St Margaret's, Westminster
|St Margaret's, Westminster|
St Margaret's Church, Westminster, with the Elizabeth Tower of the Palace of Westminster in the background.
|Location||City of Westminster, London, UK|
|Rebuilt||1486 to 1523|
|Official name: Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret's Church|
|Criteria||i, ii, iv|
|Designated||1987 (11th session)|
|Region||Europe and North America|
The Church of St Margaret, Westminster Abbey, is situated in the grounds of Westminster Abbey on Parliament Square. It was until 1972 the Anglican parish church of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in London. It is dedicated to Margaret of Antioch.
History and description
The church was founded in the twelfth century by Benedictine monks, so that local people who lived in the area around the Abbey could worship separately at their own simpler parish church, and historically it was within the hundred of Ossulstone in the county of Middlesex. In 1914, in a preface to Memorials of St. Margaret's Church, Westminster, a former Rector of St Margaret's, Dr Hensley Henson, reported a mediaeval tradition that the church was as old as Westminster Abbey, owing its origins to the same royal saint, and that "The two churches, conventual and parochial, have stood side by side for more than eight centuries — not, of course, the existing fabrics, but older churches of which the existing fabrics are successors on the same site."
St Margaret's was rebuilt from 1486 to 1523, at the instigation of King Henry VII, and the new church, which largely still stands today, was consecrated on 9 April 1523. It has been called "the last church in London decorated in the Catholic tradition before the Reformation", and on each side of a large rood there stood richly painted statues of St Mary and St John, while the building had several internal chapels. In the 1540s, the new church came near to demolition, when Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, planned to take it down to provide good-quality materials for Somerset House, his own new palace in the Strand. He was only kept from carrying out his plan by the resistance of armed parishioners.
In 1614, St Margaret's became the parish church of the Palace of Westminster, when the Puritans of the seventeenth century, unhappy with the highly liturgical Abbey, chose to hold their Parliamentary services in a church they found more suitable: a practice that has continued since that time.
The north-west tower was rebuilt by John James from 1734 to 1738; at the same time, the whole structure was encased in Portland stone. Both the eastern and the western porch were added later by J. L. Pearson. The church's interior was greatly restored and altered to its current appearance by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1877, although many of the Tudor features were retained.
By the 1970s, the number of people living nearby was in the hundreds. Ecclesiastical responsibility for the parish was reallocated to neighbouring parishes by the Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret Westminster Act 1972, and the church was brought under the authority of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey.
Notable windows include the east window of 1509 of Flemish stained glass, created to commemorate the betrothal of Catherine of Aragon to Henry VIII. This has had a chequered history. It was given by Henry VII to Waltham Abbey in Essex, and at the Dissolution of the Monasteries the last Abbot sent it to a private chapel at New Hall, Essex. That came into the possession of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, the father of Anne Boleyn, then Thomas Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex, next George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, after him Oliver Cromwell, from whom it reverted to the second Duke of Buckingham, next General Monk, Duke of Albemarle, and after him John Olmius, then Mr Conyers of Copt Hall, Essex, whose son sold the window to the parish of St Margaret's in 1758, for four hundred guineas. The money came from a grant of £4,000 which parliament had made to the parish that year for the renovation of the church and the rebuilding of the chancel.
Other windows commemorate William Caxton, England's first printer, who was buried at the church in 1491, Sir Walter Raleigh, executed in Old Palace Yard and then also buried in the church in 1618, the poet John Milton, a parishioner of the church, and Admiral Robert Blake.
As well as marrying its own parishioners, the church has long been a popular venue for society weddings, as Members of Parliament, peers, and officers of the House of Lords and House of Commons can choose to be married in it. Notable weddings include:
- 5 July 1631: Edmund Waller and Anne Banks, who was an heiress and a ward of the Court of Aldermen, were married at the church in defiance of orders of the Court and the Privy Council of England. Waller had previously carried the bride off and been forced to return her. On a complaint being made to the Star Chamber, Waller was pardoned by King Charles I.
- 1 December 1655: Samuel Pepys and Elisabeth Marchant de St. Michel
- 12 November 1656: John Milton and Katherine Woodcock
- 12 June 1895: William Hicks and Grace Lynn Joynson
- 12 September 1908: Winston Churchill and Clementine Hozier
- 21 April 1920: Harold Macmillan, and Lady Dorothy Cavendish
- 18 July 1922: Lord Louis Mountbatten, and Edwina Ashley
- 8 October 1993: David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley, and the Hon. Serena Stanhope
- Charles Weston, 3rd Earl of Portland, 19 May 1639
- Barbara Villiers, only child of Lord Grandison and a future royal mistress of King Charles II, was christened in the church on 27 November 1640.
- Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, was christened in the church on 12 May 1661
- Charles FitzRoy, 2nd Duke of Cleveland, eldest son of Barbara Villiers, was christened in the church on 16 June 1662, when the father's name was given as her husband, Lord Castlemaine, instead of as the King, who later acknowledged the child as his. In October 1850 The Gentleman's Magazine reported this entry and claimed it as "an untruth" and "a new fact in the secret history of Charles II".
- Thomas Pelham-Clinton, 3rd Duke of Newcastle, 28 July 1752
- Olaudah Equiano, an African slave, was christened as Gustavus on 9 February 1759, when he was described in the parish register as "Gustavus Vassa a Black born in Carolina 12 years old".
- William Caxton, 1491
- John Sutton, 3rd Baron Dudley, "Lord Quondam", 18 September 1553; and his wife Lady Cicely Grey, 28 April 1554
- Nicholas Ludford, 1557
- Sir Walter Raleigh, 1618
- William Murray, 2nd Earl of Tullibardine, 30 July 1627
- Edward Grimeston, 14 December 1640
- Following the Restoration of the Monarchy, in 1661 several Parliamentarians who had been buried in Westminster Abbey, Admiral Robert Blake, Denis Bond, Nicholas Boscawen, Mary Bradshaw, Sir William Constable, Admiral Richard Deane, Isaac Dorislaus, Anne Fleetwood, Thomas Hesilrige, Humphrey Mackworth, Stephen Marshall, Thomas May, John Meldrum, Admiral Edward Popham, John Pym, Humphrey Salwey, William Strong, William Strode, and William Twisse, were all disinterred from there and reburied in an unmarked pit in St Margaret's churchyard, on the orders of King Charles II. A memorial to them is set into the external wall to the left of the main west entrance.
- Wenceslas Hollar, March 1677
- John West, 6th Baron De La Warr
- Bishop Nicholas Clagett, 1746
- Elizabeth Elstob, an early feminist, 1756.
- Henry Constantine Jennings, 1819
Jeremy Thorpe, former leader of the Liberal Party.
Other notable events
On Easter day in 1555 a former Benedictine monk, William Flower entered the church and attacked a priest who was administering the sacrament. Although he repented for the injury he caused the priest, Flower would not repent his motive which was based on a rejection of the doctrine of transubstantiation. He was thus sentenced for heresy and burned at the stake outside the church.
During the First World War, Edward Lyttelton, headmaster of Eton, gave a sermon in the church on the theme of "Loving your enemies", promoting the view that any post-war treaty with Germany should be a just one and not vindictive. He had to leave the church after the service by a back door, while a number of demonstrators sang "Rule Britannia" in protest at his attitude.
- William Owtram was Minister of St Margaret's, but not Rector, in 1664.
- Hensley Henson (1900 to 1912)
- William Hartley Carnegie (1912 to 1936).
- David Edwards (1972 to 1978)
- John Baker (1978 to 1982)
- Trevor Beeson (1982 to 1987)
- Donald Gray (1987 to 1998)
- Robert Wright (1998 to 2010)
- Andrew Tremlett (2010 to 2016)
- Jane Sinclair (2016 onwards)
Organists who have played at St Margaret's include:
- Robert Whyte 1570–1574
- John Egglestone
- John Parsons 1616–1621 (then organist of Westminster Abbey)
- John Hilton 1628 – 1657(?)
- John Blow, 1695–????
- Bernard Smith, 1676–1708
- Henry Turner 1708–????
- John Illam ????–1726
- Edward Purcell, son of Henry Purcell, 1726–1740
- James Butler 1740 – 1772
- William Rock 1774 – 1802
- Michael Rock 1802 – 1809
- John Bernard Sale 1809 – 1838
- T.G. Baines around 1864 
- Walter Galpin Alcock ???? – 1896
- Edwin Lemare 1897 – 1902
- Reginald Goss-Custard 1902 – 1914
- Edwin Stephenson 1914 – 1922 (formerly organist of St Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham)
- Herbert Dawson 1929 – 1965
- Martin Neary 1965 – 1972
- Richard Hickox 1972 – 1982
- Thomas Trotter
- Simon Over 1992 – 2002
- Zoe Rachel Ryan 2010 – present
- Westminster Abbey. "St. Margaret's, Westminster Parish details". Archived from the original on 5 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-03.
- Pevsner, N.; Bradley, Simon (2003). The Buildings of England: London 6 – Westminster. Uxbridge: Penguin. ISBN 0-300-09595-3.
- McManus, Mark. "St. Margaret's, Westminster". Archived from the original on 11 June 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2008.
- Hawgood, David. "St. Margaret's, Westminster". Genuki (Genealogy UK & Ireland). Retrieved 2008-05-03.
- From "Memorials of St. Margaret's church, Westminister, comprising the parish registers, 1539-1660, and other churchwardens' accounts, 1460-1603", reported in Notes and Queries (1914), p. 518
- John Richardson, The Annals of London: a Year-by-year Record of a Thousand Years of History (University of California Press, 2000), p. 81
- Wright, A.; Smith, P. (1868). Parliament Past and Present. London: Hutchinson & Co.
- Scott, George Gilbert (1995) . Stamp, Gavin, ed. Personal and Professional Recollections. [London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington] Stamford: Paul Watkins Publishing. ISBN 1-871615-26-7.
- Messages from Prince of Wales, politicians, church leaders at Coptic New Year Service, Westminster Abbey dated October 24th, 2016, at indcatholicnews.com, accessed 12 January 2018
- "Interview: Robert Wright, Sub-dean of Westminster Abbey, Rector of St Margaret's". Church Times. 26 May 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
- Dean and Chapter, Westminster Abbey. "St Margaret's Church – The east window". St Margaret's Church. Retrieved 2010-10-21.
- H. B. Wheatley, Peter Cunningham, London Past and Present: Its History, Associations, and Traditions, p. 467
- Smith, Christopher. "Sir Walter Raleigh – Execution". Britannia Biographies. Retrieved 2008-05-03.
- R. E. C. Waters, Genealogical memoirs of the extinct family of Chester of Chicheley p. 91
- Pepys, Samuel (1987). Samuel Pepys, ed. The Illustrated Pepys: extracts from the Diary. Harmondsworth: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-139016-6.
- 'Milton, John', in Journal of the Society of Arts dated November 8, 1867, p. 755
- Gilbert, Martin (1991). Churchill: a life. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-29183-8.
- Taylor, D. J. (2007). Bright Young Things: the lost generation of London's Jazz Age. London: Chatto & Windus. ISBN 0-7011-7754-3. (American ed.: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York, 2009)
- Robert Edmond Chester Waters, Genealogical memoirs of the extinct family of Chester of Chicheley (1878), p. 105
- Maurice Petherick, Restoration Rogues (1951), p. 327
- The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 189 (1850), pp. 367, 368
- William Coxe, Memoirs of the Administration of the Right Honourable Henry Pelham Volume 1 (London: Longman, Brown, Rees, Orme & Green, 1829), p. xxx
- Felicity Nussbaum, ed., The Global Eighteenth Century (2005), p. 232
- Oliver Cromwell Westminster Abbey
- John Chambers, Biographical Illustrations of Worcestershire (1820), p. 347
- E. Angelicoussis, "Jennings, Henry Constantine (1731–1819)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-19-861411-X
- Alan Wilkinson, The Church of England and the First World War (London, SCM Press, 1996), p. 221
- Westminster Under School. Accessed 12 January 2013
- National Pipe Organ Register website.
- "Speaker's Chaplain". The Church in Parliament. Church of England. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
- J. L. Chester, The Marriage, Baptismal, and Burial Registers of the Collegiate Church or Abbey of St. Peter, Westminster, Volume 10 (Harleian Society, 1876), p. 197
- "Bishop Hensley Henson – Master of Dialectic", obituary in The Times, 29 September 1947, p. 27
- "William and Mary Carnegie". Westminster Abbey. Retrieved 2014-08-08.
William Hartley Carnegie Canon of Westminster and Rector of St Margaret's 1913–1936. Sub Dean 1919–1936. Born 27 February 1859. Died 18 October 1936. ...
- Westminster Abbey — Sinclair appointed Rector of St Margaret's (Accessed 23 February 2016)
- Dwight's Journal of Music, p. 331
- William Charles Pearce,A Biographical Sketch of Edmund Hart Turpin, 1911
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