New crown for Westminster Abbey

Monday 29 Jun 2009

Design competition will see addition of corona to the historic cathedral

Westminster Abbey is a significant monument of architecture like none other in the UK. Founded in the year 960 by St Dunstane, it is embedded in the country's history, hosting royal weddings, funerals and coronations, as well as being an international tourist attraction. But the design for this integral building has never been completed.

Despite having evolved continuously over the centuries, there is one area of 'unfinished business' that has been tackled by such greats as Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawskmoor and George Gilbert Scott, but which has never seen fruition - a Lantern roof to sit atop the altar and give the building grandeur like many other great cathedrals. Now, the Chapter of Westminster is holding a competition to change this, offering architects the chance to transform one of the UK's greatest icons.

The Dean of Westminster, Dr Hall, and Chapter of Westminster believe that a corona – an architectural device based upon a monarch’s crown – would be a highly symbolic way to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the Coronation of The Queen on 2 June 2013. The corona, an architectural feature in the shape of a crown, would replace the small plain pyramid roof on top of the Lantern, which was re-built in 1958 to repair war damage. Dr Hall said:

"It is an odd accident of history that, where so many great churches have a magnificent tower or spire or dome, the Abbey remains unfinished over the site of every coronation since that of William the Conqueror on Christmas Day 1066. Now is the time to consider afresh what should be built there."

The addition is subject to both the ability to raise funds and a public consultation process and is part of the wider 2020 Vision for the Abbey. The vision, devised under the ambitions of Access to Welcome, Wonder and Worship, outlines plans for a new education center in part of No 1 Dean's Yard, a new cafe and a museum as well as the corona.

Niki May Young
News Editor

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United Kingdom

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