The Cosmatesque pavements and royal tombs of Westminster Abbey

  • Tuesday 17 May 2022
  • The Art Workers' Guild, 6 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AT
  • Lecturer: Professor Warwick Rodwell

Westminster Abbey contains the only surviving assemblage of thirteenth-century cosmatesque mosaics in north-west Europe. They comprise a geometrical pavement in the sanctuary and one of ‘carpet’ design in the shrine chapel of St Edward. The shrine pedestal itself was also once covered with mosaic, as is the tomb of Henry III and that of his grandson John of Windsor. In each case, the matrix is Purbeck marble, chased and inlaid with tesserae and opus sectile of porphyry, other marbles and gilded glass. Henry III was responsible for the creation of the pavements and monuments, between the mid-1250s and his death in 1272. He drew inspiration from Canterbury, where he had seen a Romanesque marble mosaic pavement which had been moved and reconstructed by the Cosmati in the 1230s.


Professor Warwick Rodwell OBE is Consultant Archaeologist to Westminster Abbey, where he has undertaken research and directed archaeological investigations since 2000. He is author of the text-book The Archaeology of Churches, and is responsible for volumes on the Abbey, including Westminster: Art, Architecture & Archaeology of the Royal Abbey & Palace (BAA Conf. Trans, 2 vols, 2015) and The Cosmatesque Mosaics of Westminster Abbey (2 vols, 2019).

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