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Westminster Abbey


It was during the reign of Mary I that a partial restoration of the shrine took place. The stone base was re-assembled, the coffin was placed, in the absence of a feretory, in the top part of the stone base and the canopy positioned on top. The Chapel has a Cosmati floor, similar to that before the High Altar, and a blank space in the design shows where the shrine once stood; it also indicates that the shrine was originally raised up on a platform, making the canopy visible beyond the western screen. The canopy of the shrine has recently been restored, and hopefully one day the rest of the shrine will also be restored.

And within the chapel can be seen the Coronation Chair and the tombs of five kings and four queens. At the eastern end is the tomb and Chantey Chapel of Henry Y, embellished with carvings including scenes of Henry Y’s coronation. The effigy of the king once had a silver head and silver regalia, and was covered in silver regalia, and was covered in silver gilt, but this precious metal was stolen in 1546.

Eleanor of Castle, first wife of Edward I, lies beside the Chapel. Her body was carried to Westminster from Lincoln, a memorial cross being erected at each place where the funeral procession rested.

Beside her lies Henry III, responsible for the rebuilding of the Abbey, in a tomb of Purbeck marble. Next to his tomb is that of Edward I. Richard II and Anne of Bohemia, Edward III and Philippa of Hainnault, and Catherine de Valois, Henry Y’s Queen, also lie in this chapel.

THE SOUTH TRANSEPT is lit by a large rose window, with glass dating from 1902. Beneath it, in the angles above the right and left arches, are two of the finest carvings in the Abbey, depicting sensing angels. In addition to the many monuments there are two fine late thirteen-century wall-paintings, uncovered in 1936, to be seen by the door leading into St Faith’s Chapel. They depict Christ showing his wounds to Doubting Thomas, and St Christopher. Beside the south wall rises the dormer staircase, once used by the monks going from their dormitory to the Choir for their night offices.

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