(active 1245-1269 in London)

Interior view

Westminster Abbey, London

The first truly Romanesque British building was commissioned by Edward the Confessor, who in the 1040s had various old buildings belonging to the Abbey of St. Peter in London demolished and replaced by a large-scale building. It is possible, with reference to a contemporary description, pictures on the Bayeux tapestry and a few excavations, to produce the following reconstruction of the building: the two towers at the west end connected to a nave with twelve bays and an alternating system of supports, a projecting transept with a tower over the crossing, and tribunes in each arm, and finally a choir with chapels in echelon.

You can view the ground plan of Westminster Abbey.

Begun in 1245, the Romanesque church, the burial place of Edward the Confessor, was rebuilt in French Gothic style at the request of King Henry III. The master mason by the name of Henry of Reyns created a French style polygonal choir whose apse formed five sides of an octagon, an ambulatory with radiating chapels, and an aisled transept. The elevation, with its soaring arcade, shallow middle story, and high clerestory is in keeping with French models, the most important of model being Reims Cathedral. The most striking feature of the choir is its height. No English religious buildings had reached 32 metres until then (Reims was 38 metres high).

In spite of the close connection with French Gothic architecture, Westminster Abbey remains an English building. Individual French elements were selected, but immediately merged with English traditions.

The photo shows the choir and nave, looking east.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.