Thomas Wright

Thomas Wright and his son Thomas James Wright both held the post of Clerk of the Works at Westminster Abbey. Thomas has a memorial stone in the south cloister (at the west end, outside what was originally the entrance to his office which now leads to the lavatories). Thomas James is buried in the west cloister nearby.

Thomas Wright

He was born on 2nd February 1822 at Boston in Lincolnshire, son of farmer James Wright (born 1780) of Friskney in that county. He was employed as a carpenter by Mr Cubitt, the builder, who sent him in 1846 to work on Osborne House (Queen Victoria's residence on the Isle of Wight) and on the restoration of Whippingham church. He married Emma Cribb of Cowes. They had five children: Thomas jnr., George Frederic, Emma Elizabeth (known as Lizzie who married a Wright cousin), Charlotte Jane and Ephraim Arnold.

In 1871 he came to work at the Abbey. The Clerk of Works is responsible for the day to day maintenance of the Abbey fabric and is in charge of the various workmen and also acts as sexton (digging the graves in the Abbey). During his time David Livingstone, Charles Darwin, Robert Browning and Lord Tennyson were buried. He also took a great interest in the restorations of the outside stonework of the Abbey, under the Abbey Surveyors Sir George Gilbert Scott and J.L. Pearson, and wrote a typescript account of the Abbey buildings. He died at Catford, south London, and was buried at Nunhead cemetery on 16th May 1906. His stone reads:

To the memory of Thomas Wright a faithful servant of this Church. Clerk of the Works 1871-1906.

Thomas James Wright

He was born on 15th January 1851 and married Margaret Douglas South. Their eight children were all born at 8 Smith Square, Westminster and baptised at St John the Evangelist church - Thomas Cribb, Margaret Emma, Daisy, Christina, Walter, Roland George, Dorothy (later Mrs Hunt), and Edith. He worked as a carpenter at the Abbey from about 1873 and succeeded his father in 1906. On his retirement in June 1928 he was called "The Grand Old Man of Westminster". In his time he superintended the digging of the grave of the Unknown Warrior (1920) and the poet Thomas Hardy. He was buried on 9th December 1928 and the gravestone reads:

Thomas James Wright Clerk of the Works. Born 1851. Died 1928. A loyal servant of the Abbey for fifty five years.

His son Walter (born 1887) worked at the Abbey for 52 years and became Foreman of Works. He retired in 1952 and died in 1979.

Further information

Thomas's typescript on the Abbey buildings and some family letters are in the Westminster Abbey archives collection

Born

2nd February 1822

Location

Cloisters; South Cloister

Memorial Type

Stone

Thomas Wright
Thomas Wright, Clerk of Works

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Thomas Wright
Thomas Wright memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Thomas Wright
Thomas James Wright, Clerk of Works, at his desk

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Thomas Wright
Thomas James Wright memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster