16th February 2015
In his talk on 16th February Geoff Roberts invited Members of the Rotary
Club of Great Missenden and District to take an imaginary journey back
through our history to discover how the Abbey came to be built where it is
and how it has survived the tests of time.
.We were told that Edward the Connfessor, Henry III and Henry VII were the three monarchs to whom the abbey owed its existance and who made it a very special place.Henry III rebuilt the Abbey in honour of the Royal Saint Edward the Confessor whose relics were placed in a shrine in the sanctuary and now lie in a burial vault beneath the 1268 Cosmati mosaic pavement, in front of the High Altar.
Edward the Confessor was the first to be buried in the Abbey and Harold II (Godwinson) was probably crowned in the Abbey although the first documented coronation was that of William the Conqueror.
We were told that in addition to Limestone from Caen in Normandy, stone from Stapleton in Yorkshire and Beer in Devon the following were all used in the construction of the Abbey.
The Abbey has a connection with Parliament and the Bank of England because The Chapter house was originally used in the 13th century by Benedictine monks for daily meetings. It later became a meeting place of the King's Great Council and the Commons, predecessors of Parliament.
The Abbey is under the direct control of the Monarch by Royal Peculiar and the Monarch is referred to as 'The Visitor'.
Christopher Wren's contribution to the Abbey was the Grerat West Tower in 1750.
Wren’s greatest work was St Paul’s Cathedral, London, ordered to be rebuilt by Charles II after the Great Fire of London. Wren based his design on St Peters in Rome, the work of the great architect Michelangelo. Wren’s design was a combination of the Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque surmounted by an immense dome with a great lantern, based on Brunelleschi’s design for Florence Cathedral. Wren gave London one of its most distinguished buildings but the completed structure bore little relation to the original plan, which had been approved by the conservative clerics of Established Church.
Wren is buried in the crypt in St Paul’s. The inscription on his tomb reads “Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice”: “ If you would see his monument, reader, look around you.”
Much of the funds for the rebuilding of St Paul’s were appropriated from the church of St Peters, Westminster hence the saying “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.
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