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Conservationists’ discoveries

Saturday, 14th April 2007

Conservationists’ discoveries

Four conservation students, working at the Abbey during their Easter holidays, were thoroughly cleaning the tomb and grille of Henry VII and made some surprising discoveries.

The pillars around the tomb had been used as rubbish bins during the 1950s and contained old tickets, sweet wrappers, and most interestingly, a leaflet about the Abbey’s funding from the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Abbey librarian, Tony Trowles, said he had never seen an Abbey leaflet like it:

I’m not sure if the leaflets were distributed with the ticket, or left out to pick up, but the wording is very interesting as it explains why admission has been charged - it could even be used today. 1951 was during a period of real austerity but with the Festival of Britain taking place, the Abbey probably expected to get a lot more visitors.

The leaflet states that the fee:

goes towards the great expense of keeping the Abbey in good repair and maintaining the services which are sung daily.

The students also found a lot of glass fragments and dust scattered around the tomb, even between Henry VII’s head and pillow. They think this may be remains of the windows that were blown out during the wartime bombing.

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Matthew - Keeper of the Muniments

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