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Westminster Abbey Chapter House (Hardback)

The History, Art and Architecture of 'A Chapter House Beyond Compare'

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Art > Art History P&S History > Architecture P&S History > Humanities > Post-Medieval History P&S History > Medieval World > Medieval Art & Architecture

Imprint: Society of Antiquaries of London
Pages: 305
Illustrations: 255 illus (155 in colour)
ISBN: 9780854312955
Published: 15th March 2010
Casemate UK Academic


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This volume tells the complete story of the Westminster Abbey chapter house, which ranks as one of the spectacular achievements of European Gothic art and architecture; and that is precisely what its builder, King Henry III, intended. Begun in the mid-1240s, and completed within a decade, its pre-eminence was recognized in its own day, when the chronicler Matthew Paris described Westminster as having 'a chapter house beyond compare'. Papers by leading scholars in the field of medieval art and architecture reveal the reasons for the construction of the chapter house and trace the possible influences upon the master mason in charge of the project. The subsequent history of the structure is revealed as it evolved from a meeting place of the king's Great Court, the predecessor of the English Parliament, and as a royal treasury into a repository for government archives after the Dissolution, home to the Public Record Office until the late 1850s, and its subsequent restoration at the hands of Sir George Gilbert Scott. Now under the care of English Heritage, the chapter house has just been cleaned and restored again, leading to the spectacular light-filled building that we see today, to which full justice is done by this richly illustrated book, filled with pictures of the architectural and sculptural details, the medieval tilework and the wall painting that justify the motto inscribed in the chapter house floor: 'as the rose is the flower of flowers, so is this the house of houses'.

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