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Arthur, Viscount Lee of Fareham

Arthur Hamilton Lee, Viscount Lee of Fareham was a benefactor to Westminster Abbey. In 1939 and 1942 he gave two bronze candelabra, six feet by seven feet wide. These are by the sculptor Benno Elkan and represent scenes from the Old and New Testaments. These can now be seen in the south choir aisle. Originally given anonymously a small plaque at the base of each records the gift, on the occasion of their 40th wedding anniversary:

"These candelabra were given by Arthur Viscount Lee of Fareham G.C.B. and Ruth his wife as a thank offering 23 December 1899-1939. Deo Gratias"

He also presented the oil painting of the Virgin and Child by Bartolomeo Vivarini for the altar in the Lady Chapel and contributed to the new peal of bells after the First World War.

The 15th century triptych by Bicci di Lorenzo (originally placed on the south side of the High Altar) was also his gift. This has recently been conserved and will be on public display in the new Jubilee Galleries at the Abbey due to open mid-2018.

He was born at Bridport in Dorset in 1868 a son of the Revd.M.L.Lee and his wife Emily (Winter). He served in the army and taught in Canada before becoming British military attache with the American army in Cuba. During this campaign he was made an honorary "rough rider" and was a friend of Theodore Roosevelt. Later he was military attache in Washington and married Ruth Moore, daughter of a banker. They had no children. He became a Member of Parliament and from 1914-21 leased a house in the Abbey garden. They were great patrons of the arts and gave the mansion of Chequers to the nation to be used as the country residence of British Prime Ministers. As a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath his stall plate can be seen in the Lady Chapel. He died in 1947.

Photos of the candelabra and the oil paintings can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading

"A good innings - private papers of Viscount Lee of Fareham" edited by Alan Clark.

Arthur, Viscount Lee of Fareham
Arthur, Viscount Lee of Fareham

George Charles Beresford [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Arthur, Viscount Lee of Fareham
Candelabra by Benno Elkan

© The Dean and Chapter of Westminster

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Arthur, Viscount Lee of Fareham
Virgin and Child by Bartolomeo Vivarini on altar

Virgin and Child by Bartolomeo Vivarini

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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