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Sister Concordia Scott

Sister Concordia Scott O.S.B. of Minster Abbey near Ramsgate in Kent sculpted the fine alabaster statue of the Virgin and Child in the niche of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Pew in Westminster Abbey. It took 14 months to complete and was placed in the chapel on 10th May 1971. The original statue here had disappeared centuries ago. The design was inspired by a 15th century English alabaster Madonna at Westminster Cathedral. 

This small chapel hollowed out of the thickness of the wall between two chapels off the north ambulatory now forms the entrance into St John the Baptist's chapel. The original entrance to that chapel was blocked when the tomb to Bishop Ruthall was placed across it.

In its original form the Pew (meaning a small enclosure) was a self contained rectangular recess about five feet square with a niche and bracket for a statue (the outline and hooks still remain). An image was presented to the chapel by Mary, Countess of Pembroke (died 1377), widow of Aymer de Valence (a modern memorial to her was placed not far from this chapel).

While the new Lady Chapel was being built by Henry VII this chapel was quite probably used as such. As the old chapel of St Erasmus, to the south of the earlier 1220 Lady Chapel, was demolished at this time (1502) Abbot Islip salvaged some of the decoration from it and placed it above the door of the Pew. The name St Erasmus is painted underneath this sculpture.

The painted vaulting, with a carved boss depicting the Assumption, dates from the second half of the 14th century. The walls are elaborately painted, including teardrops containing fleurs de lys (symbolizing the sorrow of the Virgin Mary), and the white hart badge of Richard II. The wooden half gates with spikes and an iron bracket on the wall for an alms box or lamp are original. Tiny images of the "green man" can be seen on the doors.

Further reading

"Description of the chapel of St Erasmus" by J.T. Micklethwaite in Archaeologia vol. 44, 1873

"The chapel of St Mary le Pew", typescript by Barbara Harvey, 2006

"Chapel of Our Lady of the Pew" thesis by Signe Hedegaard, 2009

"Pew Chapel" by Matthew Payne, article on its use as a temporary Lady Chapel,  in the Westminster Abbey Review Summer 2019

Memorial

10th May 1971

Occupation

Artist

Location

North Ambulatory

Memorial Type

Statue

Material Type

Alabaster

Sister Concordia Scott
Sister Concordia Scott

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Sister Concordia Scott
Sister Concordia Scott statue

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Related commemorations

I’ve worked here for over thirty years and have seen many of the major services - it’s strange to realise that you are in a small way part of history.

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Pamela - Rector's Secretary

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