£2 Million Restoration For Westminster Abbey Chapter House

By Ed Sexton Published: 13 January 2009

a photograph of a gothic window taken from the exterior of a church like building

© English Heritage

The historic birthplace of Parliament, the Westminster Abbey Chapter House, is to undergo a £2million restoration funded by English Heritage to preserve its façade.

With its origins in the 12th Century the project will be the most concentrated programme of restoration that the building has undergone since the 19th century when Sir Gilbert Scott administered the façade's restoration.

The octagonal building in the east cloister of the Abbey dates from the 1250s and was originally used as a place for monks to meet for daily prayers. The King's Council first met there in 1257 whilst the House of Commons used the building until the 1500s.

a photograph from below of church style buttress woth gothic stained glass windows either side

© English Heritage

“The Chapter House is a building of international importance and sits at the heart not just of Westminster Abbey but of the Westminster World Heritage Site, one of the most visited places on earth," explained Tim Reeve, Properties Director for English Heritage.

“This programme of repairs is an investment in London’s unique heritage so that present and future generations can enjoy this jewel of English history, the cradle of its Parliamentary system.”

The original features, including gargoyles and stained glass windows will be repaired and the lead roof gutters will be replaced and made weather tight. The project is expected to be completed by 2010.

The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, said: “The Dean and Chapter greatly appreciate the collaboration of English Heritage which cares for and allows visitors free access to the magnificent Chapter House.”

a photograph of church style outer window and buttress

© English Heritage

The company charged with leading the conservation project is Stow and Beale Conservation Architects. “We are delighted to have been selected to conserve Scott's work which, in contrast to so much Victorian restoration, has benefited the public face of the Abbey complex as well as preserving the fine 13th century interior," said Stow and Beale's Barry Stow.

“We look forward to working with the contractor and project team to carry out an exemplary conservation project over the next 18 months.”

Together with Thinc Projects, who will be project managing the scheme, the Chapter House Conservation Project will present many unique and exciting challenges - as befitting of one of the United Kingdom’s most significant buildings.

For more information please go to www.westminster-abbey.org