A series of stunning watercolours of Westminster Abbey have gone on display, inside the Abbey they depict, and unlike the main building, they’re in a part that few realise is free to visit.
This is a collection of 35 paintings that were created by Alexander Creswell during a 6-year residency at the Abbey. Alexander Creswell is probably best known for the watercolours he painted of the rooms damaged and restored in the Windsor Castle fire of 1992.
This is also the first collection and exhibition of paintings of Westminster Abbey to be made since it’s foundation. The entire collection was acquired by The Dean & Chapter of Westminster Abbey earlier this year.
They show intimate details of small parts of the Abbey through to grand vistas along the nave and important ceremonies that have taken place over the past few years. The use of watercolours and the way he presents the casting of light and shadows has given the Abbey a magical air, which seems quite apt for a religious building.
Some of his sketches are also shown alongside the finished works, affording a glimpse into the artistic process that lead to their creation.
The display is in the Chapter House, itself a stunning room that was once the precursor to the modern Parliament, and still in a curious way, not technically part of the Abbey. That’s why entry here can be free of charge.
To go in, avoid the main entrance, and go to the side and wander through the gatehouse into Deans Yard — a space the public rarely see — and go to the groups entrance to the Abbey.
Tell the staff you want to visit the art exhibition and they’ll wave you through. You can also explore the Pyx Chamber and Cloisters while you’re here, so the art is good, and the setting historic.
The exhibition, Glimpses of Eternity is in the Chapter House daily 10am to 4:30pm until 16th May. The Chapter House is closed on Sundays, for obvious reasons.
There’s also a book accompanying the display, available from the Abbey shop, or here.