Westminster Abbey – Chapter House


A jewel - a structure 'perfect in itself, of a purely English type'

MBA's specialist conservation arm Stow and Beale Conservation Architects completed a major conservation project at Westminster Abbey Chapter House in 2010 for clients English Heritage. Simon Thurley of EH described it as 'probably one of the most comprehensive programmes of conservation ever'. conservation

English Heritage's largest in-house conservation project

For 18 months a team of conservationists, master stonemasons and craftsmen cleaned, repaired and restored the structure, under the direction of Barry Stow RIBA, supported by Marcus Beale RIBA and Kate Sanders RIBA.

History

The Chapter House, constructed 1250-1253, was used as a place of government and meetings: in medieval times as meeting place for the House of Commons and subsequently as a document archive. In 1866-72 George Gilbert Scott restored the roof and upper parts which had been in his words 'dreadfully mutilated'. He described the Chapter House as 'a structure perfect in itself, of a purely English type as to its plan and outline, and as carrying out the principle of window tracery in a fuller and grander degree than any part of the church.' GG Scott's work, in contrast to so much Victorian restoration, benefited... Read more.

A jewel – a structure ‘perfect in itself, of a purely English type’

MBA’s specialist conservation arm Stow and Beale Conservation Architects completed a major conservation project at Westminster Abbey Chapter House in 2010 for clients English Heritage. Simon Thurley of EH described it as ‘probably one of the most comprehensive programmes of conservation ever’. conservation

English Heritage’s largest in-house conservation project

For 18 months a team of conservationists, master stonemasons and craftsmen cleaned, repaired and restored the structure, under the direction of Barry Stow RIBA, supported by Marcus Beale RIBA and Kate Sanders RIBA.

History

The Chapter House, constructed 1250-1253, was used as a place of government and meetings: in medieval times as meeting place for the House of Commons and subsequently as a document archive. In 1866-72 George Gilbert Scott restored the roof and upper parts which had been in his words ‘dreadfully mutilated’. He described the Chapter House as ‘a structure perfect in itself, of a purely English type as to its plan and outline, and as carrying out the principle of window tracery in a fuller and grander degree than any part of the church.’

GG Scott’s work, in contrast to so much Victorian restoration, benefited the public face of the Abbey complex as well as preserving the fine interior.

Delivery

The conservation programme, on site from November 2008 – May 2010 completed on time and under budget, despite an unusually harsh winter. ┬áThis was due to a spirit of positive collaboration and teamwork throughout the team.

The work included external stonework repairs, restoration of fine carved detail, repairs to the window tracery and fixings, and works to the roof, including improved access. 32 stone heads were replaced, and, in medieval tradition these now depict masons, craftsmen, the dean and chapter, and the architects.

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Dates
2009
Location
London, UK

Project Architect
Stow and Beale Architects
Client
English Heritage