The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4

Allen, Thomas


St. Margaret's.


This edifice, which is situated on the north side of the abbey church, near Henry the 's chapel, was founded by Edward the confessor in the year , for the convenience of the monks, attached to the conventual church, and was dedicated to St. Margaret the virgin, and martyr of Antioch. Being in a ruinous state it was rebuilt, in the reign of king Edward I. by the merchants and other parishioners, the chancel excepted, which was built at the expence of the abbot of , about the year .

In the year , this church was not only repaired, but the tower cased, and mostly rebuilt, at a charge of , granted by Parliament, in consideration of its being looked upon as a national foundation, for the use of the . It had before been repeatedly repaired, particularly in the years , , and , when the north gallery was rebuilt at the sole charge of sir John Cutler, knight and baronet, for the benefit of the poor.

In , it was repaired at the expense of , also given by parliament. It was also repaired in and . The plan of the church gives a nave and side aisles, with a chancel at the east end, which is internally octagonal and externally square. A square tower with a staircase attached to its south east angle, and octagonal buttresses to the other angles, projects from the division from the west of the north wall. The tower is in stories, in the north front of the is an entrance, under a low pointed arch, surmounted by a square cornice, above which is a pannel with the following inscription:

Sumptu Publico Favente optime Principe Georgio, Secundo Ex Senatus Brittannici Auctoritate Instaurata Turre atq refecta, Altius Honore Superbieus attollit caput sanctae Margarelae, Deo sacra Aedes Anno Domini, MDCCXXXVI Honoratssimis Viris et ob Beneficia in in Parochianos Saepius collata, non sine Laude nominandis. Arthuro Onslow Senatus Britannici maximo sito merito iterum Prolocutore Roberto Walpole nobilissimi ordirus et Periscelidis Equite Praefeciorum erarij Primo et Scaccarii Cancellario Vire in consilijs ac Laboribus Publicis Maxime omnium indefesso unoq multis pare Carolo Wager Equite Aurato, Summo Rei Navali praepositorum Septem-viro et Gulielmb Barone Sundon de Ardagh in Hibernia Fisco Publico Curado Quinque viro Ornatissimis Duumviris Senatorijs Westmonasteriensibus.



In the west side is a low arched window divided by mullions into lights, this is of the original windows of the church ; the east front has no window or opening, the south side of the nave abuts on the church ; the story has a large window of lights in the north front divided horizontally b a transom, and the head of the arch occupied by subarches and quaterfoil divisions; this window is also original, in the west front is a circular opening, the east front is also unoccupied: the story which is cleat of the church has a circular opening, covered with a square-headed cornice in every aspect, the north and west fronts have each dials. The story has a large arched window enclosed in a square-headed recess, in every aspect it is filled with mullions, forming a bungling imitation of the ancient window below, and in the spandrils are cherubs; the elevation is finished with unsightly battlements, the octangular buttresses are continued in height above the parapet, the ancient finish is destroyed, and paltry pinnacles notched at the angles substituted. From the centre of the platform rises an octangular turret of wood ending in a cupola, sustaining a flag staff. The west front of the church has an entrance in the centre, partly modernized, the enriched spandrils remain, but jambs and imposts of Roman architecture have been inserted in lieu of the ancient columns; this entrance is covered by a porch of Batty Langley's Gothic, which defies description. Above this is a large arched window, the ancient mullions destroyed, and uprights of Roman architecture substituted for them; this window is walled up, similar windows occupy the ends of the aisles, the elevation is finished with a plain parapet and coping.

The south side of the church has windows, all of which have been treated as those in the west front; near the east end is an attached vestry, in the modern Gothic style, and a recurrence of the western porch; the clerestory retains its ancient windows unaltered; they are formed in pairs, and each is divided by a single mullion into lights with arched heads; the elevations finish as before. The east front has a large window in the centre of lights, made by mullions, with perpendicular divisions; in the head of the arch on each side is a small light, and above is a paltry imitation of an ancient rose window; the elevation finishes with some nondescript ornamental work, and at the angles are pinnacles as the tower. The aisles have windows of lights in the worst style of modern Gothic, below which are low arched entrances; the elevation finishes with Chinese battlements. The north side has open windows of the same description as in the other aisle, and blank window; on this side a single buttress remains; the clerestory is a copy of the other side. From this description it will be seen that the church has been completely modernized by the tasteless architect employed by the ; the former decorations were beautiful specimens of ancient architecture; the present the worst examples of carpenters' Gothic; the modern


appearance given to the church by the entire new ashlaring of Portland stone completes the character of the exterior. The lower story of the tower forms a porch with groined ceiling; it communicates with the church by an arch in which is an original pointed door-way with enriched spandrils of a handsome design.

The interior retains more of its ancient features; the nave and aisles are divided by pointed arches springing from the usual clusters of columns; the spandrils are enriched with quatrefoil pannels; a sweeping cornice bounds the arches springing from corbels carved with angels holding scrolls, above the columns, from which also spring small columns attached to the walls of the clerestory, and sustaining the arched supports of the roof, which is entirely covered with modern pannelling, sustained on trusses in the form of low pointed arches with pierced spandrils. The internal termination of the chancel, as before observed, takes an octangular form, and is highly ornamented, though much of the false taste which prevails in the exterior is observable; it is separated from the church by a handsome and spacious pointed arch, the modern columns of which have Prince-of-Wales's feather capitals; on the side walls are niches containing paintings of Moses and Aaron in chiaroscuro; the ceiling is groined; in the centre is a large division, painted with the descending dove. The eastern divisions in the chancel have each a window; the lateral ones are filled with poorly designed tracery, and derive a false light from the small windows before noticed in the exterior; below the windows are the usual inscriptions: the central division is occupied by the great east window, below which is the altar screen, which is composed of arches, with canopies in the style of an altar-tomb of the century; the central arches are recessed, and contain the altar; the lateral ones niches, having seats for the officiating clergymen thrust into them; at the back of the recess and just above the table, is a relief of the

Meeting at Emmans,

copied from Titian's painting of that subject. The entire chancel was rebuilt in its present form, and the existing decorations added in . A gallery is erected at the west end, in which is the speaker's pew; behind this is the organ in a richly ornamented case; other galleries occupy the aisles, the fronts are pannelled in the style of the church. The pulpit and desks are situated on different sides of the centre aisle in front of the altar rails; the former is richly but clumsily carved in oak; it stands on a pillar, and is sustained by flying buttresses copied from Henry 's chapel. The pulpit and desks were set up in , at which time the speaker's seat was removed to the gallery. The glory of this church is its splendid east window, representing the whole history of the Crucifixion of our Lord, and the Thieves. These figures are so extremely well executed that there may be seen the muscles of each limb, occasioned by the different positions in which they are expanded on the crosses.

In the centre compartment is our Saviour on the cross; over his


head the letters INRI; an angel on the right side holds chalices to catch the blood from the wounds in the hands and side; a on the left hand has a single chalice for the wound in that hand, and a acts in like manner at the feet.

Round the cross of the Saviour, are the Roman officers and soldiers attending the execution, with some of the chief rulers among the Jews. At the foot are Mary Magdalen, and Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and sister to the Virgin Mary, who stands in the front, and is represented as fainting away. On the hem of her robe the letters M A J: D E: (mater, deo.)

On the right hand of the cross (which is on the left facing the window) is the Roman centurion on horseback, who, with a lance pierces our Saviour's side, from which blood and water are represented issuing. The horse whereon the Roman centurion sits, is finely executed, with full spirit and vigour. Behind the cross, a little to the left, is a small perspective view of the city of Jerusalem. On the right is the penitent thief; over his head an angel receiving his soul in the form of a child, and on the left the reviling thief; over his head the devil flying away with his soul on his back.

The capital figure on the left hand, attending in a niche curiously delineated, is that of St. George of Cappadocia, the reputed patron saint of England, standing, completely armed at all points, holding in his hands, partly unfurled, a white banner charged with a red cross, and behind him lies at his feet a red dragon. This representation of him is not unlike that described by Eusebius, in his life of Constantine the Great, who erected his statue, and over his head was displayed a banner with the cross, and under his feet a dragon. The banner he holds is a symbol of his dying in defence of the cross; and the red dragon under his feet alluding to his conquest over that

red dragon, the devil, who burneth with fury, and is red with the blood of the faithful.

The figure on the right hand, standing in a niche, (like that of St. George) is that of Catharine the virgin, a martyr of Alexandria, holding in her right hand a book, and resting her left on a sword, her head encircled with a crown of glory.

At the bottom, towards the left, is a hermit holding something resembling a root, and looking up towards the virgin saint, drawn about breast high. On the right hand, towards the bottom, is part of a wheel, as an emblematical device of the manner by which she suffered martyrdom: hence the name of

Catharine wheel,

in use at the present day. This saint was martyred under Maximus I. emperor of the western monarchy, A. D. .

The figure on the left hand, under St. George, is Henry VII. at his devotions, in his royal robes, crowned with a diadem,


and kneeling under a canopy of state, in a small oratory, with a book before him.

The figure, on the right hand, under St. Catharine, is that of Elizabeth, Henry's consort, also at her devotions, and kneeling under a state canopy with a book before her: her devotion is expressed in a very lively manner in her countenance.

Above the whole is a row of small panes, in which are representations of angels attendant on the crucifixion. On the left hand, in a small pane, is the moon, and on the opposite side the sun, alluding to the preternatural manner of the darkness (the sun not being eclipsed, the moon being at full) at our Saviour's crucifixion.

On the left of these figures, and over the moon, is placed a white rose, within a red , to signify that the house of York was united to the house of Lancaster, in the person of Henry and Elizabeth. On the opposite side, and over the sun, is placed a pomegranate to signify the houses of Lancaster and York's descent from the royal house of Spain; John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, married Constance, the eldest daughter and coheir of Peter, king of Castile and Leon; and his brother Edmund of Langley, duke of York, (great grandfather of Elizabeth, wife of Henry VII.) married Isabel, the youngest daughter and coheir of the aforesaid king. The pomegranate in a field-or. are the arms of Granada, in Spain, which kingdom was added to that of Castile, by Ferdinand V. A. D. , who united Spain into monarchy, having married Isabel queen of Castile and Leon.

Such is the description of this beautiful window. It is proper that some notice should be taken of the history of this ancient piece of workmanship.

The magistrates of Dort, in Holland, being desirous of presenting Henry VII. something worthy to adorn his magnificent chapel, then building at , directed this window to be made, which was years in finishing; king Henry and his queen sending their pictures to Dort, whence their portraits are delineated.

Henry dying before the window was-completed, it fell into the hands of an abbot of Waltham, who placed it in his abbey church, where it remained till the dissolution of that abbey by Henry VIII. in the year . To preserve it from being destroyed, it was removed by Robert Fuller, the last abbot of Waltham, to a private chapel at New Hall, an ancient seat belonging to the Butlers, earls of Ormond, in Wiltshire; which afterwards came into the hands of Thomas Boleyn, father of Ann Boleyn, Henry VIII.'s queen.

In the reign of queen Elizabeth, New Hall was in the possession of Thomas Ratcliff, earl of Sussex, and it was purchased from this family by Thomas Villiers, duke of Buckingham; his son sold it to general Monk, who having more taste than fell to the lot of most generals of his time, caused this window to be buried under ground,


during the rebellion against Charles I. and the subsequent usurpation of Oliver Cromwell. Monk well knew, that the puritans would not fail to demolish this fine effort of genius and talent, as they had done several others, should it;fall into their Vandalic hands. It is said, that during these disgraceful times, painted windows of the most beautiful kind, even to the amount of , were destroyed by those wolves in sheep's clothing.

After the Restoration, Monk caused this window to be replaced in his chapel at New Hall.

In , Christopher, duke of Albemarle, son and heir of the late general Monk, died without issue. This seat, therefore, devolved to his duchess, but she not chusing to reside there, it became ruinous and decayed.

The estate was afterwards purchased, of the heirs of the duke's family, by John Olmius, esq. who, in a few years, demolished the greatest part of the structure, including the chapel; the-window, however, he preserved, with a view to its being sold for some church.

For some time, it lay cased up in boxes, until it came to the knowledge of Mr. Conyers, when he purchased it for his chapel at Copthall, near Epping; and paid Mr. Price, a great artist in that way, a large sum for repairing it. It remained at Copthall till Mr. Conyer's son John built a new house, at some distance from the old seat, and having no further use for the window, sold it to the committee appointed for repairing and beautifying the church of , .

Such is the history of this justly celebrated window; and it is not a little remarkable, that after the many dangers to which it has been exposed, and the progressive changes it has undergone, it should, after the lapse of years, be found to occupy a place so immediately contiguous to the for which it was originally designed.

Of its antiquity no reasonable doubt can be entertained: the portraits of Henry VII. and his queen, and the several badges of the royal houses of York,. Lancaster, and Spain, which are found in the panes of this window are almost demonstrative of its age.

The side windows of the chancel are filled with stained glass, containing statues of St. Michael, and another with a book in his hand, and white and red roses, pomegranates, &c.

In the vestibule at the west end of the church, is an ancient pew of oak, still existing; it is handsomely decorated with tracery, in the style of the century, and is now used for the distribution of bread to the poor.

The font is a modern basin of marble, on a pillar of the same, totally devoid of ornament.

This church is in length l feet, breadth , height , and of the tower to the summit of the pinnacles, feet.

The monuments are very numerous, and are in a high state of


preservation, a fact that confers great credit on the parochial authorities. At the east end of the south aisle are the following:--A neat marble tablet, surmounted by a bust of the deceased, to Mrs. Margaret Graham, who died , aged . A handsome marble tablet to John Leng, bishop of Norwich, who died , aged .

A profile bust and inscription, to W. Arnold, who died , aged . Near this is a handsome monument to John Lekeux, who died , aged ; above in a niche is his bust, surmounted by a pediment.

A neat marble tablet inscribed as follows:--

To the memory of William Caxton, who introduced into Great the art of Printing; and who A. D. , or earlier, exercised that art in the abbey of . This tablet in remembrance of to whom the literature of his country is so largely indebted was raised anno domini MDCCCXX, by the Roxburghe club. Earl Spencer, K. G. president.

In this part of the church is a handsome altar-tomb with the recumbent effigies of a lady in her robes of estate, in colours; her head rests on a double cushion, and her feet on a couching lion. Behind her is a man kneeling in armour, and above are shields of arms, &c. It is to the memory of Mary, lady Dudley, daughter of William, lord Howard of Effingham, who died .--

In the south aisle are the following:----

On a painted board:

Within the walls of this church was deposited the body of the great sir Walter Raleigh, knt. on the day he was beheaded in Old , , , Ano. Dom. .

Reader, should you reflect on his error, Remember his many virtues and that he was a mortal.

An ancient brass with an engraving, representing a man and his son, and a woman and daughters at prayer. It is to the memory of the family of Cole, .

By the side of the stairs leading to the gallery, over the south aisle, is a handsome bust with drapery coloured, to the memory of James Palmer, B. D. born , died .

At the west end of the south aisle is a marble monument to P. Colquhoun, LL.D. who died , aged . Above is a basso relievo of a hive, and emblems of

Justice and Commerce.

In the north aisle is the handsome monument and bust of Cornelius Vandun; he is represented in colours, in the costume of the yeoman of the guard, with E. R. on his breast. Round his bust is inscribed:

Obiit anno Domini, 1577

, Bvried


of Sept.

Aetatis Svae




Cornelius Vandun lieth here borne at Breda in Brabant, sovldiour with K. Henry at Tvrney, yeoman of the gard and vsher to K. Henry, K. Edward, Q. Mary and Q. Eliabeth; of honest and vertvovs lyfe, a carfvl man for pore folke, who in the ende of this towne, dyd bvyld for pore widowe


howses of his owne coste.



A monument with the effigies of men and a woman kneeling at a tomb, in the costume of the time coloured, to R. Peters, esq.

At the east end of this aisle are numerous monuments.

A handsome modern monument of white marble, to the memory of sir Peter Parker, bart. who was killed on , in landing some troops on the coast of North America. He was aged . Above the inscription is a basso relievo representing his death. On the summit is a sarcophagus, on which is a figure supporting a bust of the deceased.

On the same side is a handsome monument of the Corinthian order, with a male and female effigy, kneeling within recesses, to Thomas Seymour, son of the earl of Hertford, and Isabel his wife. He died , she Aug. .

On the opposite side is a handsome monument of a lady kneeling at her devotions, in colours, and beneath a basso relievo of men and women in similar attitudes. It is to the memory of Dorothy Stafford, wife of sir William Stafford, knt. who died , aged . Near it is a similar to Blanch Parr, chief gentlewoman to queen Elizabeth, who

died a maide,

, aged .

Near this is a handsome monument, representing a man in half armour, kneeling within an arch; his right hand resting on his breast. Above are arms, a canopy with drapery, &c. It is to Francis Egioke who died . Below this monument is with grating before it, representing a male and female at prayers, in colours, to Thomas Arneway and Margaret his wife. He was buried , she . This monument was repaired and beautified in .

The next object of our notice is


[] Mr. Pennant records the meditated destruction of this fine window by a reverend zealot, who took offence at this whimsical representation.

[] Rev. chap. xii. v. 3. Ornaments of Churches considered.

This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
Component ID:
To Cite:
TARC Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights
View all images in this book
 Title Page
CHAPTER I: Site, local divisions, and government of the City of Westminster; history of the Abbey; Coronation Ceremonies; and lists of the Abbots and Deans
CHAPTER II: Westminster Abbey, and Description of the Tombs and Monuments
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of St. Margaret's Parish
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of St. John's Parish, Westminster
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, Westminster
CHAPTER VI: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. James, Westminster
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Anne, Westminster
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Mary-le-strand
CHAPTER X: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. Clement Danes
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of the parish of st. George, Hanover Square
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of the Precinct of the Savoy
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of the Inns of Court
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of the Precincts of the Charter-house and Ely Place, and the Liberty of the Rolls
 CHAPTER XV: Historical Notices of the Borough of Southwark
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Olave, Southwark
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of the parish of St. John, Southwark
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Thomas, Southwark
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. George's, Southwark
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of St. Saviour's Parish
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of the parist of Christ-church in the County of Surrey
 CHAPTER XXII: A List of the Principal Books, &c that have been published in Illustration of the Antiquities, History, Topography, and other subjects treated of in this Work
 Addenda et Corrigienda