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Westminster Abbey
Collegiate Church of St Peter Westminster

Underground: Westminster: Circle and District lines. Hours: Monday to Friday 9.30am-3.30pm; Wednesday to 7.00pm; Saturday 9.30am - 2.30pm
However check this as there are special events which will alter these times
Last admission 1 hour before closing. Sunday: no visitors, worship only. Entrance Fee:
£23.00,  But there are concessions.
No Photography

Part I: Introduction  The Choir, Sanctuary & Edward the Confessor's Chapel

   Some personal
comments. A visit to Westminster Abbey is expensive, whatever yardstick you might use and prohibitively expensive, others might add; there is also a strict 'no photography' policy. When I last visited the Abbey a few years ago visitors were not even allowed to enter Edward the Confessor's Chapel to examine the magnificent collection of effigies, let alone photograph them. Flash photography can be very annoying for other visitors and harmful to fabrics and other delicate materials; the use of tripods is also annoying, often obstructive and even dangerous. Many modern digital cameras have high effective ASA ratings so flash and tripods are not usually necessary, unless you are looking for a very high standard of work. So, no, I do not understand their reasons for the blanket ban on photography, not that taking photographs among the crowds would give very satisfactory results anyway. The real reason I suspect that photography is not allowed in the Abbey should become apparent from reading this short article.

    I used to be told years ago when I took photographs in churches that 'the church is a house of God, not a museum'; I would accept that if primarily were added before house and but also were added before a museum. This attitude is much more reasonable now and it is accepted that many churches do contain historical and artistic artifacts which many people wish to see and which would certainly grace a museum; in fact, one or two, I have found, have been transferred from the one to the other. Westminster Abbey feels like neither of these but, very regrettably, rather more like a business, such as Madame Tussaud's.

   At one time you could buy a number of copyright photographs from the Abbey shop but these were of the usual tourists' places, such as the west front of the church, the coronation chair, the grave of the Unknown Soldier and several more. Now (2019) there are listed on the Abbey's web site excellent photographs of very many of the monuments, which you can buy from the Abbey as a print or a digital edition; I do not know if they list all the monuments but certainly every one that I have checked. This also applies to the nearby St Margaret's Church . I do not know how much this collection of photographs would cost butit is probably beyond my budget and, as they are copyright, it is highly unlikely I would be granted permission to use them on this site even if I bought them all, despite the fact that this site is not a commercial venture.

   However, there were the good old days in the 70's when on Wednesday evenings entry was free (surely not, I must be becoming forgetful!) and photography was not only allowed but actually encouraged. This was specifically a photographers' time and the Abbey was remarkably quiet. Was it always so expensive: I think not, as I was taken there as a child from a working class family who certainly could not have afforded the prices if they were in line with those of today. Now, however, it is the most expensive church to visit in the world! There once was another age and other deans.

   So this page is a bit of a hotchpotch with some photographs from the good old days and various prints and drawings. Some of these latter are, however, aspects of the monuments you cannot - and never could - see, let alone photograph. And at least this site is free to all visitors.


Some Notes on the Burial Places of the Kings and Queens of England

    Westminster Abbey is often thought to be the burial place of the kings and queens of England and later, following the union of the crowns, of Scotland too. It was certainly an important one but by no means the only one: St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle is the next major burial place but others are scattered around England, either in the individual's foundation , or according to the individual's wish, current practice or  necessity at the time.

   Prior to the Norman Conquest many of the Anglo-Saxon  and Danish kings were buried  in Winchester, their capital.  Cynegils, Cynewulf, Ecbert and Ӕthelwulf were buried in the Old Minster and later moved to Winchester Cathedral; their names appear on the Mortuary Chests there. The sons of Ӕthelwulf, Ӕthelbald and Ӕthelbert were buried in Sherborne Abbey, Dorset. Their brother Ӕthelred I was buried at Wimborne Minster also in Dorset, where there is a later brass commemorating him. With the next brother, the more famous Ӕlfred, we move back to Winchester again: he and his son, Edward the Elder were initially buried in the New Minster there but their remains were subsequently translated to Hyde Abbey on the outskirts of the city.

   Edward the Elder's son, Ӕthelstan - regarded as the first King of England rather than the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex - was buried at Malmesbury in Wiltshire; there is later monument to him in the Abbey Church in that town. His half brother, Edmund I, was buried in Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset. His younger brother, Eadred, was buried in the Old Minster, Winchester and his remains later translated to Winchester Cathedral, where his name too appears on one of the mortuary chests. The eldest son of Edmund I,  Edwy, was also buried at Winchester but nothing further is known of the fate of his remains. Edwy's younger brother, Edgar was also buried at Glastonbury.

   I am aware that I have not referred to the burials of the kings of other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms except Wessex, partly because the early English kings were descended from the Wessex kings and partly because it would take up too much space here. I will add a page on this subject in due course.

   Edgar's son by his first wife, Edward the Martyr,  who was famously murdered by his step-mother, was buried  at Wareham, Dorset but later translated to Shaftesbury Abbey, also Dorset; what were thought to be his remains were again translated in modern times to Brookwood Cemetery, but  that is another tale .  The half brother of the murdered Edward was Ӕthelred II, known as 'The Unready', and was buried in Old St Paul's Cathedral, London. Ӕthelred's son Edmund II, known as Edmund Ironside, was another English king to be buried at Glastonbury. However there are some doubts about this; for details click here.

   We now briefly return to Winchester: Cnut the Dane was buried in the Old Minster but his remains were translated to the Cathedral and now reside in one, or maybe two, of the mortuary chests there. His son Harold I, known as 'Harefoot', was buried in Westminster Abbey. However his body was disinterred by his half brother, Harthacanut, and thrown into a ditch, to be later recovered and buried in St Clement Danes, London. That brother, Harthacnut, was buried in the Old Minster, Winchester; his body was translated to the Cathedral and buried on the north side of the choir.

   Edward the Confessor was a son of Ӕthelred II and half brother of  Harthacnut. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, which he had rebuilt, and his body translated to a new shrine on a further rebuilding of the Abbey by King Henry III. Harold II was killed at the Battle of Hastings and his body may have been buried at Waltham Abbey in Essex.

   So the first English king to be buried in Westminster Abbey was one whose reign was short and about whom little is known as well as being  no longer there. But there was another earlier king (alluded to above) who was supposedly buried there too: Sæberht was a king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Essex, who founded a church on the site of the present Westminster Abbey and was buried there in about 616. When the new Abbey was being built in the reign of Henry III, his body was said to have been discovered during excavations. His remains were then buried in a new tomb in the reconstructed abbey which may be seen today. Rather confusingly although the Ӕthelreds, Edmunds and Harolds are numbered before the Norman Conquest, the Edwards are not: therefore Edward the Confessor was not Edward I, he will come later.

Westminster Abbey will now have to await the next royal burial: the English kings were now gone as it was the turn of the Europeans.

William I, known as 'The Bastard' or 'The Conqueror' was, as Duke of Normandy, buried in Caen, Normandy as was his wife Matilda of Flanders, both in separate churches. William II 'Rufus' was buried in Winchester Cathedral, possibly under the tower, but his bones were later moved into one, or two, of the mortuary chests. Henry I, with his queen Adeliza, was buried in his foundation of Reading Abbey, Berkshire and Stephen, together with his wife Matilda, in Faversham Abbey, Kent, their own foundation.

    Of the next dynasty - the Plantagenets or Angevins - Henry II and Richard I (The Lion Heart)  were buried at Fontevraud Abbey (Maine-et-Loire)  France, where you may visit their fine monuments. Henry's Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine and John's Queen, Isabelle of Angouleme, were also buried there. King Richard's Queen, Berengaria of Navarre, was buried in her foundation of L'Épau Abbey, near Le Mans (Sarthe). Although Richard's body was buried at Fontevraud, his heart was buried at Rouen (Normandy), where he has a second monument. King John was buried in Worcester Cathedral. All of these may be photographed as often as you wish.

      Incidentally, there have been calls over the years from people who really should have  known better  for the monuments in France to be brought to England; Queen Victoria herself was indeed one of these people. The idea was that they should all lie together in Westminster Abbey as one big happy family. There are a number of objections to this foolishness: the early Angevins were lords of a number of large domains,  often called collectively the Angevin Empire, an incorrect although convenient term, of which England was only one small part; the early Angevins had often expressed in their wills where they had wished to be buried; they had died more or less near to their future burial site; and the local authorities of the departments where the monuments were situated, although not necessarily the national government, raised strong objections to their heritage being so looted. Another objection is that the monuments at Fontevraud indeed exist but the neither the remains nor coffins of the commemorated have ever been found, despite extensive modern excavations. So collecting them all together is merely some foolish and ill conceived form of false national pride. We can be thankful that this nonsense was never carried out: we can visit these monument relatively cheaply, examine them closely and freely take photographs of them today. Whereas in Westminster Abbey none of this would  be now at all possible.

We now, albeit briefly, return to Westminster Abbey where Henry III was buried in his newly built church. There were actually two reasons for his burial in this place:  as we have seen, kings were often buried in their foundations (or , refoundation in this cae) and he wished to be buried near Edward the Confessor, his hero, as well. This appeared to set a precedent for the future as  his son Edward I, as well as the latter's Queen, Eleanor of  Castile, were also buried there. However Henry's Queen, Eleanor of Province was not: she had retired to Amesbury Abbey after her husband's death and was buried there; there is no marked grave. King Edward II, Edward I's son, was murdered in Berkeley Castle and was buried in Gloucester Cathedral, then an abbey, as the abbot had been prepared to accept the late King's body in difficult and dangerous times. Both Edward III and his Queen, Philippa of Hainault were buried in Westminster Abbey.

   Then there was another hiatus: Edward III's son, Edward the Black Prince, predeceased his father, so never became king; he was, as he had wished, buried in Canterbury Cathedral not Westminster Abbey. His son became king as Richard II at the age of ten only to be deposed some years later by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke who became  king as Henry IV, the first king of the Lancastrian dynasty. Richard was probably subsequently murdered and then buried, initially at least, at King's Langley in Hertfordshire.  Henry IV, the first of the Lancastrian kings, was himself buried in Canterbury Cathedral with his Queen, Joan of Navarre, where his fine tomb may be seen. His son, Henry V, moved the body of Richard II from King's Langley into the tomb that Richard had prepared for himself and his Queen, Anne of Bohemia, in Westminster Abbey. This act of reconciliation was to repeat itself in a few years to come. Henry V himself was buried in Westminster Abbey as was later his Queen, Catherine of Valois. Henry V's son became king as Henry VI at aged six months and was soon King of France as well, when the 100 Years' War was still raging. Not a good beginning at all and then there was the War of the Roses as well. Henry was eventually deposed, probably murdered, and buried in Chertsey Abbey in Surrey, so not a good end either.

   Now comes what might have been a new beginning. Edward IV was the first of the Yorkist dynasty, which was doomed to be short lived;  he died relatively young and was buried, not at Westminster, but in St George's Chapel Windsor. He may have intended this chapel to become a Yorkist mausoleum but this, because of subsequent developments, never came about. He young son, Edward V, together with the latter's younger brother were confined to the Tower of London and disappeared. Some skeletons were found in the Tower of London were thought to be those of these 'Princes in the Tower' and were subsequently buried in Westminster Abbey. Their uncle, Edward IV's brother became king as Richard III. His reign was short lived but one of his actions was to moved the body of the Lancastrian Henry VI from Chertsey, where, as indicated above, he had been buried, to St George's Chapel, Winsor to be buried directly opposite Edward IV. History had repeated itself as Henry IV has done exactly the same  with the body of Richard II and probably for the very same reason. Richard III's reign was short: he was killed at the battle of Bosworth by the first of the Tudors, Henry VII, and unceremoniously buried in Greyfriar's church, Leicester. His body was discovered in the site of this church in recent times and reburied in Leicester Cathedral.

  So ends the Plantagenet dynasty - and its branches - and the Tudor Dynasty begins.  I will deal with this later.

   Please note that Westminster Abbey contains very many burials, many of which have no associated monument, and very many monuments to those who are not actually buried in the Abbey. The full list would make these pages unwieldy as well as dull so I refer you to the rather excellent Westminster Abbey; Official Guide. Here I will deal with monuments and burials of people of note, interest and importance.

The Choir, Presbytery & Edward the Confessor's Chapel
The Chapel of Edward the Confessor   The Choir     The 

The plan is based on that in Royal Commission of Historical Monuments: Vol 1 Westminster Abbey

The Choir

In the choir near their stalls are buried several ecclesiastics, one is Canon Dr Robinson Duckworth (1911), who rowed the boat for 'Lewis Carroll' when the latter told the famous story to Alice Liddle and her sisters.

The  Presbytery

Right: 3) Aveline, Countess of Lancaster (1274)  Daughter of William de Forz, Count of Aumale (Normandy), Lord of Holderness (Yorkshire) as well as other North England possessions; she was also on her mother's side heiress of the Earldom of Devon and Lordship of the Isle of Wight. A great heiress indeed. King Henry III married her to his eldest son Edmund 'Crouchback', Earl of Lancaster in 1269 but she died childless aged 15, possibly in childbirth. Her tomb was the first one to be placed in the new church.

Below and below this left: 1)  Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster (1296) was a warrior and diplomat, the second son of King Henry III and so brother to Kind Edward I. After the death of Aveline (see above) he married Blanche, widow of King Henry of Navarre and daughter of Robert of Artois. With Blanche he had  several children, including Thomas the 2nd Earl and Henry, the Third Earl of Lancaster. He received the forfeited lands of Simon de Montford, Earl of Leicester and also those of the Earl of Derby, among others. He attempted to recover lands in Gascony of which Philip IV had deprived Edward I by trickery but fell ill and died in France. The name 'crouchback' is said to come from 'cross back' referring to his travelling with Edward I to the Ninth Crusade, rather than a spinal deformity .

Above centre, right and directly below: 2) Aymer de Valance, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (1324) was the son of William de Valance (see below) and cousin to King Edward II. He was appointed one of the Lords Ordainers who attempted to  restrict the power of King Edward II and  his favourite  Piers Gaveston, especially in matters of finance and appointments to public office. Gaveston was exiled but returned without permission,  only to be captured and impressed by the Lords Ordainers with Aymer being appointed his jailor. However, Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster (see above) removed and beheaded Gavestone, an act that Aymer  regarded as being an affront to his honour and a breach of the Code of Chivalry as he had promised to keep his prisoner safe; thereafter he remained loyal to the King. He was present at the Battle of Bannockburn and led the King from the danger of the  battlefield following the defeat.

Afte Bannockburn Lancaster took control but proved not more effective than  in running the county the King had done. Aymer tried unsuccessfully to prevent a civil war breaking out and this resulted in the Battle of Boroughbridge in which Lancaster was defeated. He was tried, found guilty of treason and executed. Aymer took part in this trial.

 Edward II acquired two further favourites, the Despensers, father and son, and Aymer began to lose influence. He died in 1346 before the tragic end of this reign and the deposition and likely murder of the King in 1327.

Earls of Lancaster

Earls of Pembroke

Several ecclesiastics are buried beneath the pavement of the presbytery:

B4) Abbot Richard de la Ware (1283).  B5) Abbot Walter deWenlock.
Other Burials and Monuments
8)  King Sæberht (c. 616) was a king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Essex and the first East Saxon king to be converted to Christianity. (Bede) As mentioned above he was supposedly buried in an earlier church on the site and his body discovered during the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey in the time of Henry III. He was reburied in this new tomb (1308), which is on the opposite (south) side of the sanctuary and  covered  by the sedilia dating from the time of Edward I. The photograph is from the ambulatory as it is covered on the presbytery side.

B6) Anne Neville (1456-1485) Queen of King Richard III and younger daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, 'The Kingmaker'. Warwick began as a Yorkist, helping Edward IV secure the throne. With the increasing influence of Edward's queen's family (the Woodvilles), Warwick felt sidelined and led two rebellions against the King. When the second rebellion failed Warwick fled to France, joining Queen Margaret of Anjou and the Lancastrian party.  To seal this alliance he married Anne to Prince Edward, son of Margaret and Henry VI, who was at that time imprisoned in the Tower. Warwick invaded England, deposed Edward and restored King Henry. However Edward was soon back and Warwick was killed at the Battle of Barnet; Henry was returned to the Tower. Margaret, son Edward, and Anne then invaded England but the Lancastrians were defeated by King Edward at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Prince Edward and the Lancastrian leaders were  killed in the battle or executed afterwards, Margaret  sent into exile, and Anne left to her fate. In due course she married Edward's brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, whom she  had met as a child, and became queen when Richard usurped the throne. Their only son, Edward of Middleham died during this short reign followed soon after by Anne herself. Richard III was killed in the Battle of Bosworth.
Anne had no monument until the Richard III Society placed a bronze wall tablet near her grave in 1960, but this is actually in the south ambulatory not in the presbytery.

4)  Anne of Cleves (1515-1557) King Henry VIII's fourth wife and queen for only seven months. The monument was never completed and what we see is a stone base. A tapestry - not part of the monument - hangs above
 The marriage was arranged by Thomas Cromwell to secure a Protestant alliance for the King, but was never consummated and so annulled. Anne was thus never crowned. She was given a generous settlement by Henry. Cromwell was attainted and beheaded.
Her tomb with simple inscription is west of the sedilia. Ironically she died a Roman Catholic.

Note: Edmund Crouchback's second son, Thomas, the Third Earl, was nicknamed 'Wry Neck'.  Was there perhaps some heritable spinal deformity present in this family? We shall never know.

The Chapel of Edward the Confessor

King Edward the Confessor (1066)
  1) Edward the Confessor
(1066) vowed that he would build a new church should he ever return as England's king following his exile in Normandy during the reigns of the Anglo-Danish kings of England; hence he rebuilt the Saxon church at Westminster with a new church in the Norman style. This was consecrated in December 1065 as is illustrated in the Bayeux Tapestry; Edward died the following January and was buried before the high altar.

   Following miracles, William the Conqueror raised a gilded and jeweled stone  tomb over the grave. After Edward's canonization, a shrine  was prepared by Henry II to which Edward's remains were translated in 1163. The Abbey was rebuilt by King Henry III and Edward's body moved to a newly prepared shrine in 1269, the lower part of which can be seen today. This is of Purbeck marble decorated with mosaic, the chief artist being Peter the Roman.  Above this base was the golden shrine containing the King's coffin.  In the lower part of the shrine are the recesses in which sick persons knelt.

   At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the shrine was despoiled of its relics, gold and jewels and Edward's coffin buried elsewhere. Under Queen Mary the coffin was replaced and the shrine rebuilt, although it was again later despoiled of its wealthy trappings.

   In the old church Queen Edith (1075) , Edward's wife, was buried near her husband's tomb. There are no records of her coffin being moved. Also in this area was buried his great grand niece Matilda (or Edith) (1118), daughter of Malcolm Canmore, King of Scotland and first wife of Henry I of England. Also the heart of Henry of Almayne, son of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who was murdered by his cousin Guy de Montford and his brother Simon de Montford the younger, in revenge for their father's (Simon) death at the battle of Evesham.

   For recent investigation of this area of the Abbey and recently discovered graves click here

Queen Eleanor of Castile (1290)
(Wife of Edward I)
   4) Eleanor of Castile (1290)
was the first wife of Edward I. She died at Harby, Nottinghamshire and Edward raised the 'Eleanor Crosses' at the points where the funeral procession rested on its journey to Westminster. Three monuments were raised over Eleanor's remains: at Westminster, which we see here; at Lincoln (containing her entrails), of which only the tomb chest remains, although a copy of the Westminster bronze effigy was added in recent times; and at Blackfriars, London, (containing her heart) which was totally destroyed at the Dissolution.

   Master William Torel of London cast the beautiful gilt-bronze effigy. Her right hand once held a scepter. The pillows and the top of the tomb are covered with the castles of Castile and the lions of Leon. The metalwork was finished by William Sprot and John de Ware. Around the top is a Norman-French inscription which, on translation, reads:

   Here lies Eleanor, sometime Queen of England, wife to King Edward, son to King Henry, and daughter of  the King of Spain and Countess of Ponthieu, on whose soul may God in His pity have mercy. Amen.

   The woodwork was carried out by Master Thomas de Hokyntone. However the canopy, which was painted by Master Walter of Durham, has been replaced.

   On the ambulatory side (not shown) is a iron grille by Master Thomas of Leighton Buzzard.

The Purbeck marble tomb chest is by Master Richard of Crundale. The shields hung on branches of trees bear the arms of England, Castile quartering Leon and Ponthieu.

   Below the chest, and visible from the ambulatory, is a painting (perhaps by Master Walter of Durham) of Sir Otes de Grandison (who rescued Edward in the Holy Land and who died in 1328) kneeling before the Virgin and Child and four pilgrims praying before the Holy Sepulcher

5) Princess Elizabeth Tudor (1492-1495) was a daughter of King Henry VII. Her tomb is of Purbeck marble and  just to the west of that of Eleanor of Castile in front of the pillar. A small tomb which once had an brass inscription plate and fillet .

Left: The small plain tomb; parts of the monument of Henry III may be seen to our right and of Eleanor of Castile to our left.

King Henry III (1272)

   3) Henry III (1207-1272) was the son of King John, whom he succeeded while still a boy in 1216; he was first crowned at Gloucester, and four years later when the civil war of that time ended, at  Westminster Abbey itself. Henry was responsible for rebuilding the Abbey and almost all of the building west of Henry VII chapel belongs to his reign. He built a shrine to Edward the Confessor to which the king's body was translated in 1269. Henry was originally buried before the high altar in a grave which had been that of Edward the Confessor but nineteen years later he was translated to the present tomb which was built by his son, Edward I. He heart was buried at Fontevraud Abbey, but there is no monument there,  if there ever was one.

   The King's tomb consists of a Purbeck Marble base of two stages, into the sides of which are set slabs of Italian porphyry; it was inlaid with mosaic gilded and brightly coloured with tesserae of red and green porphyry, marble and glass, much of which have been stolen. On the side of the tomb nearest the Confessor's shrine are arched recesses which may have contained relics of the saint.

   The effigy is of gilded cast bronze and was made by Master William Torel, who also made that of Queen Eleanor. The face would seem to be an idealized likeness of the King. His head lies on a double cushion on which are decorated, as is the top of the tomb,  with lions of England. The gablet is now missing. An iron grille - by Master Henry of Lewes - once protected the tomb and the wooden canopy was once gilded and painted.

   The original Norman-French inscription around the edge of the tomb remains and in translation reads: 'Here lies Henry, sometime King of England, Lord of Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine, the son of King John, sometime King of England: on whom God may have mercy. Amen.'

King Edward I (1307)
 2)  Edward I (1239-1307) succeeded his father Henry III in 1272 and became the first king to be crowned in the new Abbey. He built the tomb of his father Henry III (see left) and also that of his first wife Queen Eleanor (see above).  He also deposited the famous Scone of Scone, on which the Scots kings had been crowned,  in the Abbey, although it was returned to Scotland at the end of the 20th century. He died in July 1307 at Burgh-on-the-Sands, Cumberland, on his final campaign against the Scots and his body was brought back to England, where it lay at Waltham Abbey, Essex, near the grave of King Harold II, for about fifteen weeks. In October the late King's body was brought back to London where it lay for three successive nights in the churches of Holy Trinity, St Paul's and Friars Minor before being brought to the Abbey for burial.

   The tomb chest is plain and consists of grey marble slabs, joined without mortar, on a stone base; there was never an effigy. There was once a wooden canopy over it and an iron grille between it and the ambulatory, but these are now lost. On the ambulatory side is painted 'Edward Primus Scotorum Malleus' and 'Pactum Serva'. ('Edward I Hammer of the Scots' and 'Keep Troth') although these were probably added in the mid XVI century.

   In 1774 the tomb was opened to reveal a Purbeck marble coffin in which lay the King wrapped in a waxed linen cloth, his face being covered by crimson face cloth. Below this the King wore his royal robes, holding a rod and scepter and wearing a crown on this head. Below these robes there was a closely fitting wax cloth. He was found to be 6' 2" tall: hence his nickname of Longshanks.

B3) John de Waltham, Bishop of Salisbury (1395)
was buried with the kings by order of Richard II. He had held a number of high offices of state. Any objection to his burial was overcome by the gift to the Abbey of two fine copes and a large sum of money from the King and the Bishop's executors.
This tomb is south of that of Edward I's and consists of a large gray slab with a partly lost brass, a rubbing of which is shown above

King Richard II (1400)
& His Queen, Anne of Bohemia (1394)
  9) King Richard II (1667-1400) was deposed in 1399 by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster, and imprisoned in Pontefract Castle, where he was probably murdered. Henry became king as Henry IV. Richard's body was taken to St Paul's Cathedral, where it was displayed publicly for three days to show that the former king was indeed dead. He was then buried at King's Langley in Hertfordshire.

    In 1413 King Henry V, in order to make amends for his father's deposition of Richard, ordered Richard's body be translated to Westminster Abbey where he was buried in the tomb that he had had constructed for himself and his queen, Anne of Bohemia (1366-1394) , who had died several years before her husband. Anne had died in the Palace of Sheen and Richard had been so overcome with grief at her death that he had the building torn down.

   The tomb is similar to that of Edward III. It is by masons Henry Yelele and Stephen Lote and by coppersmiths Nicholas Broker and Godfrey Prest, all of London. The effigies are of gilt bronze and are almost certainly portraits: compare the portrait of a younger Richard which can be seen in the Nave. The King and Queen originally held hands. Richard wears his coronation robes. The effigies are incised all over with various badges: on Richard's cape is the Plantagenet plant; also can be seen the white hart, the sunburst, the two-headed imperial eagle and the lion of Bohemia. The top of the tomb is decorated with fleurs-de-lys, lions and eagles.

   There used to be twelve gilt images of saints and eight angels as well as enameled coats of arms around the tomb.
On the inside of the wooden canopy over the tomb are painted Christ in Majesty, the Coronation of the Virgin and Queen Anne's arms, the painter being John Hardy. A rhyming inscription in Latin is painted around the edge of the canopy.

Princess Margaret of York (1472) was the sixth daughter of Edward IV, who died at nine months. Another small tomb but of stone with a plinth, the brass plate and inscription have been stolen. The moulded slab is of two layers which do not appear to belong to each other. It is to the east of the tomb of Richard II and Anne of Bohemia in from of the pillar separating that tomb from that of Edward III. It was probably moved from elsewhere.

Right: Her tomb is shown left. Part of the tomb of Richard II and Anne of Bohemia may be seen to out right and part of that of Edward III to our left.

King Edward III (1377)
   7)  King Edward III
(1312-1377) The King's tomb is of Purbeck marble around which are niches which originally contained bronze effigies of Edward and Philippa's children but only six of these (on the south side) remain: Edward the Black Prince; Joan of the Tower; Lionel, Duke of Clarence; Edmund, Duke of York; Mary of Brittany; and William of Hatfield. (see below) Their arms were on enameled shields at their feet but only four of these now remain. On the base on the ambulatory side (as shown) are enameled shields with the arms of England and St George.

   The effigy, around which runs a Latin rhyming inscription,  is of gilt-bronze. The King's face is thought to be based on a death mask but the hair and beard are idealized.

   The wooden canopy over the tomb may be by Master Hugh Herland.

Arms of Edward III Children of King Edward III

Queen Philippa of Hainhault (1369)
(Wife of Edward III)

  6) Queen Philippa of Hainhault
(1312-1377) was the wife of Edward III.
   The tomb is of marble by Hennequin de Liege. Most of the weepers have been lost. The effigy is of alabaster - almost certainly a portrait. (compare the idealized effigy of Eleanor) Again the scepter, which had been held in the right hand has been lost. The columns at the side of the effigy formerly contained small figures. The tomb is covered by a wooden canopy. An iron grille, from St Paul's Cathedral, formerly protected the tomb. There were originally seventy figures made by John Orchard of London, bronze worker who also erected and repaired the grille.

Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester (1355-1397) was the fifth surviving and youngest child of Edward III and Philippa of Hainhault. During the reign of Richard II he was leader of the Lords Appellant, whose aim was to take control of  the government which was seen to be becoming increasingly tyrannical and capricious under King Richard and his counselors. In 1388 they established a commission to govern England, defeated the King's army at Radcot Bridge, and, in the 'Merciless Parliament' impeached a number of the King's counselors, sentencing several to death, although some of these had fled abroad. Richard became effectively little more than a figurehead.

However the following year another of the King's uncles, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, returned from his adventures in the Iberian peninsula and gradually was able to rebuild the King's power. Richard took his revenge on the former Lords Appellant, and the leader, Thomas of Woodstock was arrested in Pleshy, imprisoned at Calais and charged with High Treason. However while in prison he was murdered by being smothered by a feather bed,  by a group led by Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, on the orders, it was widely believed, of the King himself. This act considerably reduced Richard's popularity.

His tomb is near now that of Queen Philippa, his mother, but he was originally buried in St Edmund's chapel but transferred to the present position by Henry IV The once fine brass is lost.
  The brass was lost or stolen certainly before the time of the Richard Gough's book on Sepulchral Monuments, which was published at the end of the 18th century, since he refers to the monument and the lost brass but does not illustrate it.

There is an illustration extant however but I do not have access to it. The brass consisted of a number of figures: the Duke and his Wife and several members of their family.

King Henry V (1422)

Arms of King Henry V
Because of his claim on the crown of France King Edward III quartered his arms with those of France. The effect of this may be seen above on the section on Edward III. In this case the French arms are, azure semé de lis (blue sowed with lillies). This is termed France Ancient.

Arms of Queen Catherine of Valois
But where have all the lillies gone? Charles V - Charles the Wise - of France reduced the fleurs de lis to three in 1367, so the French arms became azure three lis. (blue three lillies) This is termed France Modern. Henry IV of England followed suit as can be seen on his son's arms left.

   King Henry V (1386-1422)  (died at Vincennes in August, only 34 years of age. His body was embalmed and rested for a while in Rouen Cathedral. His body was then brought from France to Dover and from there to London to lie in state in St Paul's Cathedral. He was buried in the Abbey in November.

   The tomb, which is situated in a chantry chapel, was not finished until 1431. It consists of  a Purbeck marble tomb chest which has now lost its decoration. The effigy consisted of a head, hands, scepter of silver and silver gilt plates covered the oak body. These were all stolen in 1545 so that only the oak core remained. A new head and hands of polyester by Louisa Bolt were add in 1971.  The gates to the chantry chapel are by Roger Johnson and were constructed in 1430-32.

   Catherine of Valois (1401-1437) Queen of Henry V and daughter of Charles VI, called 'Charles the Mad', of France. Her elder sister Isabelle had already been a Queen of England as the child wife of Richard II.

     Henry V's successful military campaigns in France led to Treaty of Troyes. Included in its terms was that Charles would remain King of France until his death and then Henry V or one of the latter's sons would inherit the French throne. The French king's son - the Dauphin and future Charles VII was to be disinherited. Henry was to marry Catherine whom he had met earlier at Meulan and the marriage took place probably at Troyes Cathedral. The couple returned to England and Catherine was crowned as queen. Catherine was now pregnant with the future Henry VI. Henry returned to France to continue campaigning as the south was held mainly be the Dauphin.

    Henry's luck however ran out: he died of dysentery in 1422 at the early age of thirty-five and never lived to see his son. Charles VI died a couple of months later, so the nine moths old Henry VI became king of England and of France.

   Catherine was widowed at twenty and, it is said, a very attractive young woman, so the Regency Council had concerns about her remarriage. However parliament passed a bill stating that if she should marry without the King's consent, then her husband would forfeit all lands and possessions, although any children of this marriage would not be punished in any way; however the King was her son and consent would depend on his reaching his majority and he was still only six.

   She entered a sexual relationship with Owen Tudor, a Welsh knight who may have been keeper of Catherine's household. It is uncertain if they were ever actually married but, if they were, the marriage would be illegal because of the parliamentary bill mentioned above. They had at least six children from this relationship, including Edmund and Jasper Tudor, the former eventually becoming the father of King Henry VII. On Catherine's death, Owen Tudor was arrested and imprisoned for breaking the law by marrying, or at least having children by, Catherine. However he was released after about a year only to be executed following the Battle of Mortimer's Cross early in the Wars of the Roses.

   Catherine was buried in the Chantry Chapel of her first husband, King Henry V, and, possibly, there was an alabaster effigy on her tomb. This appeared to have been destroyed during the extension to this part of the Abbey in the time of Henry VII. It is said that the monument was destroyed on the order of Henry VII himself as he wished to distance himself from his (possibly) illegitimate ancestry. Catherine's body was removed at this time and, rather disgracefully, placed in an open coffin above the ground. Catherine's body was thus exposed for over 200 years, becoming a tourist attraction. Her body was subsequently hidden under the Villiers monuments in the Chapel of St Nicholas in 1778, over 200 years later, and then finally buried  100 years after that  under an altar in the Chantry Chapel.

  B7) Richard Courtenay, Bishop of Norwich (1415) was also buried in the chantry chapel in an unmarked grave. He accompanied King Henry V on his military expedition to France and died at the Siege of Harfleur. He was buried in this place by the specific orders of the King.

Above: B1/2  John de Valance (1277) was young son of William de Valance. Cross slab with remains of brass inlaid and applied Cosmatic work. The slab to his sister Margaret (1276) is nearby. These slabs are partly covered by the steps from the Confessor's Chapel to that of Henry V.

The photographs in this section were kindly sent to me mainly by Dr John Physick and Miss Sally Badham, both founder members and former presidents of the Church Monuments Society. The photographs were taken in the 'good old days', alluded to above, mainly on film and later scanned into the computer. Thus they are not of the quality of those available from Westminster Abbey

The etchings are by Charles Stothard and T & G Hollis and the steel plate engravings by Blore. The small photographs are from Royal Commission of Historical Monuments: Vol 1 Westminster Abbey. If anyone can provided me with more photographs, prints etc I should be most grateful. Please note that this is a stictly non commercial venture, advertisements are not accepted, and site is quite free to access.

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