The Garden Guide

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

Westminster Abbey 3

Previous - Next

The usual ENTRANCE to the Church is by the North Door, which, owing to its proximity to the palace, was the one most used by ancient royal processions. The small entrance in the south transept (Poets' Corner) provided a convenient private access from the palace. The visitor should study the beautiful interior of the church as a whole, before proceeding to inspect the various monuments. Westminster Abbey is 513 feet in length, including Henry VII.'s Chapel, 200 feet broad across the transepts, and 75 feet broad across the nave and aisles. The nave, separated from the aisles by pointed arches supported on circular columns round each of which are grouped eight slender shafts, is the loftiest Gothic nave in England (102 feet; York Minster 100 feet). Above the arches run the triforium, one of the most beautiful features of the church, with exquisite tracery, and, still higher, the fine clerestory. Behind the triforium gallery is an upper aisle running round the church, and a visit to it (special permission necessary) is interesting for the sake of the views of the church and of the sculptures placed too high to be well seen from below. Each transept possesses a large rose-window, below which are fine carved figures. The south transept has no west aisle, as the east walk of the cloister, with the muniment-room above it, here impinges on the church. The choir-apse is rounded and contains the Chapel of St. Edward, so that the high altar is placed somewhat far forward, and the ritual choir extends into the first three bays of the nave. There is little ancient glass in the church, though a few fragments have been patched together in the large east windows. We now proceed to inspect the tombs and monuments, regretting that in too many cases the sculptures are unworthy both of their subject and their situation. Many of the monuments commemorate men who are not buried in the Abbey.