History

Retable
A recent addition to the Museum display is the 13th century Westminster Retable, England's oldest altarpiece. It was most probably designed for the High Altar of the Abbey. The Westminster Retable is acknowledged to be one of the most important surviving examples of panel painting from 13th century England. It returned to the Abbey in 2005, following conservation work just after celebrations to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the birth of Abbey founder, Edward the Confessor.
Brasses
The Abbey has a fine series of monumental brasses dating from the late 13th century onwards. A brass consists of engraved metal plates, shaped and cut to fit into a matrix prepared for them on a tomb. The earliest figure brass in England is that to Sir John D’Abernon, 1277, at Stoke D’Abernon in Surrey. Brasses are important for the history of costume and armour but many were destroyed or melted down at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s and during the English Civil War.
Wall paintings
The most important wall paintings in the Abbey are from the late 13th century i.e. the figure of St Faith in her chapel and the figures of Christ with St Thomas and St Christopher in the south transept. The series of 14th century paintings of the Apocalypse and the Last Judgement in the Chapter House are the most extensive.
Cosmati pavement
The great pavement in front of the High Altar of Westminster Abbey is a unique and remarkable object. The complexity and subtlety of the design and workmanship can be seen nowhere else on this scale. It was laid down in 1268 by order of Henry III who had started re-building Edward the Confessor’s Abbey in the new Gothic style in 1245.