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WESTMINSTER ABBEY: CHAPEL OF ST EDWARD THE CONFESSOR.
Shewing the Shrine of St. Edward, the Coronation Chair: Henry the Fifth's Chapd. &c.
lent to the Queen's Mati for 1 wholl yeare; not in any wise cawsing any brother of yo' companye to bear any p'ticular charge, or losse, towards the same, but onlye of the rents and stocke of yo' said hall; wh some of LX£. you shall pay uppon Twysdaye next comyng in the mornyng, at Mr. Stonley's howse in Aldarsgate Strete; and thear you shall receive an aquyttaunce for the same in forme appoynted. Fayle youe not hereof as you will awnswer for the contrarye at your p'yll. Yeoven at the Gwyldhall of London, the XXVII of August, 1575."
WESTMINSTER ABBEY-SHRINE OF ST. EDWARD
In the Chapel of St. Edward the Confessor, which originally formed the eastern termination of the Abbey Church, lie inhumed the remains of the royal founder himself, encircled by the ashes of kindred sovereigns, some of whom were the greatest and most heroic that ever swayed the British sceptre. King Edward's Shrine stands nearly in the middle of the chapel, and had formerly an altar attached to it, at which multitudes of every degree have made their oblations, and, in the credulous fullness of their hearts, besought the intercessional agency of the sainted monarch, either for the cure of disease, or for the remission of retributional punishments for acknowledged sins.
Edward's decease occurred on the 5th of January, 1065-66, and he was interred on the 12th of that month, before the high altar, within the church which
and a half, and its length nine feet five inches. On each side are three recessed arches, or niches, trefoilheaded, and separated by pilasters, above which is a range of seven compartments, once panelled with lozenges of porphyry,* (placed alternately upright and lengthwise) within involved guilloche borderings. The entablature was originally supported at the east end by two spiral or twisted pillars, only the capital of one of which now remains; and at the west end by a mosaic facing, resting on similar pillars, but the latter have no capitals, and their plinths, if such there be, are embedded in the pavement. The sides, back, and soffite of every arch have been enriched with mosaic pannellings of various patterns, not any two arches exhibiting a corresponding design; yet the tesseræ, though fixed in a very strong cement, have been mostly picked out, not so much, perhaps, from mere wantonness, or purposed mischief, as from the superstitious veneration of devotees.† On the lower fascia
* At the west end of this shrine, two lozenges of porphyry, each about nine inches in width, still rema : 1821 there was also a third lozenge, but that was stolen by some workman on refitting the Church after the coronation of George IV.
+ Such great sanctity is still attached to this Shrine, that a part of the stone basement seat, on the east side of the south transept, has been worn into a deep hollow by the feet of devout Catholics, who occasionally attend here early of a morning, and who, from that point, can just obtain a view of the upper division of the shrine. It is still, also, within the recollection of some aged members of this Church, that previously to
of the architrave was the following jingling inscription, in Roman characters. The letters inserted in italics, as here printed, may yet be traced by the indents visible in the cement.
ANNO MILLENO-DOMINI, CVM SEPTUAGENO ET BIS CENTENO-CVM COMPLETO QUASI DENO, HOC OPVS EST FACTVM-QVOD PETRVS Duxit in actum, Romanvs civis :-hoмO CAVSAM NOSCERE SI VIS, REX FVIT HENRICVS-SANCTI PRESENTIS AMICVS. In place of the above verses, which it is probable were effaced at the Reformation, the following inscription is partly visible, in gilt capitals on a dark ground, which Widmore, in his "History of Westminster Abbey," attributes to Abbot Feckenham. The words in italics
are supplied from that writer.
On the south side-OMNIBVS INSIGNIS: VIRTVTVM: LAVDIBVS: HEROS: SANCTVS: EDWARDVS.
On the east end-Confessor, rex venerandus: quinto
On the north side―Jani MORIENS 1065. SVPER: ÆTHERA SCANDIT. SVRSVM CORDA. I. F.
The upper division of the Shrine, which is comparatively modern, and of wainscot, consists of two
the French Revolution, the very dust and sweepings of the Shrine and Chapel of St. Edward were also preserved, and exported to Spain and Portugal in barrels! But even in that trade, adulterations were practised, and much unholy dust, swept from other chapels, was mingled with the rubbish of this Shrine.
stories of unequal dimensions. On each side of the lower story, are six semicircular arches, panelled and separated from each other by pilasters of the Ionic order, and at each end is a broad flat arch, Aanked by similar pilasters. The other story has four arches on each side, and two at the ends, separated by coupled pilasters of the Corinthian order. Each story had its proper entablature, but these have been nearly demolished, and the whole was surmounted by a gable roof, which has been entirely destroyed. All this woodwork (which was probably erected by Abbot Feckenham, in Queen Mary's reign) was inlaid, to correspond in some measure with the mosaic enrichments of the ancient shrine. The present coffin of the pious Edward, which
be seen from the parapet of Henry V.'s Chapel, is deposited within the ancient stone-work, about the height of the architrave. It was made by order of James II. (who commanded the old coffin to be enclosed within it) of strong planks, two inches thick, cramped or banded with iron. The entire height, from the pavement to the top of the shrine, is fourteen feet nine inches. Originally the upper part of the shrine was plated with gold, and adorned with precious stones, and the whole is recorded to have been so admirably wrought that the workmanship exceeded the materials.
This Shrine, as well as the adjacent monument of King Henry III, has been generally ascribed to Pietro Cavalini, on the authority of Vertue and Walpole, but there is every reason to believe that the words