The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 5 Westminster Abbey


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Burials in the nave did not take place until after the Reformation, so that the monuments there are all comparatively modern. But one of the most recent is perhaps the most impressive in the whole Abbey. A few paces from the west door, a slab in the pavement in the middle of the nave marks the tomb of an UNKNOWN WARRIOR, brought from Flanders and interred here on November 11th, 1920, as representative of all the nameless British dead in the Great War,' the bravely dumb that did their deed and scorned to blot it with a name.' He rests in earth brought from the battlefields. On an adjacent pillar hangs the Congressional Medal of Honour, the highest military distinction in the United States. The passage on the north side of the ritual choir, by which we enter the nave, is known as the NORTH CHOIR AISLE, and is sometimes called the 'Musicians' Aisle.' On the north wall are fine examples of early heraldry in the shape of coats-of-arms of France, Germany, and the great barons of about 1260, including the double-tailed lion of Simon de Montfort. To our left, facing the north transept, statue, by Thrupp, of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton (1786-1845), advocate of the abolition of slavery. On the north wall are tablets to Dr. John Blow (1648-1708), organist of the Abbey and composer, and to Dr. Charles Burney (1726-1814), father of Fanny Burney. Above is a good monument, by Flaxman, to George Lindsay Johnstons (died 1815). Opposite, Michael William Balfe (1808-70), the composer. Bust of Dr. Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625; buried at Canterbury), composer and organist. By the pillar and on a slab in the floor is commemorated Henry Purcell (1658 ?-95), the great composer and organist of the Abbey. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781-1826), a great colonial governor, by Chantrey. By the next pillar, William Wilberforce (1759-1833), the devoted opponent of the slavetrade, by Joseph. On the floor, Sir William Sterndale Bennett (1816-75) and Sir Charles V. Stanford (1852-1924), the composers. In the next bay are medallions of John Couch Adams (1819-92), Lord Lister (1827-1912), Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), Sir William Ramsay (1852-1916), and Charles Darwin (1809-82), the scientists. Slabs in the pavement near the beginning of the NORTH AISLE OF THE NAVE, which we now enter, mark the graves of Darwin and of Sir John Herschel (1792-1871), the astronomer. On the screen at the end of the choir, Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), discoverer of the laws of gravity; large monument by Rysbrack. In the second bay beyond the choir we may observe the transition from 13th to 14th century work in the building of the Abbey; the later work, due to the successors of Henry III., though designed on the earlier, has no diapering in the spandrels and the bases of the pillars are different. The stained-glass windows in the first and second bays commemorate Lord Kelvin (1824-1907; buried beside Newton) and Lord Strathcona (1820-1914). In the 3rd bay, Spencer Perceval (1762-1812), Prime Minister, who was shot by a madman in the lobby of the old House of Commons; monument with a relief depicting the murder, by Westmacott. In the 5th bay a small stone in the pavement, inscribed 'O Rare Ben Jonson,' marks the grave of the poet Ben Jonson (1573 ?-1637), who was buried in an upright position; the original stone may be seen at the foot of the adjoining wall, beneath the monument to Thomas Banks (1735-1805), the sculptor. The adjacent brass marks the resting-place of John Hunter (1728-93), the famous surgeon, whose remains were removed from St. Martin's-in-the-Fields in 1859. Close by, with its back to the north-west or BELFRY TOWER (now containing a full octave of bells, two of them presented in 1919), which Dean Stanley called the 'Whig Corner,' is a large monument to Charles James Fox (1749-1806), by Westmacott. Between the pillars on the south side of the tower, Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquis of Salisbury (1830-1903), Prime Minister, by west Goscombe John. Beneath the tower, behind Fox's monument, Viscount Howe (1725 ?-58), by Scheemakers, erected by the Province of Massachusetts while it was still a British colony. On the north wall is a large monument, by Baily, to the third Lord Holland (1773-1840), patron of literature. To the left, John, Earl Russell (17921878). On the west wall are busts of Zachary Macaulay (1768-1838), father of Lord Macaulay, by Weekes, Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914), by John Tweed, and General Gordon (1833-85), the defender of Khartum, by Onslow Ford. Above the main west door, William Pitt (1759-1806), the great statesman and orator, by Westmacott; History is seen recording his words, while Anarchy cowers in chains. On the north side of the door, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury (1801-85), the philanthropist, by Boehm. The south-west TOWER, or OLD BAPTISTERY, christened 'Little Poets' Corner' by Dean Stanley, is now the CHAPEL OF THE HOLY CROSS, dedicated to all who gave their lives in the Great War. By its west wall is a seated statue of William Wordsworth (1770-1850; buried at Grasmere), by Thrupp. On the south wall a monument with graceful allegorical figures by Alfred Gilbert commemorates Henry Fawcett (1833-84), the blind statesman. Above are the busts of John Keble (17921866), author of 'The Christian Year,' Thomas Arnold (1795-1842), headmaster of Rugby, Frederick D. Maurice (1805-72), Christian socialist, Matthew Arnold (1822-88), critic and poet, and Charles Kingsley (1819-75), novelist. The stained glass in the window was inserted by Mr. George W. Childs, of Philadelphia, in memory of the poets George Herbert (1593-1633) and William Cowper (1731-1800). SOUTH AISLE OF NAVE. The door near the west end of this aisle leads to the deanery. Above it is a small gallery of oak called the Abbot's Pew, erected by Abbot Islip (16th century); it communicates with the deanery. Below the gallery, William Congreve (1670-1729), the dramatist; the monument is by Bird. Above, window to the Flying Services of 1914-19. A slab in the pavement in front marks the resting-place of Bishop Atterbury (1662-1732) and one a little farther on indicates the grave of Anne Oldfield (1683-1730), the actress. The window above commemorates the war services of the Y.M.C.A. and the founder of the Association, Sir George Williams (1821-1905). In the 4th bay from the baptistery, to the right of a door leading to the cloisters, bust, by Woolner, of Lord Lawrence (1811-79), Governor-General of India. Above the door, Field-Marshal George Wade (1673-1748), well known for the bridges and roads he made in the Scottish Highlands when suppressing the rebellion of 1745; monument by Roubiliac. To the left of the door, General Sir James Outram (1803-63), one of the heroes of the Indian Mutiny, by Noble; in the bas-relief General Havelock is represented between Outram and Lord Clyde. In the centre of the nave are slabs marking the graves of Lawrence, Wade, and Outram, and also of Colin Campbell, Lord Clyde (1792-1863), General Sir George Pollock (1786-1872), David Livingstone (1813-73), the celebrated African traveller and missionary, Robert Stephenson (1803-59), the engineer, and of Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860), Sir G. G. Scott (1811-78), and G. E. Street (1824-81), the architects. A little farther west is the grave of Archbishop Trench (1807-86). A stone nearer the west end of the nave marks the spot where the remains of George Peabody (1795-1869), the American philanthropist, lay for a time before being removed to Massachusetts. Close to this last lies the Unknown Warrior. In the second bay beyond the cloister door, on either side of a large allegorical monument by Roubiliac, are (right) a tablet to Sir William Temple (died 1699) and his wife Dorothy Osborne (died 1695), and (left) a bust of Sidney, Earl Godolphin (died 1712). The tomb of Sir Palmes Fairborne (1644-80), in the next bay, has an epitaph by Dryden. Major John Andre (1751-80), hanged by Washington as a spy during the American War; on the bas-relief Washington is receiving Andre's vain petition for a soldier's death; the wreath of autumn leaves was presented by Americans. In this, and the next bays, are several interesting old coats-of-arms; the Confessor's cross and the three leopards of England should be noticed (beside Shovel's monument; see below). SOUTH CHOIR AISLE, Under the organ, Thomas Thynn (1648-82), a favourite of Charles II., assassinated while driving in his coach in London, as depicted in the bas-relief, at the instigation of Count Konigsmark, who hoped to obtain the hand of Thynn's wealthy wife; monument by Quellin. To the right in the next bay. Dr. Isaac Watts (1674-1748), the hymn-writer, by Banks. Colonel Chester (1821-82), the American genealogist, who made a valuable compilation of the Abbey registers. John Wesley (1703-91) and Charles Wesley (1707-88), both buried elsewhere. Opposite, Thomas Owen (died 1598), an old monument, with a fine alabaster figure once painted and gilded. General Pasquale Paoli (1725-1807), the Corsican patriot who died as a refugee in England (remains now in Corsica); bust by Flaxman. To the right in the next bay is a large and inappropriate monument to Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel (1650-1707), by Bird. Above, Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723), the only painter commemorated in the Abbey; the monument was designed by himself and was executed by Rysbrack. In the next bay is another door into the cloisters (see below); opposite are two good monuments, one to Sir Thomas Richardson (died 1635), by Le Sueur, and one to William Thynne (died 1584).