Romantic Circles Gallery
9th. 10th. & 11th. Windows North Aisle
The titular 9th, 10th, and 11th windows of the North Aisle of Westminster Abbey form the background of the print. In the foreground, a variety of people walk around and look at the monuments along the walls. In the right corner, there is a short female in black, her face covered by her bonnet. A man wearing breeches, a green shirt, and a long white apron stands behind a couple in the center of the print; all three stand with their backs to the viewer. A religious man in white robes with red vestment, a man in a blue coat with crutches, and a man in a black gown carrying a staff are all moving towards the left. A male figure in traveling clothes, walking stick in hand, moves beneath the arch at the far left. Beyond this arch, a woman in white stands before the railing, accompanied by a man in a black frock coat who points towards something.
Copyright 2009, Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
William Combe's The History of the Abbey Church of St. Peter's, Westminster, Its Antiquities and Monuments . . . (London, 1812)
CA 6724 Oversize; vol. 2
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Edition and State:
Plate 61 in William Combe’s The History of the Abbey Church of St. Peter’s, Westminster, Its Antiquities and Monuments . . . (London, 1812)
This image was bound in The history of the Abbey Church of St. Peter's, Westminster, Its Antiques and Monuments . . . (London, 1812).
William Combe (1741-1823)
William Combe was an English writer of prose and satirical verse. After traveling the Continent and falling into debt, Combe returned to London in 1777 and took up writing as a profession. Friends with Laurence Sterne, Combe published several volumes of imitations of their Yorick correspondences. His collaboration with Rudolph Ackermann commenced with illustrated histories such as Westminster Abbey (1812). This led to a collaboration with Thomas Rowlandson on the Doctor Syntax series, in which he satirizes sentimental travel and tour writing, The English Dance of Death (1815), and The Dance of Life (1816-17).
Captains Hervey and Hutt (#297; these numbers serve to identify, in the above image, the corresponding monuments)
Captains Hervey and Hutt participated in the naval victory of Lord Howe on June 1, 1794, both dying from wounds received in action. Their monument is “composed of two colossal figures of Britannia and Fame,” who stand alongside an urn on which appear the medallions of the two captains. It was sculpted by Mr. Bacon, Jr. (Combe 254-55).
The Honorable George Augustus Frederick Lake (#298)
A lieutenant-colonel of the 29th Foot Regiment, Lake died leading his grenadiers in Roleia, Portugal on August 17, 1808. This “sarcophagus decorated with military trophies and regimental colors” was erected by his men, “officers, noon-commissioned officers, drummers, and privates of the corps, as a testimony of their high regard and esteem” (Combe 255).
John Woodward, M.D. (#299)
Woodward was a professor of Physic at Gresham College. His monument features a female statue of philosophy, sitting and gazing upwards while holding a shield that has the professor’s bust in bas-relief. There is also included a pillar and a pedestal with plants and fossils, adorned with a Latin epigraph (Combe 255).
Mrs. Martha Price (#300)
Price's monument consists of a white tablet with flora and an urn with a Latin epitaph (Combe 256).
Anne Countess Dowager of Clanrickard (#301)
In this monument an “indifferent statue reclines on a sarcophagus” of marble adorned with the family arms. The inscription speaks of the Countess Dowager in relation to the men and children in her life: her father; her first husband with their children, three sons and three daughters; and her second husband with their titled children, an Earl and two Ladies. She died on January 4, 1732 (Combe 256).
General Lawrence (#304)
This monument was erected by the East India Company to commemorate Major-General Stringer Lawrence, who commanded the British forces on the Coromandel coast from 1746 to 1766 (Combe 256-57). It consists of a marble pedestal adorned with flags of France and India. Britannia is seated on a bale, pointing to a bust. There is a bas relief of a town besieged.
Mrs. Penelope Egerton (#305)
This monument consists of a dark tablet with a white border and a draped urn with a Latin inscription (Combe 257).
Sir Godfrey Kneller (#306)
Located east of belfry, this monument features the bust of the celebrated painter and a medallion of Lady Kneller beneath a canopy, a weeping boy on either side. A Latin epitaph, with a stanza by the pope, is engraved on the pedestal. It was designed by Kneller himself to house his ashes (Combe 258-59).
William Horneck, Esquire (#307)
Located under the painted window in the belfry, this monument depicts Minerva on a pedestal, unveiling. At her feet is a medallion with books, square, and a compass. A boy holds plans of fortifications. The monument is inscribed with a Latin epitaph (Combe 259).
Located just west of the Houses of Parliament in London, Westminster Abbey, a Royal Particular, was built on the site of an ancient monastery in 1065 by Edward the Confessor. Henry III tore down the entire structure in 1245 in order to build a Gothic church; the nave, however, was conserved and rebuilt in the late 1300s. The chapel of Henry VII replaced an earlier chapel in 1503, and the last additions to the building were the western towers designed by Christopher Wren. The Abbey has served as the site of coronations since William the Conqueror. Monuments in the Abbey were few until the sixteenth century, when royals began to erect monuments to their predecessors, their families, and others affiliated with royalty. During the seventeenth century, monuments raised for those without royal connections greatly increased, and many were dedicated to war heroes, statesmen, artists, writers, etc.: “Nowhere matches Westminster Abbey in the number, diversity and distinction of the famous men and women buried in it, and no place has continued to be the burial ground of the great across such a length of time” (Jenkyns 73). Also housing the tombs of many “ordinary and insignificant” commoners, it was both a “pantheon and a charnel house” (Jenkyns 85). During the eighteenth century its history and variety of monuments became a common topic of essays, and the Abbey itself became a popular travel destination (Fisher 116). On Armistice Day in 1920, Westminster Abbey’s status as a national symbol was solidified with the erection of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. To this day, it remains one of the most enduring images of Great Britain as well as one of the most popular tourist sites in England.
This illustration, created by John White to accompany William Combe's written history of Westminster, gives an interior view of the Abbey and depicts several of its monuments. The bottom border of the image includes the names of the persons to whom the monuments are dedicated, along with corresponding numbers for identification.
John White and F. Mackenzie’s illustrations for Combe’s The History of the Abbey reconstruct the structure and monuments of Westminster not simply as architecture but as art, representing the Abbey as a gallery to tour. These intricate illustrations, combined with Combe's detailed accounts of Westminster's history, architecture, and monuments, serve as an extensive guidebook to the Abbey. However, given the physical size of The History, the text ultimately functions as a substitute for the Abbey itself, taking on the role of "tour" books that enable readers to virtually, rather than physically, visit a site. This is further reinforced by the seemingly unmediated nature of The History's content: the text presents the Abbey as an immediate presence by providing numbers that correspond to the depicted monuments and by directly quoting their epitaphs without giving supplemental translations.
Mackenzie’s illustrations emphasize the grand architecture of Westminster Abbey by depicting tiny figures positioned unobtrusively in doorways and arches. However, these figures, who are supposedly touring the Abbey, seem more involved in their conversations than their surroundings, barely lifting their heads to examine the fan vaulted ceiling of the Henry VII chapel. Meanwhile, White portrays the Abbey as a successful site of tourism, depicting groups of people who appear to purposefully view and discuss the monuments along the main aisles. Moreover, he does so using a variety of spectators: men and women, members of the working class, academics, religious men, and travelers. Consequently, within one work and at one site, there are portrayed different ways of interacting with a "spectacle": by treating it as an opportunity to study grand architecture or personal histories; by losing oneself in the absorbing splendor of its art; by using it as an event of sociality and conversation; or, finally, by privately experiencing it as a virtual site through text and illustrations.
Bond, Francis. Westminster Abbey. London: Oxford UP, 1909. Print.
Carpenter, Edward, ed. A House of Kings: The Official History of Westminster Abbey. Revised ed. London: Day, 1972. Print.
Carretta, Vincent. “Combe, William (1742–1823).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Jan. 2008. Web. 3 July 2013.
Combe, William. The History of the Abbey Church of St. Peter’s, Westminster, Its Antiquities and Monuments . . . 2 vols. London, 1812. Print.
Field, John. Kingdom Power and Glory: A historical guide to Westminster Abbey. London: James, 1996. Print.
A Historical Description of Westminster Abbey, its Monuments and Curiosities. London, 1892. Print.
Humphrey, Stephen C. Churches and Cathedrals of London. New York: Contemporary Books, 2001. Print.
Jenkyns, Richard. Westminster Abbey. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2005. Print.
Neale, John Preston. The History and Antiquities of Westminster Abbey and Henry the Seventh’s Chapel; their tombs, ancient monuments, and inscriptions. . . London, 1856. Print.
Pyne, W.H. and William Combe. The Microcosm of London; or, London in Miniature. 3 vols. London: Ackermann, 1904. Print.
"Westminster Abbey." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 03 Jul. 2013.
William Combe’s The History of the Abbey Church of St. Peter’s, Westminster, Its Antiquities and Monuments . . . (1812)
Vol 2 has added engraved t.-p. in colors: Westminster abbey and the monuments, forming a companion and continuation of the Microcosm of London.
11 October 1812