whose monument is also in the North Transept. He was a prominent statesman in the reigns 154of George II and George III, and he did so much for commerce in America that he was called the “Father of the Colonies.” He had also a great deal to do with the founding of the colony of Nova Scotia, and its capital, Halifax, is named after him. He died in 1771.
But we must now turn to quite another part of the world, and think of what was going on in India. Just about this time, or a little earlier, Clive had made the conquest of Bengal, and we find much to remind us of this in the Abbey.
At the end of the North Transept aisle is the monument—a terribly ugly one—put up by the East India Company to the memory of Admiral Watson, who helped Clive to recapture Calcutta from the cruel Suraj-ad-Dowlah, the man who shut up the Europeans in the “Black Hole of Calcutta,” of which every one has heard. Watson also helped Clive to take Chandernagore. He died in 1757, the year of the Battle of Plassey, and the year after the taking of Calcutta.
155Major-General Stringer Lawrence, who defended Trichinopoly against the French in 1753–54, has a monument in the Nave. In the North Transept, again, is the monument to Sir Eyre Coote, who drove out the French from the Coromandel coast, and took Pondicherry in 1761.
Another monument in the North Transept reminds us of a famous man who is connected with the Anglo-Indian history of the time. This is Warren Hastings. It is true that he properly belongs to a rather later date, but as he has so much to do with India we will speak of him now. Warren Hastings was the first Governor-General of the British possessions in India, and was appointed to that post in 1773. He did a great deal to save the British Empire in India. It was while Warren Hastings was Governor-General that Hyder Ali and son, Tippoo Saib, rose against the English, and Hastings put down the rebellion. Unhappily, his enemies accused him of wrongful exactions of money, and when Warren Hastings returned to England 156he was impeached before the House of Lords on charges of cruelty and oppression towards the natives of India. The trial went on for years, and Hastings was finally acquitted. The expenses of the trial left him penniless, but the East India Company granted him a pension, and he spent his remaining years in retirement at his own home at Daylesford. He is not buried in the Abbey, but he has a special connection with Westminster, because he was educated at Westminster School. Hastings died in 1818.
In the North Transept is a statue of Sir John Malcolm, another soldier who greatly distinguished himself in the various wars in India during Clive’s time. He was sent as Envoy to Persia in 1799, being the first English Envoy sent there since the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He was finally Governor of Bombay in 1830, and died in 1833.
As we know, the disturbances in India went on for some long time, in spite of English victories under General Lake and Sir Arthur Wellesley (afterwards Duke of Wellington). 157Wellesley’s great victory in this war was at the Battle of Assaye, in 1803.
Again, all English people, young and old, know about the war in which we lost our American colonies during George III’s reign, and there are several monuments in the Abbey to bring the story of it back to our minds.
General Burgoyne, whose surrender at Saratoga lost America to England, is buried in the North Cloister. Near him is buried Colonel Enoch Markham, who served throughout the same war. In the Abbey itself is the famous monument of Major André, who was hanged as a spy by the Americans in 1780. André had gone on a secret mission to the American General, Arnold, who betrayed a fortress on the Hudson River to the British. On his way back from the meeting André was taken, and, in spite of every effort to save him from a traitor’s death, he was hanged by order of General Washington, and was buried under the gallows on the banks of the Hudson. Forty years later his body was 158removed, at the request of the Duke of York, and was finally buried in the Abbey. Some locks of his beautiful hair still remained, and these were sent to his sisters. The chest in which André’s bones were sent home is still in the Islip Chantry. His monument is in the south aisle of the Nave, and the head of his figure has more than once been broken off and taken away, either by people with strong political feelings on one side or the other, or else by some mischievous schoolboy. There is a famous story of Charles Lamb half accusing Southey of having carried off André’s head. Southey did not like this, and it was a long time before he quite forgot it.
The war with the American colonies is thought to have broken Lord Chatham’s heart. Every one remembers the last scene in his public life—a scene represented in a famous picture—when Lord Chatham came to the House of Lords to make one last protest against a policy which meant the loss of the American colonies. During his 159speech he fell to the ground in a fit, and died a few weeks afterwards.
The French wars in the later part of the eighteenth century have a memorial in the Abbey in the enormous monument to the three captains, Bayne, Blair, and Lord Robert Manners, in the North Transept. These three captains fell in 1782, at Admiral Rodney’s victorious fight with the French off Guadaloupe in the West Indies. In St. Michael’s Chapel is another memorial of the same wars in the monument which tells of the death of Admiral Kempenfelt in the shipwreck of the Royal George at Spithead in 1782.
Again, Lord Howe’s famous victory over the French off Ushant, on June 1st, 1794, has left its mark on the Abbey in the monuments of Captains Hardy and Hutt, and of Captain Montagu, which are both in the Nave.
In the reign of George I there was a terrible happening which caused great misery throughout England, and which has never 160been forgotten. This was what was called the South Sea Bubble,—that is, the failure of the South Sea Company. We are reminded of this disgraceful business even in the Abbey, because of the grave and monument of the poet Craggs, who was mixed up with it. Craggs is buried in Henry VII’s Chapel, and his monument is in the Baptistery.
As we are now coming quite close to the end of the eighteenth century it will be best to turn back and think of some of the great writers, men of science, musicians and others, who belonged to that time and are either buried or commemorated in the Abbey.
We will begin with Joseph Addison, the author of many beautiful essays in the Spectator and the Tatler. He died in 1719, and was buried in Henry VII’s Chapel, in the same aisle as the Tudor Queens. His statue is in Poets’ Corner. Addison’s beautiful hymn, “The spacious firmament on high,” is sometimes sung in the Abbey, and 161ought to be well known to all English children.
Now we come to the great Sir Isaac Newton, the famous mathematician and philosopher, who discovered the law of gravitation. He died in 1727, and was buried in the Nave, close to the Screen. He had a very stately funeral, at which a great number of distinguished men were present. The famous French writer, Voltaire, was there as a spectator. The monument is quite near the grave, and is meant to represent Newton’s discoveries. It is not the sort of monument we care about now, and the inscription on the gravestone below is much better: “Here lies all that was mortal of Isaac Newton.”
James Thomson, who wrote a poem called The Seasons, has a monument in Poets’ Corner. He died in George II’s reign, and is buried in Richmond Parish Church.
Sir Richard Steele, a famous essay writer of the time, is brought to our memory by 162the grave of his second wife in Poets’ Corner.
John Gay, author of the Fables, which were written for the education of the Duke of Cumberland, was buried in Poets’ Corner in 1732. His monument is over the door into St. Faith’s Chapel, and on it are carved these curious lines—
“Life is a jest, and all things show it;
I thought so once, and now I know it.”
Thomas Gray, who wrote the famous Elegy in a Country Churchyard, has a monument in Poets’ Corner, but he is buried in the beautiful churchyard at Stoke Pogis, which he loved so well. Gray’s poem is so celebrated that a learned Italian has lately made a very beautiful translation of it into his lovely native tongue. Gray died in 1771.
Oliver Goldsmith, author of the Vicar of Wakefield, the Deserted Village, and She Stoops to Conquer, died in 1774, and was buried in the Temple Churchyard. He has a monument in Poets’ Corner, and 163the Latin epitaph on it was written by the great Dr. Johnson.
Dr. Samuel Johnson, author of the Lives of the Poets, Rasselas, and the famous English Dictionary, died in 1784, and is buried in the Abbey at the foot of Shakspeare’s monument, close to David Garrick, the great actor, who had died four years before. Dr. Johnson’s only monument is his gravestone. Garrick has a rather foolish looking monument on the western wall of the South Transept.
Near Shakspeare’s monument is the bust of Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, who died in 1796.
A window in the former Baptistery commemorates two well known English poets who were both educated at Westminster School. These are George Herbert, who really belongs to the Stuart times, and William Cowper, who died in 1800. George Herbert’s poems are all on sacred subjects, and Cowper wrote some of the hymns which are very familiar to us all. But 164Cowper also wrote other things, some of the best known of his poems being the Task and John Gilpin. This window was given to the Abbey by Mr. Childs, of Philadelphia.
One of the greatest names of the eighteenth century is that of the famous musician, George Frederick Handel, the composer of the “Messiah” and many other splendid works. He died in 1759 and was buried in Poets’ Corner. His monument is by Roubiliac, and represents Handel holding the music of his famous song, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” Just below his monument is a medallion in memory of the great Swedish singer, Jenny Lind-Goldschmidt, who died in 1889, and who used to sing that very song so finely. The same words are carved on her monument also.
When Charles Dickens was buried in 1870, the coffin of Handel was seen by those who were present at the funeral.
While we are speaking of musicians it 165will be interesting to note that Dr. Burney, author of the well-known History of Music, has a monument in the Musicians’ aisle.
The monuments to Dr. Isaac Watts, the well-known hymn-writer, and to John and Charles Wesley, are in the South Choir aisle, and bring back the memory of men who did great work in the eighteenth century, work that still has much influence in England.
Several of the eminent doctors of the eighteenth century are buried in the Abbey. Such are Richard Mead, physician to George II, who died in 1754; Dr. John Freind, a favourite of George II and Queen Caroline, who died in 1728; and Dr. Hugh Chamberlen, who also died in 1728.
Another man who was famous in a very different way was James Watt, the inventor of the steam-engine. He has a monument in St. Paul’s Chapel. It is of giant size, and actually broke down the pavement in the 166Chapel when it was brought in. Watt died in 1819.
William Horneck, one of the earliest of our great English engineers, is buried in the South Transept, and has a memorial tablet in the North-West Tower. He died in 1746.
We will add to our list of eighteenth century men the names of two inventors, who are buried side by side in the Nave. These are (1) Thomas Tompion, who died in 1713. He was called the “Father of English Watch-making,” because of the many improvements he introduced in the art of making clocks and watches. (2) George Graham, who died in 1751, nephew and pupil of Tompion. He invented a curious astronomical instrument called the “Orrery,” so named after Lord Orrery, who is also buried in the Abbey.
In the North Transept there is a monument to Jonas Hanway, a philanthropist and traveller, who died in 1786. Hanway was so kind, and worked so hard to help those who were less fortunate than himself, that 167he was called “the friend and father of the poor.” He is said to have been the first person in England who ever carried an umbrella. It seems curious that such a useful invention was not made until the eighteenth century.
In the West Cloister is a monument to Dr. Benjamin Cooke, who died in 1793, having been organist of the Abbey for thirty years. In the North Aisle of the Choir are the grave and monument of Dr. Samuel Arnold, a well-known Church musician, who succeeded Dr. Cooke as organist of the Abbey, and died in 1802.
Two famous engravers, William Woollett, who died in 1785, and George Vertue, who died in 1756, have monuments in the West Cloister. Vertue is buried in the North Cloister, near one of his family, who was a monk.
Several well-known actors and actresses of the eighteenth century are also buried in the Cloisters.
THE NINETEENTH AND TWENTIETH CENTURIES
—”our slowly grown
And crown’d Republic.”
Tennyson (To the Queen).
It is very difficult properly to divide the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, because, of course, history does not cut itself up into lengths of a hundred years. But in telling the story of a place like the Abbey it is better to have some division, and as the French Revolution took place nearly at the end of the eighteenth century, a kind of natural division comes at that time, for we know that the French Revolution made a great and lasting change all over Europe.
STATUE OF WILLIAM WILBERFORCE.
169When we begin to speak of the early nineteenth century we have again to think of wars, for the fights with Napoleon were still going on. Nelson’s great victories have not left much record in the Abbey, excepting the wax effigy of the great Admiral himself, of which we will speak later. One of Nelson’s Captains, Edward Cooke, has a monument in the Abbey. Cooke died of a wound which he received during a victorious fight with a French frigate in the Bay of Bengal in 1799.
When we think of these wars with Napoleon there is one grave in the Abbey which at once comes to our mind. It is that of the younger William Pitt, son of the great Earl of Chatham, of whom we read in the last chapter. William Pitt became Prime Minister of England when he was only twenty-three, and his ministry lasted through some years of a very troubled and anxious time. In spite of Nelson’s victories he was so crushed by Napoleon’s victory over the Austrians and Russians at Austerlitz in December 1805, that he died shortly afterwards, worn out with anxiety and 170disappointment. He was buried in the same vault with his father, and he had a large monument put up to him over the great West Door. He was only forty-six when he died, and it seems sad to think that he should not have lived to see his country’s victories in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo.
A further memorial of these wars is the bust of the Corsican patriot, Pasquale de’ Paoli, who fought against Napoleon for the independence of Corsica, and finally took refuge in England. His monument brings back an interesting bit of English history, namely, that for a short time, from 1794 to 1797, Corsica was under British rule.
The war known as the Peninsular War began in 1808. England was helping Spain against Napoleon, who had dethroned the King of Spain and made his own brother, Joseph, King instead. The Spaniards rose in arms, and drove Joseph Buonaparte out of Madrid. They appealed to England for help, and Sir Arthur Wellesley went out with 17110,000 men. He defeated the French at Roliça, a victory which is commemorated in the Abbey by the tablet to Lieutenant-Colonel George Lake, who fell in that battle.
The next year, 1809, was famous for the Battle of Corunna, where Sir John Moore defeated the French and lost his own life. One of the officers who fought at the Battle of Corunna, General Coote Manningham, has a memorial in the North Transept. The services of Wellington’s chief engineer, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Richard Fletcher, who died in 1813, are recalled by a tablet to his memory in the North-West Tower. Fletcher directed the engineering works during the sieges of Badajos, and commanded the assault on the fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo, when these fortresses were taken and held against the French by Wellington in 1812. He was killed in an assault on the town of St. Sebastian. In the Nave is buried Sir John Leith, another soldier who fought in this war and greatly distinguished himself. He fought at Corunna, Badajos, 172and Salamanca. He died in 1816, in the West Indies, where he was in command of the forces.
There are memorial tablets in the Abbey to three other officers who fell in the Peninsular War. One is to Captain Bryan, who fell in the Battle of Talavera in 1809, when Sir Arthur Wellesley defeated King Joseph Buonaparte and Marshals Victor and Jourdan; the second is to a Lieutenant Beresford, who was killed at Ciudad Rodrigo in 1812; and the third is to Lieutenant-Colonel Macleod, who fell at the siege of Badajos, also in 1812.
In the Nave is buried a famous Admiral, Thomas Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald, who served in many of our wars, first against Spain and then on the Spanish side in the Peninsular War. Lord Dundonald died in 1860, but he left the navy in 1814 because of a false accusation which was made against him. He then went out to Chili, where he served the cause of Chilian Independence. Lord Dundonald was afterwards proved 173to have been innocent of the charges made against him, and his banner as Knight of the Bath was restored to its place in Henry VII’s Chapel. At the time of his disgrace it had been taken away and kicked down the steps of the Chapel.
In the Nave is another monument connected with this time in our history. It is that of Spencer Perceval, who was Prime Minister during the Peninsular War. He was shot in the Lobby of the House of Commons in 1812 by a man whose business had been ruined by the war, and who was supposed to be mad.
The bust of Lord John Russell in the North-West Tower, a part which is often called “Whigs’ Corner,” reminds us of the great Parliamentary Reform Bill, which was one of the most important events in the last century. The change was much needed, as the people of the country were not properly represented. Some large and important towns had no member at all, while some very small and insignificant places were 174allowed to return one or more members to Parliament. The reform was made more difficult on account of the disturbances and revolutions in France and elsewhere, which made people think it was better to have no changes at all. However, in 1831, Lord John Russell brought in his Reform Bill, which passed, after great discussion and struggle, in 1832. Lord John Russell, afterwards Earl Russell, was educated at Westminster School. He is not buried in the Abbey, although it was proposed to give him a public funeral there. It was his own wish to be buried with his family at Chenies, in Buckinghamshire.
We have just spoken of the changes and revolutions that went on in France during the earlier years of the nineteenth century. We are reminded of these when we find in the Abbey the beautiful tomb of the Duc de Montpensier, brother of King Louis Philippe, who died in 1807, while he and his brother were living in exile in England. The Duke is buried in Henry VII’s Chapel, 175quite close to Dean Stanley. The Duc de Montpensier is the only French prince buried in the Abbey. His monument is one of the finest modern ones that we have at Westminster. Queen Louise of Savoy, wife of King Louis XVIII of France, was also buried for a short time in the Abbey, and there is an interesting account of her funeral in the Precentor’s book. Her body was afterwards removed to Sardinia. Queen Louise died in 1810.
But to return to our own English history. One of the first acts of the new reformed Parliament was to abolish negro slavery in all the English colonies and possessions. This great work of Christian charity had been for years in the minds of many good people who had worked and fought hard for the cause. The measure passed in 1833.
Like the Reform Bill, the abolition of the Slave Trade was one of the greatest events in the nineteenth century, and there are many memorials of it in the Abbey.
We will begin by mentioning Charles James 176Fox, who was the great political rival of the younger Pitt, and who died a few months after him, in 1806. He was buried in the North Transept, but his monument is in the Nave, not far from Pitt’s. The kneeling figure of the negro on the monument is an allusion to Fox’s last speech in the House of Commons, when he proposed the abolition of the Slave Trade.
In the South Transept there is a monument to Granville Sharp, who did so much in the cause that he was called the father of the Anti-Slavery Movement. He was also one of the founders of the British and Foreign Bible Society. He died in 1813, and the African Society put up the monument to him.
Zachary Macaulay, who had been Governor of Sierra Leone, was another fighter in the same cause. He has a monument in “Whigs’ Corner,” under the North-West Tower.
But the name chiefly remembered when we speak of the Anti-Slavery Movement is that of William Wilberforce, who died in 1771833, just before the great Emancipation Day, the day which set the slaves free in all the British dominions. Wilberforce’s monument is in the North Choir aisle, and represents him sitting in a chair with his legs crossed, and in a very odd posture altogether. He is buried in the North Transept.
Near Wilberforce’s monument is that of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, who had also helped in the fight against the Slave Trade. Buxton had also done a great work in the reform of our laws concerning the punishment of criminals, and his labours were shared by Sir James Mackintosh, who has a memorial bust in “Whigs’ Corner.”
Not far off is the monument to Sir Stamford Raffles, the first Governor of the colony of Java, which we had conquered from the Dutch, and which we afterwards gave back to them, much against Sir Stamford Raffles’s advice. England owes her colony at Singapore to the influence of Sir Stamford Raffles, and she also owes 178him her power in the Eastern Seas. When he finally came home, Raffles founded the Zoological Society of London, and was its first President. He ought to be remembered among the men who helped to do away with slavery, as he himself set free all the negroes who were under his authority. He died in 1826.
Two other monuments in “Whigs’ Corner” remind us of men who worked hard for the abolition of the Slave Trade and for the change in our penal laws. These are the monuments of Lord Holland and of the Marquis of Lansdowne. Lord Holland was the nephew of Charles James Fox, whose monument is close by. He died in 1840. Lord Lansdowne, who died in 1863, had a long political career, which began in the days of Pitt.
[W. Rice, F.R.P.S.
CHARLES JAMES FOX.
179Almost in the middle of the Nave lies the famous African explorer and missionary, David Livingstone, who, although he belongs to a rather later date, may well be remembered with the noble group of men who fought against the Slave Trade. Livingstone died in Africa in 1873, and his body was brought back to England by his faithful black servant, Jacob Wainwight, who followed his coffin as it was carried up the Abbey, and threw a palm branch into the open grave. On the tombstone are carved the last words in Livingstone’s diary. They are as follows: “All I can add in my solitude is, may Heaven’s rich blessing come down on every one, American, English, or Turk, who will help to heal this open sore of the world” (that is, the Slave Trade).
Another Parliamentary measure which was very important for England was the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, and the introduction of Free Trade a few years later. Two of the chief leaders of these movements have memorials in the Abbey. One of them is Sir Robert Peel, whose statue stands in a most conspicuous place just at the corner of the North Transept and the North Ambulatory. The other is 180Richard Cobden, whose bust is placed in the North Transept aisle.
We must now turn from home politics to more wars in various parts of the world, wars which also have written some of their story on the Abbey walls.
In 1854 the Crimean War, between Russia on one side and Turkey with her English and French allies on the other, broke out. The real Westminster memorial to the heroes of the Crimean War stands in Broad Sanctuary, just outside the Abbey, and speaks to us of the Westminster scholars who fell in the Crimea, the most famous of them being Lord Raglan. But there are windows in the Abbey in memory of officers who served in this war, as well as in the war in India which followed it. Some years before the Crimean War there had been wars and disturbances in Afghanistan, in the Punjaub, and in Burmah; and at last, in 1857, the terrible Indian Mutiny broke out. The horrors of this time will probably never be forgotten while English 181history lasts, and we need only speak of the massacre of Cawnpore and the siege of Lucknow in order to bring the story of the Mutiny back to every one’s mind.
There are many graves and monuments in the Abbey to tell us of the brave men who saved our Indian Empire at that troubled time.
The first Afghan War is commemorated by the grave of Sir George Pollock, who fought his way through the Khyber Pass to Cabul, after the terrible slaughter of the British in 1842. Sir George Pollock was thanked by Parliament for his services in that war. He died in 1872, and is buried in the Nave.
In the North Transept is the bust of Sir Herbert Edwardes, who greatly distinguished himself in the Sikh War, and quelled the outbreak at Mooltan in 1848. He also did good service during the Mutiny. He died in 1868.
In the Nave are the graves of three of the great heroes of the Indian Mutiny, 182namely, Sir Colin Campbell (afterwards Lord Clyde), Sir James Outram, and John Laird Mair, Lord Lawrence.
Sir Colin Campbell joined the army when he was quite a boy, and fought in the Peninsular War. He served under Sir John Moore in the advance to Salamanca, and in the famous retreat to Corunna. Later on he fought in the Sikh War, and then in the Crimean War. He was sent out to India to help to crush the Mutiny, and the most celebrated thing he did was the relief of Lucknow, thus putting an end to that terrible siege. He died in 1863.
Sir James Outram’s grave is close by, and all English boys and girls should look at his monument, where they will see a representation of the great scene at Lucknow, when Sir Colin Campbell relieved the town and met the gallant defenders, Outram and Havelock. Outram died in 1863.
The name of Sir Henry Lawrence ought also to be remembered when we speak of Lucknow, although his body does not rest 183in the Abbey. He did much to save Lucknow in the time of the siege, and he was killed on the ramparts only a short time before Sir Colin Campbell arrived with his Highlanders.
The grave of his brother, John, Lord Lawrence, reminds us of a great and good man who served his country well in India. Although he was a civilian and not a soldier by profession, he had great military ability, and it was he who really saved the Punjaub at the time of the Mutiny. He succeeded Lord Elgin as Viceroy of India in 1863, and died in 1879. On his tombstone are words which we all might pray to deserve: “He feared man so little because he feared God so much.”
There is a fine bust of Lord Lawrence against the south wall of the Nave, not far from where he is buried.
In the North Transept are windows in memory of seven officers who were killed in the Indian Mutiny. These are Sir Henry Barnard, K.C.B., Lieutenant-Colonel Woodford, 184Lovick Cooper, a young ensign, Captain Thynne, Ensign Bankes, Captain Moorsom, and Lieutenant-Colonel Adrian Hope.
Four of these officers had also fought in the Crimean War in 1854–56, and had distinguished themselves by their services at that time.
Colonel Adrian Hope had also fought in the Kaffir War, and thus his name brings the remembrance of South Africa into the Abbey, long before the memorial was put up to those who fell in the last Boer War.
There is a window in the North Transept to the memory of officers who were lost in the Captain, which foundered off Cape Finisterre on 7th September 1870, five days after that great Battle of Sedan which ended the terrible war between France and Germany.
In St. Andrew’s Chapel there is also a window to the memory of those that fell in action and died from the effects of wounds or climate during the Ashanti War in 1873.
A bronze bust in the North-West Tower reminds us of another soldier hero of our 185time, Charles George Gordon, remembered chiefly for his work in China, in Egypt, and in the Soudan. The story of Gordon’s death at Khartoum in 1885 will never be forgotten. His name and noble character are always kept fresh in our memory by the Gordon Boys’ Home, which does such excellent work in training boys for the army.
South Africa has one direct memorial at Westminster, for in the North Cloister there is a tablet in memory of the men of the Queen’s Westminster Volunteer Corps who fell in the Boer War of 1899–1902. The tablet was put up in 1901, and was unveiled by the Secretary of State for War.
We are reminded of an earlier time in the history of the Volunteers by the monument of George Herries, the first Colonel of the London and Westminster Light Horse Volunteers, of which he was described as the “father.” George Herries was a well-known merchant. He died in 1819, and was buried in the Abbey with military honours. His monument is in the Nave.
186We must now look back over the nineteenth century, as we did over the eighteenth, and call to mind many other great men whose graves and monuments we find in the Abbey,—statesmen, writers, and men of science.
As we have been speaking of the political history of England, let us begin with some of the great statesmen.
Lord Chatham, as we have seen, belonged to the eighteenth century. The younger William Pitt, and his great political rival, Charles James Fox, died quite early in the nineteenth century, and their graves and monuments have already been described.
As we enter by the great North Door we see on our left a striking group of three statues. These represent (1) George Canning, the great statesman and orator, who died in 1827; (2) his son, Charles, Earl Canning, Viceroy of India; and (3) their cousin, Stratford Canning, Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, who was for fifty years our Ambassador in the East.
STATESMEN’S CORNER, EASTERN AISLE.
187Among other things, George Canning was closely connected with that important political change of the last century, which is known as the Roman Catholic Emancipation Bill. This was the measure which allowed Roman Catholics to be members of Parliament, and removed other disabilities under which they had suffered. The measure did not actually become law until after Canning’s death.
Earl Canning was Governor-General of India during the Mutiny, and became the first Viceroy. His name is always to be remembered with those of Clyde, John and Henry Lawrence, and the other great men of the Mutiny time. Lord Canning died in 1862. The Cannings are buried in the North Transept, in a vault near that of the Pitt family.
Close by is the grave of Henry Grattan, who died in 1820, the great defender of the rights of Ireland.
On the opposite side of the Transept to the Cannings is the statute of George 188Canning’s chief political rival, Lord Castlereagh, afterwards Marquis of Londonderry, who died in 1822. Lord Castlereagh was Foreign Secretary, and attended the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818. He helped greatly to make peace in Europe after all the fights with Napoleon. He unfortunately became very unpopular later, partly because of the heavy taxes the people had to pay after the French wars, and partly because he thought the Press had too much liberty and he tried to curtail that liberty. There was a terrible riot at his funeral, and the mourners had to fight their way through an angry mob.
Close to Castlereagh’s statue is that of Lord Palmerston, who was twice Prime Minister in Queen Victoria’s reign, after being Secretary of State for War for twenty years. Lord Palmerston was Prime Minister during the Crimean War and at the time when the Indian Mutiny began. He was given a public funeral, and is buried in the North Transept. His wife is buried with him.
189On the side opposite to Castlereagh and Palmerston is the statue of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield. Lord Beaconsfield is remembered as a famous leader of the Conservative party in Parliament, and as a man who did much for the growth of the British Empire. It was at his suggestion that the late Queen took the title of Empress of India, and to him we owe much of our present position in Egypt. Lord Beaconsfield was also a well-known writer of novels. His most famous books are perhaps Lothair, Sybil, and Coningsby. Lord Beaconsfield died in 1881, and is buried at Hughenden in Buckinghamshire.
William Ewart Gladstone, the great Liberal leader, and Lord Beaconsfield’s chief political opponent, is buried in the North Transept, and his statue stands next to that of Disraeli. Mr. Gladstone was four times Prime Minister. The Bill for the Disestablishment of the Irish Church was passed when he was in power in 1871. Gladstone was not only eminent in politics, but he 190exercised a considerable literary, social, and moral influence over many of his fellow-countrymen. Gladstone died in 1898.
In the year 1870 the Education Bill was passed, a Bill which has made a great difference to all English people, as everybody now has the opportunity of going to school and of having a good and useful teaching, not only in reading and writing, but in many other things as well. The scheme for this new plan of education was made by William Edward Forster, who is commemorated in the Abbey by a medallion which is placed above the monument of his uncle, Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, in the North Choir aisle.
The grave and monument of Sir Rowland Hill in St. Paul’s Chapel remind us of another important change which took place in 1839, namely, the introduction of the penny postage and the invention of adhesive postage stamps.
Another monument, a very beautiful and interesting one, is that erected to the memory 191of Henry Fawcett, the blind Postmaster-General, who accomplished so much good work in spite of the terrible disadvantage of his blindness, which was the result of an accident when he was quite young. This always seems to be a monument to undaunted courage and perseverance in the face of great misfortune, and it should teach us to be brave and patient, however much things may seem to be against us.
It is now time to speak of the chief authors of the century, and to turn our thoughts once more to Poets’ Corner.
Here, next to Dr. Johnson, we find the grave of the brilliant play-writer and parliamentary orator, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the author of the Rivals and The School for Scandal. Sheridan died in 1816, the year after the Battle of Waterloo.
Against the wall, close to the door of St. Faith’s Chapel, is the bust of the great novelist, Sir Walter Scott, who died in 1832. His Waverley Novels are too famous to need any description. We need only speak 192of Ivanhoe, Quentin Durward, The Antiquary, and Kenilworth, in order to remind English people of all ages of many hours of interest and delight. The particular position was expressly chosen for the bust of Sir Walter Scott, because it is close to the monument of the Duke of Argyll and Greenwich, the same Duke of Argyll who appears in Scott’s famous story, The Heart of Midlothian. The bust was placed in the Abbey only a few years ago; it is a copy of the bust by Chantrey at Abbotsford.
Above Shakspeare’s monument are busts of two celebrated poets of the early part of the nineteenth century—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, author of “The Ancient Mariner,” “Christabel,” and other well-known poems, and Robert Southey, Poet-Laureate, author of “Thalaba,” “The Curse of Kehama,” and the poem on the Waterfall at Lodore. Coleridge died in 1834, and Southey in 1843, in the reign of Queen Victoria. Neither Coleridge nor Southey is buried in the Abbey. Southey was one of the famous 193group of “Lake poets,” and is buried in the lake country, at Crosthwaite, near Keswick.
Close by Shakspeare’s monument is the statue of Thomas Campbell, who wrote “The Pleasures of Hope,” “The Battle of the Baltic,” “Ye Mariners of England,” and other poems.
Under the South-West Tower, in the former Baptistery, is the monument of the great poet, William Wordsworth, who lived through the time of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, and died in 1850. He was the chief of the “Lake poets.” Wordsworth is not buried in the Abbey, but in Grasmere churchyard, in that English lake-country where he was born and which he loved so dearly. Wordsworth’s chief poems are “The Excursion,” “The White Doe of Rylstone,” “Tintern Abbey,” the “Ode on Immortality,” and the “Ode to Duty.” But there are many others, great and small, which are part of the heritage he has left to his fellow-countrymen.
In the Baptistery, just opposite Wordsworth’s 194monument, is a memorial portrait bust of Charles Kingsley, the great preacher and writer, author of Alton Locke, Westward Ho!, Hypatia, and of many well-known poems. Charles Kingsley is remembered with especial interest and affection at the Abbey, as he was Canon of Westminster for two years. He died in 1875, and is buried at Eversley, in Hampshire, where he was rector for so long.
Next to Kingsley is a bust of Matthew Arnold, the poet, essayist, and critic. Next to him again is a bust of Frederick Denison Maurice, a great religious teacher of the nineteenth century. Opposite to these, and next to Wordsworth, is the monument to John Keble, author of The Christian Year. Next to that is the monument of the famous Dr. Thomas Arnold, who was headmaster of Rugby, and who did much to improve the whole life in the public schools of England. Matthew Arnold, of whom we have just heard, was his son.
In Poets’ Corner, close to the grave of 195Chaucer, lie two other famous poets of the Victorian age, Alfred Tennyson and Robert Browning.
Tennyson will always be remembered as the poet of In Memoriam and The Idylls of the King, and also of many splendid patriotic poems which all English boys and girls ought to know. He died in 1892, and when his grave was being dug in Poets’ Corner a skull and leg-bone were found, which were evidently those of Geoffrey Chaucer, who had been buried here nearly five hundred years before. By Tennyson’s own wish the Union Jack was wrapped round his coffin and buried with him. A fine bust of Tennyson has been placed against a pillar near his grave.
Robert Browning, author of The Ring and the Book, Pippa Passes, By the Fireside, and many other famous poems, died at Venice in 1889. His body was brought back to be buried in the Abbey. His wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, well known as a poetess, is buried in Florence.
196Near Chaucer’s monument is a bust of the American poet, Longfellow, who died in 1882. Some of his poems are familiar to most English children.
Charles Dickens, the great novelist, is buried in Poets’ Corner, just under Handel’s monument and close to Handel’s grave. Dickens will always be remembered as the author of David Copperfield, The Old Curiosity Shop, Christmas Stories, and many other books which are dear to the hearts of all English people.
Against the wall, on either side of Addison’s statue, are the busts of two other great writers of the last century,—Lord Macaulay, the poet and historian, and William Makepeace Thackeray, the famous novelist. Lord Macaulay, who died in 1859, was the son of Zachary Macaulay, of whom we have already heard in connection with the abolition of the slave-trade. Among Lord Macaulay’s best known writings are the Lays of Ancient Rome. His grave is close by Addison’s statue. Thackeray, who wrote Esmond, The 197Newcomes, Vanity Fair, and many other celebrated books, is not buried in the Abbey, but at Kensal Green. He died in 1863.
Nearer to the Choir aisle are the busts of the two great historians of Greece, Bishop Thirlwall and George Grote, who are buried in the same grave. They both died in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
Just above the bust of Sir Walter Scott is a bronze medallion with a portrait head of John Ruskin, author of The Stones of Venice, Modern Painters, Sesame and Lilies, and many other well-known works on art and life.
In St. Edmund’s Chapel is the grave of Edward Bulwer Lytton, Lord Lytton, author of many widely read novels and historical romances. Among his best known books are The Last Days of Pompeii, The Caxtons, Rienzi, and Kenelm Chillingly. He died in 1873.
Several of the great actors of the nineteenth century are commemorated in the Abbey. Such are Mrs. Siddons, and her brother, John 198Philip Kemble, whose statues are in St. Andrew’s Chapel. Sir Henry Irving, the well-known actor of Shakspeare’s plays, as well as of many others, died in 1905, and is buried at the foot of Shakspeare’s monument, close to the grave of his great brother-actor, David Garrick.
In the Musicians’ Aisle is the grave of Sir William Sterndale Bennett, one of the chief English composers of his time. He died in 1875. In the same aisle is a medallion in memory of Michael Balfe, who composed The Bohemian Girl, and a window to James Turle, who was organist of the Abbey for fifty-six years. In St. Andrew’s Chapel is a window in memory of Vincent Novello, founder of the famous house of music publishers of that name.
GRAVES OF NEWTON, HERSCHEL, DARWIN, AND KELVIN.
199The great and especial glory of the nineteenth century was the wonderful development of almost every kind of scientific knowledge and work, and the number of important scientific discoveries that were made. It is not too much to say that some of these discoveries, and some of the new theories about our world and the things in and around it, have influenced and changed our lives and our thoughts very much indeed. We can see this very plainly if we think of what Darwin has taught us, and if we think of the invention of the steam-engine, the introduction of railway travelling, and of steamships, of land and ocean telegraphy, telephones, motors, wireless telegraphy, and now of airships. This extraordinary progress in scientific research and knowledge is not without its record in the Abbey, as we shall see. We shall find that many of the great men of science who lived in the nineteenth century are either buried or commemorated in the Abbey.
Foremost among these is Charles Robert Darwin, the biologist of world-wide fame, author of The Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, and other celebrated scientific works. Darwin died in 1882, and is buried in the north aisle of the Nave, quite near the grave of Sir Isaac Newton.
200Next to Darwin lies the famous astronomer, Sir John Frederick Herschel, who died in 1871. Another astronomer, John Couch Adams, discoverer of the planet Neptune, has a memorial in this same north aisle. Close by are memorials to James Prescott Joule, who discovered certain laws connected with heat and electricity, and to Sir George Gabriel Stokes.
A little farther down the aisle is the grave of the great geologist, Sir Charles Lyell, who died in 1875. His bust is placed near the tablet in memory of Dr. John Woodward, who lived in the eighteenth century, and who has been called the “father of English Geology.”
On the other side of the Nave is a memorial to William Buckland, Dean of Westminster, who was twice President of the Geological Society, and wrote many books about geology. In the South Transept, near the monument of Dr. Busby, is the grave of William Spottiswoode, who was President of the Royal Society and Printer to Queen Victoria. He died in 1883.
201One of the most famous men of science of our own day, William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, rests close to Newton. He was born in 1824, and died in 1907, and devoted his long life to the pursuit of science,—to what is called “applied science” as well as to speculative science. We owe to Lord Kelvin many of the wonderful inventions now in quite common use,—in navigation, in telegraphing under the ocean, and in other ways.
One of the most important changes in the life of the whole nation was brought about in the nineteenth century by the introduction of railway travelling. Those of us who are quite young, and have hardly ever heard of a time when there were no railways, cannot realise or understand how great this change must be.
Even railways have their memorials in the Abbey, for in the Nave we find the grave of Robert Stephenson, who died in 1859, engineer of the Birmingham Railway and of the Britannia Bridge over the Menai Straits. 202He is buried next to the famous engineer, Thomas Telford, who died in 1834, and whose chief works were the Caledonian Canal, the Menai Bridge, and the plan for the inland navigation of Sweden. There is a large statue of Telford in St. Andrew’s Chapel. Not far from the grave of Robert Stephenson is a window in his memory. It is not at all beautiful, as it represents railway bridges and other things which do not look well in a stained-glass window,—but it is certainly interesting.
Near this are windows in memory of the great engineers (1) Richard Trevithick, who died in 1833, the inventor of the high-pressure steam-engine, and of the first real railway engine; (2) Brunel, who died in 1859, and who built the largest steamships known in his time, the Great Eastern and the Great Western; and (3) John Locke, who died in 1860, and who designed the “Crewe Engine.”
Close to these a beautiful new window has been erected to the memory of Sir Benjamin 203Baker, who died in 1907. He was the engineer of the Forth Bridge, the Assouan Dam, and other important works. In the window are full-length figures of Edward III and of Cardinal Langham, once Abbot of Westminster.
Near the graves of Stephenson and Telford are buried four distinguished architects of the nineteenth century. These are:—
(1) Sir Charles Barry, who built the present Houses of Parliament, and who died in 1860.
(2) Sir Gilbert Scott, who died in 1878. He was one of the leaders in the revival of Gothic architecture in England.
(3) George Edmund Street, who died in 1881. A distinguished architect in the Gothic style. He designed the present Law Courts.
(4) John Loughborough Pearson, who died in 1897.
Sir Gilbert Scott and Mr. Pearson were both of them “Surveyors of the Fabric” to the Abbey. This means that they had 204charge of the actual building from the architectural point of view.
In the Chapel of St. John the Evangelist is a memorial to the great Arctic explorer, Sir John Franklin, who was lost in 1847, with both his crews, while making the discovery of the North-West Passage. The monument was put up by Lady Franklin. On it is a representation of the vessel fast in the Polar ice, and round the sculptured scene are the words—
“O ye ice and snow, O ye frost and cold, bless ye the Lord; Praise him and magnify Him for ever.”
Below are Tennyson’s beautiful lines—
“Not here: the White North has thy bones; and thou
Heroic sailor soul,
Art passing on thy happier voyage now
Towards no earthly pole.”
Close by is the memorial to another Arctic explorer, Admiral Sir Leopold M‘Clintock, who died in 1907. It was he who discovered the remains of Franklin’s ships, and thus found out how he had died.
205Before ending this long list of people who are gathered into remembrance in the Abbey, we must not forget the names of some of those who have served their fellow-men by special works of love and kindness.
Close to the great West Door is a fine statue of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, who did a great deal to make the lives of poor children healthier, happier, and better, and to whom England owes many improvements in the laws about work in factories and mines.
Lord Shaftesbury is remembered in Westminster as President of the Westminster Window Garden show, a flower show which was intended to encourage poor people to grow nice flowers in their windows, and so to brighten the dulness and ugliness of town streets, as well as to teach them something about Nature. Lord Shaftesbury used to come every year to give the prizes at this show, which used to be held in Dean’s Yard.
Lord Shaftesbury also took great interest 206in George Peabody’s scheme for improving the dwellings of the poor, and tried all he could to help on this good work. He died in 1883.
George Peabody, who gave such generous help towards building better houses for the poor, was an American. He died in London in 1869, and his body rested for a short time in the Abbey, close to the place where Lord Shaftesbury’s statue now stands.
Quite near this spot also is the grave of Baroness Burdett-Coutts, who died in 1907, and whose name will long be remembered for her works of charity.
THE WAX EFFIGIES
… “We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”
Shakspeare (The Tempest).
Before speaking of the other parts of the Abbey buildings we must not forget the little Islip Chantry, or upper part of Abbot Islip’s beautiful chapel in the North Ambulatory. In this Chantry are the presses which contain the celebrated wax effigies of which we so often hear.
In olden times it used to be the custom to carry effigies in the funeral processions of sovereigns and of other important personages, and to leave these effigies standing beside the grave for a month or more after the funeral. This custom succeeded to the yet older one of carrying the dead body of the 208sovereign with its face exposed, in order to show that the sovereign was really dead, and that there had been no foul play. In those days, unfortunately, foul play was not very uncommon, as we see in the case of Edward II and Richard II.
The oldest effigies were not made of wax, but of wood, and they had heads, hands, and feet made of plaster. The effigy of Henry V was made of boiled leather, or, as an old description says: “boyled hides.” In later days people learned to make effigies in wax, and some of them were no doubt very good portraits. There are eleven of these wax effigies still shown in the Islip Chantry.
The oldest which now remains is that of Charles II, which stood for a long time beside his grave in Henry VII’s Chapel. The face is just like the pictures we see of Charles II. He wears the blue and red velvet robes of a Knight of the Garter, with collar and ruffles of real, and very beautiful, point lace. The effigy of Queen Elizabeth is a Restoration, and no doubt a copy of the original, which had got quite worn out by 1708. Some people think the head may really be that of the first effigy. The face is very sad and worn, and looks as if Queen Elizabeth had been very unhappy in her old age. We recognise the familiar Elizabethan dress, the ruff, the high-heeled shoes, the pointed bodice and wide skirts.
209Next to Queen Elizabeth stand the effigies of William III and Mary II, which are placed together in one large case. The crown is on a pedestal between the two figures, and both sovereigns carry the sceptre and the orb, so as to show that they reigned jointly, Mary not being Queen-Consort merely. William was evidently a good deal shorter than his wife, for he stands on a foot-stool in order to look equal in height. Mary wears a brocaded skirt, and a purple velvet robe over it. She also wears imitation paste and pearl ornaments and beautiful lace in her sleeves. The last effigy of a sovereign is that of Queen Anne. She is represented seated, and is dressed in robes of brocaded silk. She wears many 210ornaments, and has a crown over her dark, flowing hair. Her face is rather fat, with a kindly, good-natured expression.
Close to the case which holds the effigy of Queen Anne is a figure of General Monck, in armour. This figure used to look very much battered and greatly the worse for wear, but it has lately been rather mended up. The cap is the famous one mentioned in the Ingoldsby Legends, in the well-known lines—
“I thought on Naseby, Marston Moor, and Worcester’s crowning fight,
When on my ear a sound there fell, it filled me with affright;
As thus, in low unearthly tones, I heard a voice begin—
‘This here’s the cap of General Monck! Sir, please put summat in.’”
General Monck, afterwards Duke of Albemarle, is buried in Henry VII’s Chapel, as we have already said.
The next effigy is that of Frances Theresa Stuart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox, a great beauty in her day. She was maid-of-honour to Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II. She sat as a model for the figure 211of Britannia on a medal which was struck to commemorate the Treaty of Breda, when peace was made between the English and Dutch after the first Dutch War. This was in 1667. The figure of Britannia is no doubt the same that we now see on our pennies and halfpennies. Frances Stuart is dressed in the robes she wore at the Coronation of Queen Anne. Beside her is her parrot, which died a few days after her. This lady left particular orders about her effigy, directing that it should be “as well done in wax as can bee—and sett up in a presse by itself, … with cleare Crowne glasse before it, and dressed in my Coronation Robes and Coronett.” The effigy at first stood beside the Duchess’s grave in Henry VII’s Chapel.
Next to the Duchess of Richmond and Lennox stand the effigies of Catherine, Duchess of Buckinghamshire, and her little son, the Marquis of Normanby, who died when a child. The Duchess, with her husband and children, are buried in Henry VII’s Chapel, and a large monument is erected 212there to the Duke, who was distinguished as a politician, soldier, and man of letters in the reigns of Charles II and James II.
The Duchess of Buckinghamshire died in 1743. Her effigy is dressed in the robes that she wore at the Coronation of George II. This lady settled all about her own funeral with the Garter King-at-Arms, and was quite afraid lest she should die before the grand canopy came home. “Let them send it,” she said, “though all the tassels are not finished.” Buckingham House, where the Duchess lived, was built by her husband on the site of the present Buckingham Palace.
In the middle of the Chantry is a glass case containing the effigy of Edmund Sheffield, last Duke of Buckinghamshire, and son of the Duchess whose effigy has just been described. The young Duke died in Rome in 1735, aged only nineteen. This effigy, which is a very fine one, was the last ever carried at a funeral. The Duchess wanted to borrow the great Duke of Marlborough’s funeral car for the funeral of her son. But 213Sarah, the celebrated Duchess of Marlborough, replied very haughtily that “it carried my Lord Marlborough, and it shall never be profaned by any other corpse.” Whereupon the Duchess of Buckinghamshire retorted: “I have consulted the undertaker, and he tells me I may have a finer for twenty pounds.”
There are two other wax figures in the Chantry, but they are not, properly speaking, effigies, because they were not used in the funeral processions, but were only put up to attract sightseers. These figures represent two very eminent Englishmen, namely, William Pitt the elder, afterwards Lord Chatham, and Lord Nelson. Both figures are remarkably good, and must be excellent likenesses. Lord Chatham wears his peer’s robes, and a wig, such as was then the fashion.
Lord Nelson’s effigy is dressed in naval uniform; all the dress, except the coat, belonged to Nelson himself. The eye-patch for Nelson’s blind eye was found attached to the inner lining of the hat when Maclise 214borrowed it to copy for his well-known picture, “The Death of Nelson.”
These wax effigies, then, are not mere curiosities, but are interesting, both as showing us an ancient funeral custom and as representing people who played a part in the English history of their day.
[W. Rice, F.R.P.S.
THE MONASTIC BUILDINGS
“That Fabric rises high as Heaven,
Whose Basis on Devotion stands.”
With the help of the Abbey we have taken a long, and perhaps rather hurried, journey through many centuries of our country’s history, and have tried to think of the many links by which the Abbey is bound to all English hearts. We must now turn back again across those centuries, and try to remember something of the old monastery, of its buildings, of the Abbots who governed it, and of the sort of lives the monks lived.
The Abbey, as we already know, was dedicated to St. Peter from the earliest days. The monks belonged to the great Benedictine order. That order, which had spread over all 216Europe, “from Poland to Portugal, and from Cumberland to Calabria,” was founded by St. Benedict in the sixth century after Christ. St. Benedict was born in Italy about the year 480, during a very restless and troubled time, just after the last Emperor had been driven out of Rome. Benedict very soon determined to live the life of a monk, and when he was quite a boy he went away from Rome to a place in the mountains near. From this place he went to a yet more remote and lonely one, the wild and beautiful Subiaco, where the Emperor Nero had once had a “villa” or country house.
There are two famous Benedictine monasteries at Subiaco, and it is an interesting thing to remember that the first books printed in Italy were printed at one of these monasteries, just as in England many of Caxton’s books were printed under the shadow of the Benedictine Abbey of Westminster.
Again, when St. Benedict built his great monastery at Monte Cassino, he built it on the site of a Temple of Apollo, just as King 217Lucius is said to have done in those far-off days at “Thorney,” or Westminster.
St. Benedict directed that the monks of his order should divide their time between the services in the church, study, and manual work of some kind. It should never be forgotten that it is largely to the monasteries that we owe the preservation of learning, and our inheritance of the great writings of the Greek and Roman world.
The idea of making monasteries places of study and learning did not begin with St. Benedict, but Western Europe owes him a great debt for having insisted that study should be an important part of a monk’s work. This was a great service to mankind and to civilisation in those wild days of barbarian invasion and almost constant war.
It should be remembered, too, that the clergy and monks were the chief, if not the only, teachers during several centuries. If we want to see and understand this we can find an example in what our own countryman, Alcuin of York, did for education under the 218patronage and with the help of Charlemagne.
The Chapel dedicated to St. Benedict in the Abbey has already been mentioned two or three times. This Chapel is just at the entrance of the South Ambulatory.
On the south side of the Abbey Church, and protected by it from the cold north, lies the beautiful cloister where the monks and their pupils spent a great deal of their time. The Cloister-walks form a quadrangle, with a large grass plot in the middle. Under that peaceful grass plot many of the Westminster monks are resting, and many people are buried in the Cloister itself.
The present Cloister is of different dates. Parts of the East and North Walks are of the time of Henry III and Edward I. Another part of the East Walk was built in the reign of Edward III, and the South and West Walks were built some years later by Abbot Litlington. It is said that every style of English architecture can be seen in the Westminster Cloisters; and this is true, because, 219as we shall see, some of the old Norman Cloister remains, and in the great Cloister we can find the Early English, the Decorated, and the Perpendicular styles.
The Cloister was not a burial-place only. It was a very important part of the monastery, as much of the daily life went on there.
In those days the windows had glass in them; the floor and benches were strewn with straw and hay in summer, and with rushes in winter. The walls were decorated with frescoes, and lamps hung from the vaulting.
The East Cloister was given up to the Abbot, who was a great personage. Whenever he passed, every one rose and bowed and kept silence. The monks themselves used the North Cloister, where the Prior also sate. The novices and pupils worked at their lessons in the West Cloister. The pupils sate one behind the other; they were not allowed to make jokes or to make signals to one another. They had to talk always in French. They were to take great care about their writing and illuminations, 220and no doubt many beautiful old illuminated missals and other books came forth from those Cloister walks at Westminster.
In the South Cloister is a very large bluish gravestone, reminding us of the terrible plague which visited most of Europe about the middle of the fourteenth century, and which was called “The Black Death.” Twenty-six of the Westminster monks, including the Abbot, died of the Black Death in 1348–49, and the monks are supposed to have been buried beneath this huge gravestone, which used to be called “Long Meg.” The Abbot, Byrcheston, was buried near the Chapter-House entrance, in the part of the Cloister which was built in his time.
Close to “Long Meg” are the graves of several of the Abbots of Norman and early Plantagenet times. Three of the figures still remain close to the wall, but the names are not carved over the right gravestones. After 1220 it became the custom to bury the Abbots in the church itself.
In the East Cloister there is a beautiful 221carved archway, which forms the entrance to a lovely little passage with very sharply pointed arches. This passage leads into the Chapter-House, one of the finest parts of the Abbey buildings. The “incomparable Chapter-House,” as an old chronicler calls it, was begun by Henry III in 1250. It is eight-sided, and the vault springs from a tall and graceful central pillar, just as the branches spring from a palm tree. The windows are very famous for their beautiful tracery. The stained glass in them is modern, and is a memorial to the late Dean Stanley.
The walls were once covered with paintings, but these have been sadly destroyed, and only very few have been preserved. In the glass cases which are now placed in the Chapter-House are many most interesting and valuable things, such as the great illuminated missal presented to the Abbey by Abbot Litlington, and charters granted to the Abbey by various Kings, from the Saxon times onward.
222There is also a splendidly bound book of Henry VII’s time, concerning certain arrangements between the King and the Abbey of Westminster, and the Liber Regalis, or Coronation book of Richard II.
In another case will be found an interesting collection of old seals.
The Westminster Chapter-House has had a very varied and rather exciting history. In the old days the Chapter-House was the meeting-place of the convent. There the affairs of the monastery used to be discussed; there complaints might be made; there the monks might confess their faults; and there, usually, they were punished. The Consistory Court of the convent used to be held in the South-West Tower. The seats for the judge and his assessors are still to be seen against the south wall, below the monument to Henry Fawcett. A Consistory Court was the place where trials which had to do with church matters were held.
[G. A. Dunn.
223About thirty years after the Chapter-House was first built it began to be used as the meeting-place of the House of Commons, at the time when the Commons were separated from the Lords. The last time that the Commons sate in the Westminster Chapter-House was on the last day of Henry VIII’s reign, and the last act passed there was the attainder of the Duke of Norfolk (1546). In 1547 the House of Commons moved to the Chapel of St. Stephen in the Palace of Westminster, and the Chapter-House began to be used as the Record Office. It is curious, when we look at the Chapter-House as it is now, to think that it was once all lined round with galleries and cupboards, and that the Records of the kingdom were kept here until 1864. Soon afterwards the Chapter-House was restored to its present state, and is no doubt very like what it was in Henry III’s time. While it was the Record Office, Domesday Book and many other most precious books and documents had their home at Westminster.
Under the Chapter-House is a crypt, 224of which the walls are eighteen feet thick, and which, long centuries ago, was used as the Royal Treasury. The Regalia and stores of money were kept there. In 1303 a terrible thing happened. There was a great robbery of the Royal Treasure; the money which Edward I had collected for the Scottish wars was stolen, as well as part of the Regalia. It is sad to think that some of the Westminster monks had to do with this disgraceful robbery, but they were found out and punished.
Below the pavement of the entrance to the Chapter-House are buried (1) Abbot Edwyn, the friend and adviser of Edward the Confessor, and the first Abbot of his new monastery; (2) Hugolin, who was Chamberlain and Treasurer to the Confessor; and (3) Sulcard, a monk, who wrote the first history of the Abbey. In the vestibule, close to the Chapter-House, are the modern window and tablet in memory of James Russell Lowell, the well-known American poet and prose writer. Lowell was for many years the 225United States Minister in London, and was much beloved, both in this country and his own.
The Chapel of the Pyx, close by the Chapter-House, was formerly the monastic Treasury. At one time the Regalia were kept there. The Chapel is so called from the “pyx,” or box, which contained the standard coins of the realm, used for testing our current coinage. The pyx has now been moved to the Mint, but the Chapel still keeps its ancient name. The Chapel of the Pyx, and the buildings next to it, belong to the Norman time, and over them the monks’ Dormitory was built. Part of the old Dormitory is now used as the Chapter Library, and part as the Great School.
Most of the treasures in the old monastic library were destroyed in the time of Edward VI; and unfortunately, many of the books collected by the earlier Deans were destroyed in a fire in 1694.
Another very interesting part of the monastic buildings was the Refectory, or 226dining-hall of the monks. The first Refectory was built, probably, in the early Norman times, and was a stately room. It was rebuilt in the reign of Edward III, when it was made still larger, and only the lower part of the old Norman walls was kept. Some of this Norman wall can still be seen.
In the book of the “Customs” of the monastery, or “Consuetudines,” as the long Latin name goes, are very strict rules about behaviour at meals. No monk might speak at all, and even the guests might only whisper. No one was to sit with his hand on his chin, or with his hand over his head, because that might look as if he were in pain. No one might lean on his elbows, or stare, or crack nuts with his teeth. All these old rules seem to be very good ones, and might be useful to some people in the twentieth century.
But the Refectory is interesting for many historical reasons. Here, in 1252, Henry III swore to observe Magna Charta. Henry, standing with the Book of the Gospels in 227one hand and a lighted taper in the other, and surrounded by the Archbishops and other great clergy, took his solemn oath. Upon this they all dashed their tapers on the ground, saying “So go out, with smoke and stench, the accursed souls of those who break or pervert the Charter.”
In 1294, Edward I held a great council of clergy and laity in the Refectory at Westminster. On this occasion the King was demanding a subsidy of half their possessions, to the consternation of the assembled council. The Dean of St. Paul’s was trying to persuade the King not to ask so much, and in his anxiety and excitement the poor man fell dead at Edward’s feet. The old history says that Edward took very little notice,—“passed over this event with indifferent eyes,” and insisted on having what he asked.
It was in the Refectory that the Commons impeached Piers Gaveston, the favourite and bad adviser of Edward II. And besides this, the Commons met here several times during 228the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V, so we see that this great hall has been very closely connected with the history of England.
It is supposed that part of the large quantity of stone granted to Protector Somerset was taken from the Refectory. This stone was used by him in the building of Somerset House.
Another important part of the monastery was the Infirmary, the place where the old and infirm monks lived in their old age. It stood on the site of what is now called the Little Cloister, but the present Little Cloister is much more modern, and belongs to what is called the “Jacobean” time.
The low, barrel-vaulted passages which lead from the Great Cloister to the site of the old Infirmary are some of the very oldest parts of the Abbey buildings, as they were built, if not actually during the Confessor’s lifetime, at any rate by the first Norman Kings. They are therefore more than 800 years old. In one of the ancient 229Norman rooms, below the former Dormitory of the monks, the Dean and Chapter have lately arranged a very interesting kind of museum, containing various fragments of old carving and other valuable relics of former times. There, too, have been placed the very oldest of the wax effigies, which are too battered and ragged to be shown with the others in the Islip Chantry. Here are the rather ghastly remains of the effigies of Edward III and Philippa, Henry V and Katherine de Valois, of Mary Tudor and some others.
Round to the left, through an even darker bit of Cloister, was the Infirmary, of which we were just now speaking. The Infirmary was almost a monastery in itself, having a cloister, a garden, and a very beautiful chapel of its own. This chapel was built in the twelfth century, and was dedicated to St. Katherine. Some of its arches still remain in the garden of one of the modern houses. Many interesting things took place in St. Katherine’s Chapel. One 230of these was a famous struggle between the Archbishops of Canterbury and York as to which was to sit in the chief place on the right hand of the Papal Legate. It was settled that the Archbishop of Canterbury was to have the precedence, and be called “Primate of all England.” Another interesting event connected with St. Katherine’s Chapel, and a pleasanter one to think of, is the consecration of St. Hugh of Lincoln in 1186. St. Hugh was a pupil and disciple of St. Bruno, and came to his northern bishopric from the famous monastery of the Grande Chartreuse in the south of France. The old garden of the Infirmary is still the Abbey garden, and lies just beyond the Little Cloister. Close to it is the ancient Jewel House, where the King’s jewels used to be kept. It was built by Richard II on a piece of ground which was bought from the Abbey by Edward III in the last year of his reign.
Other parts of the monastery, such as the granary, the malt-house, brew-house, and 231bake-house, stood in the square or court which is now called Dean’s Yard. Parts of some of these ancient buildings still remain below the modern houses. We shall hear of the granary again, in another chapter.
In former days Dean’s Yard used to be known as “The Elms,” and was enclosed by the old monastery walls.
The Almonry, or place where the alms of the monastery used to be given to the poor, was on the south-west side of Broad Sanctuary. It was close to the Almonry that Caxton set up his printing-press.
We can easily see what an important place a great monastery must have been, when we think of all its different parts, and of the work of various kinds that went on in it.
But we must not take leave of the old monastic buildings and life without saying a few words about the Sanctuary, which played an important part in the Abbey history, and even in the history of England. It has already been told how Queen Elizabeth Woodville “took Sanctuary,” as they said 232in those days, and how Edward V was born while she was at Westminster. The Abbey, like many other great religious houses, had the right of Sanctuary. That is to say, people who took refuge there could not be carried off to prison, or injured in any way. It was considered an awful thing to kill any one who was in Sanctuary. In the rough and cruel times of the Middle Ages it was perhaps a good thing for people to have such a refuge, and no doubt many helpless and innocent persons were then saved from violence and injustice. But, as might be expected, many bad people used to fly into Sanctuary, and as time went on this became a great abuse. Queen Elizabeth took away some of the privileges of Sanctuary, and in James I’s reign it was done away with altogether.
The actual Sanctuary Tower, which was a square Norman fortress, stood very much where Westminster Hospital now stands. Close to this tower there was a belfry, where some famous bells used to hang.
233Near the Sanctuary Tower was the old Gatehouse, or prison, of the monastery. It was in this Gatehouse that Sir Walter Raleigh spent the last night of his life, and other well-known people were imprisoned there, such as John Hampden, and Richard Lovelace, the Cavalier poet.
SOME OF THE ABBOTS
“It is no small thing to dwell in monasteries, or in a congregation, and to live there without complaint, and to persevere faithfully even unto death.”
(The Imitation of Christ.)
The name of Abbot Edwyn, who was the first Abbot to rule over the Confessor’s newly founded monastery, leads us on to think of some few others among the Abbots who played a part in English history. We may begin by mentioning the name of Abbot Gilbert Crispin, a Norman, who was Abbot during the time of the Norman Kings, from 1085 to 1117. He had been a monk at the famous monastery of Bec in Normandy, and was a pupil of St. Anselm and of Lanfranc. Crispin was a learned man, and ruled the Abbey during a stormy 235time in English history. William Rufus seems to have had a great regard for him, and for the love he bore him he was kinder to the Westminster monks than to many others. It was while Crispin was Abbot that the Confessor’s tomb was first opened.
In his time, too, Henry I’s marriage with the Saxon princess, Matilda, took place, and on the same day, 11th November 1100, Matilda’s Coronation by Archbishop Anselm.
Two of the Abbots in the early Plantagenet times obtained from the Pope the right to wear a mitre and other outward marks of dignity. In later days the “mitred Abbot” of Westminster sate in the House of Lords, next after the Bishops. In Henry III’s reign the Abbey was made independent of the Bishop of London, and it keeps that independent position down to our own day.
Abbot Berkyng, who was a great friend and adviser of Henry III, was one of the people who signed Magna Charta. He was a Privy Councillor, and finally Lord 236Treasurer. He was also one of the Lords Justices of the kingdom while Henry III was away at the Welsh wars in 1245. This shows us what important men the Abbots were in those days. Abbot Berkyng died in 1246, and was first buried in front of the altar of Henry III’s Lady Chapel. His body now lies in the South Ambulatory, close to the steps of Henry VII’s Chapel.
The next Abbot we will mention is Abbot Ware. His name is interesting because in 1267, while Henry III was building his new Abbey Church, Abbot Ware went on a visit to Rome, and brought back with him the materials for the wonderful mosaic pavement in the Sacrarium, and the materials for the decoration of the Confessor’s shrine. He also brought with him the Italian workmen who laid the pavement, and who made the lovely glass and gold mosaics for the shrine. It was Abbot Ware who drew up the “customs” of which we have just heard, with all kinds of rules and directions for behaviour.
237We must now pass over nearly a century, and speak of one very able and energetic Abbot who did a great deal of building in the Nave, the cloisters, and elsewhere in the monastery. This was Nicholas Litlington, who was made Abbot in 1362, in succession to Abbot Langham. Abbot Langham, who was made a Cardinal by the Pope, is buried in a very fine tomb in St. Benedict’s Chapel. He left a large sum of money to the Abbey, and this money was used by Abbot Litlington for building. Litlington died in 1386, and is buried in the South Transept.
The fine rooms known as the College Hall and Jerusalem Chamber were built by Abbot Litlington somewhere about the end of Edward III’s reign, when he rebuilt the Abbot’s house. It is thought that there had probably been an earlier Jerusalem Chamber on the same site as the present one. The name is said to have been given to the room because the tapestries which hung on the walls represented scenes from the history of Jerusalem.
238It has already been told how Henry IV died in this famous room, and how Shakspeare describes the scene in his play.
Another interesting bit of English history to be remembered in the Jerusalem Chamber is the banquet given to the French Ambassadors in 1624, by Lord Keeper Williams, then Dean of Westminster, in honour of Charles I’s marriage with Henrietta Maria of France. Dean Williams restored and decorated the room for this occasion, and on the cedarwood mantelpiece are small carved heads representing Charles I and his French bride.
Much important work of various kinds has been done in the Jerusalem Chamber. The Assembly of Divines held its meetings here in 1643, during the time of the Commonwealth, and drew up the Longer and Shorter Catechism, and the Confession of Faith, known as the “Westminster Confession.”
Here, too, the Revisors of the Old and New Testaments used to meet for their great work, which began in 1870.
THE JERUSALEM CHAMBER.
239The Jerusalem Chamber is now used as the Chapter-House, because the actual Chapter-House still belongs to the Government, and not to the Abbey.
The College Hall, which was built by Abbot Litlington to be his refectory or dining-hall, is now used as the dining-hall for the Westminster scholars. It is a beautiful room, with long windows in the Early Perpendicular style, and a minstrels’ gallery at one end. The fireplace, or stove, is in the middle of the room, and gives it a very old-world look. The long tables in the hall are said to be made of chestnut wood from the wrecked ships of the Spanish Armada, and to have been given to the school by Queen Elizabeth.
The College Hall forms one side of the old courtyard of the “Abbot’s place” (or palace) as it was called, part of which house is now the Deanery.
Litlington’s successor, Abbot Colchester, is said to have joined in a conspiracy against Henry IV. This story was evidently accepted 240by Shakspeare, for in his play, King Richard II, he writes—
“The grand Conspirator, Abbot of Westminster,
With clog of conscience and sour melancholy,
Hath yielded up his body to the grave.”
There is, however, no good foundation for the story of Abbot Colchester’s conspiracy, and he lived on quietly until 1420.
Two of the Abbots of Henry VII’s reign, Abbot Esteney and Abbot Islip, did a good deal of building in the church and precincts. The great West Window was set up in Abbot Esteney’s time, and the tracery shows how entirely different the Perpendicular style of architecture is from the Early English, in which the rest of the Abbey is built. The glass of the West Window was put in much later, during the reign of George II.
In Abbot Islip’s time Henry VII’s Chapel was built, the Abbot himself laying the foundation-stone. The western towers were carried up as far as the roof, and some rooms were added to the Abbot’s house. 241One of these is the charming panelled room known as the Jericho Parlour.
In the Nave, just over the Dean’s entrance, is a wooden gallery, which is called the “Abbot’s Pew.” This, too, was put up by Abbot Islip. Islip also fitted up the beautiful little Chapel which is named after him, and in which he is buried. On the frieze of the Chapel are curious little carvings, representing the Abbot’s name. One is an eye, with a hand holding a branch, or slip: I-slip. Another is a man slipping from the branch of a tree: “I slip.” A little design like this is properly called a “rebus,” and there are many of them to be found on tombs erected about that time.
In the Chantry above Islip’s Chapel are the wax effigies, about which we have already read.
The last Abbot, John Feckenham, who was appointed in Mary Tudor’s time, had suffered much for his religion during the reign of Edward VI. But in spite of having himself been persecuted he was a kind and 242tolerant man, and was good to the Protestants who were persecuted in Queen Mary’s time.
Abbot Feckenham went to visit Lady Jane Grey in prison, and was with her on the scaffold, but he could not persuade her to give up her Protestant form of faith.
It was Abbot Feckenham who restored the Confessor’s shrine after it had been all dismantled and partially destroyed in the reign of Henry VIII.
The funeral of Anne of Cleves took place in Feckenham’s time. Anne had become a Roman Catholic. She died at Chelsea in 1557, and was buried with great state by Queen Mary’s order.
On 24th December 1558, Abbot Feckenham must have taken part in the last royal funeral service held in the Abbey according to the Roman Catholic rite. This was the service ordered by Queen Elizabeth on the death of the Emperor Charles V, who was Queen Mary’s father-in-law.
Feckenham quite refused to obey Queen 243Elizabeth’s laws concerning Church matters, although Elizabeth seems to have been very kindly disposed towards him.
When the monastery was dissolved in 1559 the Abbot and some of the monks were sent to the Tower, and Feckenham lived on for twenty-five years in a kind of captivity, though he did not remain at the Tower. He was a very good man: kind to the poor and suffering, and steadfast to what he believed to be right. Since his day the Abbey has been governed by a Dean and Chapter, and the monastic life has ended.
“Enflamed with the study of learning, and the admiration of virtue; stirred up with high hopes of living to be brave men and worthy patriots, dear to God, and famous to all ages.”
Milton (Tract on Education).
Before we say farewell to the Abbey and its story altogether we must speak of one very important part of it, and one that ought to be specially interesting to all English children, namely, the ancient and famous Westminster School.
The history of the School takes us back really to Saxon times, as we know that there was a school belonging to the monastery in the Confessor’s days, and it may have been there even earlier than that. There is a charming little story of that old convent school in the eleventh century. The Abbot 245of Croyland used to tell of the kindness he received from the Lady Editha, wife of the Confessor, when he was a boy at the monk’s school in the cloisters. When she met him coming from school, Editha would question him about his studies, and then, he says: “She would always present me with three or four pieces of money, which were counted out to me by her handmaiden, and then send me to the royal larder to refresh myself.”
The School seems to have been what was called a “Grammar School,” which really meant that Latin was taught there, for in those old days they used to speak of Latin as “grammar.” The school was probably a place of general education, and not intended only for boys who were going to become monks. But, of course, when speaking of Westminster School it must be remembered that it owes its present form, and its wide influence and prosperity, to its foundation by two of the Tudor sovereigns, King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth.
246In 1540, Henry VIII established the School with two masters and forty scholars. There were probably other boys as well. The School went on and flourished during the reigns of Edward VI and Mary, and then, when the monastery was finally dissolved, it was re-established by Queen Elizabeth in 1560. Queen Elizabeth kept very much to her father’s plan, and arranged for a Headmaster, an undermaster, and forty scholars, who are called “King’s scholars” or “Queen’s scholars,” according to whether the sovereign is a King or a Queen. It was settled that the School was to be part of the Collegiate Foundation of St. Peter in Westminster, and the Dean was to be head of the school, just as he was of the rest of the College.
As we already know, the boys dined, as now, in Abbot Litlington’s Refectory, the present College Hall. The old granary of the monastery, which stood in the middle of what is now Dean’s Yard, was fitted up as their dormitory, and there also they 247used to do what a modern boy would call his “home-work.” This arrangement was made for them by the first Dean of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, Dr. William Bill.
In those old days there must have been a good deal of what we should call hardship, for nearly every one now lives a much more comfortable life than people did in the Elizabethan times.
The Great School is part of what used to be the monks’ dormitory. It is a splendid room, first built in the Norman days, and then altered or rebuilt in the fourteenth century. It stands on a lower storey which is part of the Norman buildings. The School was very well restored not many years ago. Besides the Great School there are, of course, many class-rooms.
The King’s scholars now live in a fine building which was begun in Dean Atterbury’s time, and designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It is here that the famous “Westminster Play” is acted every year, about Christmas time. The performance of this 248Latin play is a very old custom, and probably began in the time of Queen Elizabeth. If any member of the Royal Family has died during the year the play is not given.
Another curious old custom in the school is the tossing of the pancake on Shrove Tuesday. This takes place in the Great School. In former days, when classes were held in the Great School, there used to be a curtain hung right across, to divide the upper and lower schools. This curtain hung from an iron rod, which still remains, although the curtain has gone. Every Shrove Tuesday the college cook has to bring a very solid sort of pancake and throw it over this high bar. No doubt he has to practise a good deal before he can do it properly, and he does not always throw it over the first time. The boys scramble to catch it, and if any boy gets the whole pancake the Dean’s Verger leads him to the Dean, who gives him a guinea.
[W. Rice, F.R.P.S.
LITTLE DEAN’S YARD—ENTRANCE TO GREAT SCHOOL.
249In old days the whole school might join in the scramble, and rather a dangerous one it was. Now it has been arranged that only a certain number of boys may struggle for the pancake, these boys being chosen from various forms.
Some of the most celebrated of the Westminster scholars have graves or monuments in the Abbey, and thus are doubly connected with Westminster. A few of these have already been mentioned, as, for example, Ben Jonson, the famous poet and dramatist, and the poets Abraham Cowley, George Herbert, John Dryden, William Cowper, and Robert Southey.
Matthew Prior, a poet much admired in his own day, was also a Westminster scholar. He died in 1721, and was buried near Spenser. His monument is near Poets’ Corner door.
Barton Booth, a well-known actor in the eighteenth century, was at Westminster school. He died in 1733, and his widow put up a monument to him in Poets’ Corner many years afterwards. Two streets in 250Westminster are named in memory of him. One of these is Barton street, and the other is Cowley street, called after Booth’s burial-place at Cowley, in Middlesex. Both these streets are close to the Abbey precincts.
Most people have heard of the famous Headmaster of Westminster in the seventeenth century, Dr. Richard Busby. He was Headmaster during the troublous times of the Civil War and the Commonwealth, and was still headmaster in the reigns of Charles II and James II. He was a very remarkable man, and had many distinguished pupils. He was celebrated both for scholarship and for severity.
It is told of Dr. Busby that on one occasion, when Charles II paid an unexpected visit to the School, he would not take off his hat in the King’s presence, for fear that if he did so the boys might think less of his authority.
Dr. Busby died in 1695, and was buried in the South Transept. His monument is very interesting, partly on account of the 251pathetic figure of Busby and the fine expression of the face.
One of his remarkable pupils is buried near him, and the monuments are quite close to one another. This pupil was Dr. Robert South, a great preacher, and Prebendary of Westminster. South could remember seeing Cromwell when he first appeared in Parliament, and heard Charles I prayed for in the Abbey on the very day of his death, “that black and eternally infamous day of the King’s murder.” Dr. South died in 1716.
There was always a great deal of Royalist feeling in the School, even all through the Commonwealth time, and a leading Independent went so far as to say that it would never be well with the nation until the School was suppressed, so strongly did the boys take the Royalist side.
Dean Atterbury, of whom we have already heard, was a Westminster scholar, and a pupil of Dr. Busby. As we know, he took a great part in the plots to bring back James II’s son, some of which plots 252went on in a secret chamber in the Deanery itself.
Richard Hakluyt, author of the Voyages and Travels; Warren Hastings, of Indian fame; and the well-known statesman, Lord John Russell, all formerly Westminster boys, have already been mentioned. In Statesmen’s Corner is the large monument of Lord Mansfield, Lord Chief Justice of England in 1756. He was also a Westminster scholar, and desired to be buried in the Abbey, “from the love which he bore to the place of his early education.” He died in 1793.
Charles Wesley and his elder brother Samuel were both educated at Westminster School. The memorial to John and Charles Wesley in the South Choir aisle has already been described. It is interesting to remember that Westminster School was in this way directly connected with one of the most important religious movements in England during the eighteenth century.
Among the great soldiers who were at Westminster School were Lord Lucan, the 253Marquis of Anglesey, and Lord Raglan. John Locke, the philosopher, Sir Christopher Wren, the great architect, and Edward Gibbon, author of the famous Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, were also Westminster boys.
And now our travels through the centuries and round the Abbey, with all its memories, must end. We have seen how that little Church on Thorney Isle has gradually grown into this stately Abbey, the home of all the great Anglo-Saxon race. We have seen too, at the same time, how the little English kingdom of the early Saxon days has expanded into a world-wide empire. It is for the children of Great Britain to see that the Abbey shall stand, not only for noble memories, but also for high hopes,—hopes, not only of riches and worldly success, but of the righteousness that exalteth a nation.
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