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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A 750-year wait is well worth a thread of its own, don't you think?


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6597444.ece

Westminster Abbey will get its crowning glory with £23m upgrade


St Paul’s and St Peter’s are famed for their spectacular domes, and Florence Cathedral is regarded as a wonder of Renaissance architecture.

At Westminster Abbey, though, where kings and queens are crowned, poets are buried and martyrs commemorated, only a “stubby little tower” marks its centuries of glory.

Now the Dean and Chapter of the abbey are hoping to build a £10 million “crowning feature”. The new corona is likely to be the most dramatic addition to the London skyline since the Swiss Re building, known as the Gherkin, opened in 2004.

http://www.westminster-abbey.org/whats-on/abbey-development-plan/_nocache

The corona is part of a £23 million development plan that will involve a huge fundraising campaign if it wins approval from several regulatory bodies. The public will be consulted on the design of the corona, which will replace the lantern, a small, plain concrete, pyramid roof above the crossing that stands in front of the high altar where every monarch has been crowned for the past thousand years.



The work would be the first at the medieval abbey for 250 years. Private discussions have been held already with Buckingham Palace.

The intention is to create a gilded structure, which is likely to be composed in part of wood, glass and lead, in time for the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen’s Coronation in June 2013. The Prince of Wales could become the first monarch to be crowned beneath it.

Since being rebuilt by Henry III in the 13th century, the abbey has had frequent additions by great architects including Sir Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor and George Gilbert Scott, and several architects over the centuries have drawn up plans for possible structures where a tower, dome or spire might stand. These plans will be on display in an exhibition that opens today in the Chapter House and is free to visitors.

Like the Roman Catholic cathedral at the other end of Victoria Street, the abbey was never properly finished.

The Dean, the Very Rev John Hall, told The Times that he was not necessarily opposed to a modern design that was in keeping with the overall architecture of the abbey. He said: “If you look at all the great churches, there is a dome, tower or spire. The crossing is the place for that sort of distinction. All we have got is a stubby little tower.

“There will, of course, be some people who say, ‘Don’t change our skyline after all this time.’ But what we’re hoping to demonstrate to people is how the abbey has scarcely stood still in its long history.”

The Dean and Chapter also propose to open up the upper gallery, known as the triforium, for a museum and exhibition area that will show many more of the historic treasures and artefacts than can be displayed at present.

A lift will be built in a discreet corner on the abbey’s south face behind Poets’ Corner. There are also plans for an education centre for children and a refectory in the cellarium, to be called the Cellarium Café, to provide improved refreshments for the million visitors who come to the abbey each year
Dr Hall said: “Westminster Abbey is recognised by people in every part of the world. Royal weddings and funerals have all attracted huge television audiences, as did the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, the first to be televised live. It is an odd accident of history that, where so many great churches have a magnificent tower or spire or dome, the abbey remains unfinished over the site of every coronation since that of William the Conqueror on Christmas Day 1066. Now is the time to consider afresh what should be built there.”

Crowning glory

More than 760 years after Henry III commissioned it, Westminster Abbey looks as if it will finally receive its finishing touch. It is best not to rush these things (Valentine Low writes).

The construction of a corona is probably the one major building project in London where one can be certain that the Prince of Wales is unlikely to contest. He has already been advised of the Abbey’s plans, and seeing how he is in line to be the first king crowned under the new corona, they are not going to go ahead with anything that does not receive his wholehearted approval.



The completion date for the corona is 2013, which means that it will be completed in a shorter time than any other works in the Abbey’s history. Henry III devoted nearly 30 years of his life to rebuilding the abbey, spending £45,000 of his own money, the equivalent of millions today, but by the time he died in 1272 the nave was only partly completed. His son, Edward I, was more interested in raising funds for wars than for churches, so work on the abbey paused. When construction began again a century later, the man in charge, Abbot Nicholas Litlyngton, insisted on sticking to the plans of Henry III’s master mason, which is why a church built over more than 150 years has architectural unity.

Henry VII added the Lady Chapel at the start of the 16th century, but no sooner was it completed than his successor, Henry VIII, announced the dissolution of the monasteries. Henry VIII had a soft spot for the abbey, though, and had it redesignated as a cathedral.

There was still the vexing question of how to finish it. Sir Christopher Wren, who started the abbey’s west towers, suggested a tower with a 12-sided spire on top, but the idea was rejected because it would have been too heavy. His pupil, Nicholas Hawksmoor, who finished the west towers, and George Gilbert Scott, who remodelled the north side in the 19th century, both had a go, too, although neither of their plans came to fruition. Perhaps the abbey will get lucky this time.


Wren's spire design;




Hawksmoor's typically odd cupola;



Seddon & Lamb's more conventional design;



Pietr Fabris's design added spires to the west front as well;



It will be fascinating to see the designs - the Dean has not ruled out a modern-style spire but somehow I don't think Richard Rogers will be applying at the moment (although it would be great if he did!)
 

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Londinium langur
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Great idea. I think a slender gothic spire would work best.
 

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Well as long as it doesn't detract from the view of Parliament from the end of a muddy path in the backyard of some ancient stately home in an outer borough I guess it would be acceptable.
 

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cockney sparrow
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I hope Calatrava puts in a proposal, it could work well. He worked on a design for a cathedral in New York about 15 years ago, he had much more scope for design and it never got built, but it shows how well modern architecture and gothic architecture can go together if done right.



 

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Administrator
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the historical research in that article is atrocious. the abbey as a stone building was originally commissioned by edward the confessor and then enlarged by henry the third because he was obsessed with the cult of edward.
 

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Quite a daring idea in this day and age of 'if it isn't broke don't fix it', but I am pleased to hear on the news that the clergy man understood the great knowledge of this building and its ever changing past and now future.. I don't agree though that this should be a modern design in any way shape or form.
 

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Indeed, a modern design would ruin this building. I am not personally keen on Fosters dome on the Riechstag either, although that is a lot more low key. The Wren and Fabris designs look pretty funky. Wrens would be a fantastic compliment to his own Dome at St Pauls (maybe that was his idea?) Build it after the Shard and it could be that the Old Spires of London are reflecting the Modern Spires of London, a little bit of flip reversal there.
 

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i'm a fan of the Sir Christopher Wren spire. Stunning, absolutely stunning. I would love to have seen all of the monasteries before King H:cheers:enry 8th took charge. I THINK THEY SHOULD BE REBUILT
 

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^ The Roman Catholic church can hardly supply enough priests for the minority catholic population in the UK, let alone start filling monastaries!
 

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Lincoln - London - Greece
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This idea came and went for Lincoln Cathedral to replace the spires brought down by an earthquake - which once made it the tallest building in the world!

I think they were going to made out of some kind of fibreglass material as anything else would have been too heavy...

I'm not sure why it didn't come to fruition. I didn't think it was that far fetched, as it was returning the building to how it had been intended.

But who would have paid?
 

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didn't happen because of lack of money, no other reason. of course, there's plenty of money for cleaning st pauls cathedral and building a new corona on westminster abbey... by plenty of money i mean more than the EH grant to all our other cathedrals combined for say a decade.

Like the Roman Catholic cathedral at the other end of Victoria Street, the abbey was never properly finished.
says who??? i like how the abbey are going on about how it was never finished as justification. coming next, why the tower of london should be extended because of some meglomanic plans made 500 years ago. it was never finished! newsflash is most cathedrals and abbeys are not "finished" according to the designs made before the reformation.

not sure why they want a crown spire on westminster abbey anyway, there's a single cathedral in england with it and that's newcastle. i can't believe they are actually hinting about scottish baronial gothic here... perhaps they could put up a couple of turrets too. even then the crowns of newcastle and st giles in edinburgh are on the top of towers, westminster abbey has no central crossing tower and to be honest i like it without that, most english cathedrals do have a central crossing tower whereas westminster abbey is more in the mould of a french cathedral.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
personally I'd love to see something that could be illuminated from inside at night. I think a simple and restrained architectural feature like the lantern on Ely Cathedral would work well on Westminster Abbey rather than a gilded & pierced crown.

THis is one of gothic's shots from SSN;http://www.skyscrapernews.com/buildings.php?id=392

 

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they don't want something like that though, which by the way is the only one of its type in the entire world. they want something that's a scottish architectural detail to stick on something that's a piece of living english history. newcastle cathedral has a crown spire because... well of the scottish influences nearby at the time of construction.
 

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Boston Matt
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This is an exciting development! well im excited anyway, they have deffinately got to keep this new spire in keeping with the existing abbey. Something tall and slender which will sit in harmony with the Houses of Parliament across the street. It will make for a magnificent view from the London Eye! imagine the superb collection of Gothic towers and spires! I wote about Sir Christopher Wren in my dissertation and in one of the books i read is a picture of a wooden model for a potential new tower topped with a spire proposed for the abbey. I will try and find it and post it later.
http://img29.imageshack.us/i/picture050j.jpg/]
 

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BLAND
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A fascinating thread! The Abbey was badly damaged by the 1580 Earthquake (the Earthquake Shakespeare witnessed and refers to in Romeo and Juliet " tis since the earthquake now, 11 years....".

"Further afield stones fell from the cathedral at Ely. Part of Stratford Castle in Essex collapsed. About half dozen chimney stacks came down in London, a pinnacle on Westminster Abbey was damaged and stones falling from the roof of Christ's Church Hospital killed two children, The top of the bell tower of St Margaret's church at Stoke Golding, Leicester collapsed" :http://www.geologyshop.co.uk/ukequakes.htm

Another much smaller quake in 1750 did this:

"In 1750 the top of one of the piers on the north side of the Abbey fell down, by earthquake, with the iron and lead that had fastened it. Several houses fell in, and many chimneys were damaged. Another shock had been felt during the preceding month."


That and everything else you might want to know about the building is here:

From: 'Westminster Abbey: Historical ceremonies', Old and New London: Volume 3 (1878), pp. 401-411. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=45164 Date accessed: 30 June 2009.
 

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BLAND
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Not bad. I would prefer this though

 
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