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Westminster Abbey

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Rowan
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Westminster Abbey

Post by Rowan » Wed September 22nd, 2010, 6:33 pm

Hi guys!

I'm back with yet another question. The question about universities was for my writing. This new question is because of something I've been reading.

I know you can read of the history of Westminster Abbey online, but since I've been reading Helen Hollick's Harold the King which features in small part the building of the Abbey, I've been wondering about the size. I know it was pretty big in its own right when Edward the Confessor commissioned it to be built, but is there anywhere online - or perhaps in someone's massive research volumes - that might give the actual dimensions of the Abbey? I'd like to know how tall it was originally to compare it to how it is now. Just for my own sake. Nothing more. :) I mean I know it's massive now....

Thanks loads!

Rowan

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Susan
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Post by Susan » Wed September 22nd, 2010, 11:14 pm

Not sure if there are dimensions, but there is a section about the architecture at the official website. Look under "History".
http://www.westminster-abbey.org/home

Also try Googling "Westminster Abbey" +height
Use the quotation marks and the +
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Post by annis » Thu September 23rd, 2010, 6:56 am

Westminster Abbey was consecrated in 1065. It was inspired by the Romanesque churches of Normandy where Edward grew up, and described as being of considerable size (don't think actual dimensions are mentioned), cruciform in plan, and with a central and two western towers. In 1245 Henry III pulled down the whole of Edward's church (except the nave) and replaced it with the present abbey church in the pointed Gothic style of the period.

Image

This is an artist's impression of the Abbey church built by Edward the Confessor, as shown on the Westminster Abbey website - probably based on the description in Matthew Paris' La Estoire de Seint Aeward le Rei, and the image below.

Image

This is the only known contemporary image of Westminster Abbey as originally built by Edward the Confessor, depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry. Detail is of Edward's funeral procession - "Here the body of King Edward is carried to the church."

Image
Harold's was the first coronation to be held at the Abbey.

Edited to say that I just came across this info:

To the east of the old monastery church, Edward constructed a huge Romanesque building. Little remains of this church above ground level, yet excavations show that it was 322ft (98.2m) long, making it one of the biggest churches in Europe at the time.

Sourcehere, at Westminster Abbey: Icon
Last edited by annis on Fri September 24th, 2010, 10:47 pm, edited 27 times in total.

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Post by Vanessa » Thu September 23rd, 2010, 9:02 am

You could try contacting them via the website. Hopefully they won't think you're casing the Abbey by asking for it's dimensions and height!! LOL.
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Rowan
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Post by Rowan » Thu September 23rd, 2010, 12:32 pm

If I did that, Vanessa, I would certainly explain my reasons. :p I don't want to be banned from ever visiting the UK again. :p

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Post by annis » Fri September 24th, 2010, 9:54 pm

There's further info about the building of Edward the Confessor's Westminster church in the publication Proceedings of the Battle Conference on Anglo-Norman Studies 1980 By Reginald Allen Brown.

See chapter The Romanesque Rebuilding of Westminster Abbey by R D H Gem, pg 33

(Fast link: Click on blue hyperlink in the Contents) Unfortunately not all the material is available due to copyright.

In Westminster Abbey - Its Architecture, History And Monuments - Volume 1 By Helen Marshall Pratt, the author details Matthew Paris' description of Edward's church before it was pulled down by Henry III see pgs 42-43 of Chapter 2, The Saxon Church and the Norman Church of Edward the Confessor

This piece is from a 1858 translation by Henry Richards Luard in his Lives of Edward the Confessor- now considered a bit inaccurate, but it gives the impression:

“Now he laid the foundations of the church
With square blocks of grey stone:
Its foundations are deep,
The front towards the east he makes round,
The stones are very strong and hard:
In the centre rises a tower,
And two at the western front,
And fine and large bells he hangs there:
The pillars and entablature
Are rich without and within,
At the bases and capitals
The work rises grand and royal.
Sculptured are the stones
And storied the windows.
He makes there a cloister
A chapter house in front
Towards the east, vaulted and round.”
Last edited by annis on Sat September 25th, 2010, 9:28 am, edited 10 times in total.

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Vanessa
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Post by Vanessa » Sat September 25th, 2010, 9:07 am

[quote=""Rowan""]If I did that, Vanessa, I would certainly explain my reasons. :p I don't want to be banned from ever visiting the UK again. :p [/quote]

No, you don't want the SAS waiting for you at the airport! LOL.
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Post by annis » Sun September 26th, 2010, 6:59 pm

One interesting story associated with the Westminster Abbey church is that it was once the site of a Roman temple of Apollo. Although this claim was made by Geoffrey of Monmouth, whose histories have to be considered pretty suspect, there may be something in it. There were springs on Thorn Eye, and springs were often sacred places to the Britons. Sacred sites tend to be reused. Helen Marshall Pratt, in her book Westminster Abbey, says that the remains of a Roman building were found on site during excavations, so there may possibly be some basis to the legend.

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Rowan
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Post by Rowan » Tue September 28th, 2010, 8:17 pm

Well I wrote to the librarian at Westminster and quickly received a response. None of the measurements given tell me how tall the towers were. I guess I'll never know. :( :p

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