During the past two months, the world has had reason to focus on Westminster Abbey. Certainly the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Westminster Abbey brought the Abbey to the world attention. As you all know, I spent three days on my pitch looking at the Abbey waiting for the royal wedding. I spent hours looking at the sculptural details on the building and reading my MICHELIN GUIDE about every detail I could find. The day after the royal wedding, I knew there would be long lines to go into the Abbey to see the decorations still which were installed for this great event, so I walked down to the Abbey at 8:00 AM to avoid a huge line. After I had wandered through the Abbey under controlled circumstances to control the crowds, I went into the Cloisters and was able to go into the Chapter House which I had not seen for many years.
I spoke to the Abbey guide who was standing by the entrance into the CHAPTER HOUSE who told me that few people spend time in the cloisters after they have spent time in the Abbey except to exit the building. Well, I was really pleased that I could visit this historic place. I walked up the stairs and into the CHAPTER HOUSE — it took my breath away! My eyes started bouncing around the octagon room like ping-pong as I stood there completely overwhelmed by the feeling of pure medieval beauty. I kept saying to myself: WHY HAVE YOU NOT COME HERE AFTER ALL THESE YEARS? And then I said to myself: YOU HAVEN’T WRITTEN ABOUT THE CHAPTER HOUSE on the blog. All I can say here is THE CHAPTER HOUSE is an absolutely first rate, first choice DESTINATION for a visitor to London.
This CHAPTER HOUSE in the East Cloister dates to the 1250′s. It is one of the largest chapter houses in England. the monks met here every day for prayers and to read a chapter from the rule of St. Benedict and discuss the day’s work. The King’s Great Council first assembled here in 1257. This was effectively the beginning of the English Parliament. The House of Commons regularly used the room in the 14th century before they transferred to the Palace of Westminster. After having been a repository for government records from the 1540′s it was restored in Victorian times by Sir Gilbert Scott.
The room is lavishly adorned with sculpture and wall paintings of the Apocalypse with the Last Judgement painted on the east wall. It contains one of the finest medieval tile pavements in England. The windows incorporate Victorian stained glass and new post-war designs. An inscription underneath them recalls the work of the original masons: ”In the handiwork of their craft is their prayer.”
In the vestibule of the Chapter House is the oldest door in Britain, dated to the 1050′s.
This is a fabulous site that must be visited. I apologize for not having written this article earlier. This is serious stuff.
Thomas Moore email: TMooreSr@me.com Telephone: 801.791.9918