The Garden Guide

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


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We now walk across the church, passing between the High Altar, on the left, and the Choir, on the right, to the south Transept. The Sanctuary, or space within the altar-rails, where coronations take place, has a venerable pavement made of mosaics brought from Rome by Abbot Ware and laid down here about 1268 by Master Odericus. On the left are the three most beautiful architectural Tombs in the Abbey, dating from between circa 1298 and 1325. The nearest one is that of Aveline, Countess of Lancaster (died circa 1273), first wife of Edmund Crouchback. The others commemorate Aymer de Valence (died 1324), who fought under Edward I. and Edward II., and Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster (died 1296), second son of Henry III. and founder of the house of Lancaster. All three are adorned with carved shields and the original rich painting and gilding have recently been made visible again. On the canopies of the two later tombs the deceased appear on horseback. The statuettes around Aymer de Valence's tomb are among the most exquisite small sculptures in England; the little figure at the head supported by two angels represents the departing soul. On the right side of the Sanctuary are sedilia, dating from the time of Edward I. but retaining few traces of their former decoration, and an ancient tapestry from Westminster School, on which is hung a Portrait of Richard II., the oldest contemporary portrait of any English monarch and one of the most important existing examples of medieval portraiture, ascribed to Beauneveu of Valenciennes or to Jacquemont de Hesdin. Below is the Renaissance tomb of Anne of Cleves (died 1557), fourth wife of Henry VIII. The choir-stalls are modern (1848).