Christianity in 10 objects
While there are over 3,000 people buried or memorialised in Westminster Abbey, this is one of the few surviving sculptor’s models, called a maquette. Sculptors often used models to develop their design. They worked at a much smaller scale to figure out the finer details before creating larger structures. Do you ever practice before making the final version? We can tell that this is a work in progress because the maquette has some big differences compared to the final monument, like the position of the man.
This monument is one of the most dramatic in the Abbey and was designed by a famous sculptor, Louis-Francois Roubiliac. It remembers Lady Elizabeth Nightingale and her husband Joseph Gascoigne. We can see what they meant to each other from the maquette and the final monument. While the maquette shows the couple caring for each other, the final monument shows Joseph trying to protect his wife from another figure, a skeleton representing Death. The figure of Death looks so terrifying that it once scared off a robber at the Abbey.
Whether depicting people in great detail in dramatic scenes like this one, or using a more simple statute or stone, memorials are a way of remembering people who have died. Westminster Abbey is full of memorials to kings and queens as well as famous writers, scientists, activists and musicians. Christians believe in life after death, where people who believed in Christ and lived a good life will enjoy eternal life in Heaven. For their family and friends still on Earth, a Christian funeral allows them to pray for the person who has died, and a memorial helps them to grieve and remember.
Visit the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries to see the Lady Elizabeth and Joseph Nightingale monument maquette, and many more objects, in real life. High above the Abbey floor, come face to face with the Abbey’s greatest treasures covering over 1,000 years of faith and history. Along with worship, examine objects that teach us about the building of Westminster Abbey, its role in national memory and its relationship with royalty.
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You are surrounded by history at the Abbey, not like a museum where it’s just displayed, but here you are standing where history has happened.