Chapels of Westminster Abbey

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There is a series of beautiful chapels branching off from the choir. Briefly, in the order in which they are generally shown to visitors...

The Chapel of St. Benedict, best seen from the so-called Poet's Corner, is chiefly noticeable for the remains of ancient decorations on the south wall. The Chapel of St. Edmund, in addition to the tombs of John of Eltham, Elizabeth Russel, and the great novelist, Lord Lytton, contains a monument to William de Valence, noticeable as the most ancient existing example of the use of enamel for monumental decoration in England.

The Chapel of St. Nicolas is enriched with a monument to George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, and his wife, by Nicolas Stone, one of our earliest sculptors. Henry the Seventh's Chapel, the subject of our illustration, consisting of a nave, two aisles, and five smaller chapels at the east end, forming a combination of the choir of the abbey, and derived from the French chevet, termination or apse enclosed in chapels.

The chief beauty of this exquisite church within a church is the fan tracery roof, considered the richest specimen of Tudor vaulting in England; but we must also call attention to the sculptures of the arch passing from Henry V.'s tomb over the twelve steps giving access to the chapel, which are cited by Flaxman as one of three typical examples of the English sculpture of the period, and to the few remaining statues in the chapel itself, which are amongst the finest works by English sculptors of the reign of Henry VII.

The tomb of that monarch and his wife, by Torregiano, Michel Angelo's great rival, should also be carefully examined.

The Chapel of Edward the Confessor, entered from the ambulatory or cloister dividing it from the chapels of St. John, St. Paul, etc., is remarkable for the shrine of Edward the Confessor, occupying the centre (which shares with those at Ely and St Albans the honour of being one of the only three existing examples of this form of monument, once so common in England), and for the monuments to Henry III. and his wife, with the earliest extant recumbent metal effigies by William Torel.

The Confessor's Chapel also contains the chairs used in the coronation ceremonies of our English sovereigns, one of which encloses the famous stone of Scone, known as the fatal stone, or stone of destiny, on which all the kings of Scotland sat for their coronation, till it was carried off by Edward I. in 1296.

St. Paul's Chapel boasts of a portrait statue of Watt by the great Chantrey.

The Chapels of St. Erasmus, St. John the Baptist, and St. Islip are mainly of interest as they contain the tombs of early worthies connected with the cathedral.

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