Dean’s Verger welcomes HM The Queen with new verge

Wednesday, 16th October 2019

Dean’s Verger welcomes HM The Queen with new verge

The Dean’s Verger at Westminster Abbey, Martin Castledine, carried a new silver verge marking the 750th anniversary of the building of Henry III’s Abbey as the Dean welcomed Her Majesty The Queen to the Abbey yesterday.

The Dean's Verger leads the Dean, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, to the West Gate to welcome the Monarch when she visits.

From the Latin virga meaning 'rod' the verge is the wand of office of a verger. At Westminster Abbey Martin Castledine leads a team of nine vergers who assist clergy during a service and who also look after the vestments and plate. They also offer visitors tours of the medieval church.

Martin Castledine said:

I thought that a new silver verge would be a wonderful way to mark our 750th anniversary, and the Dean agreed.
Julia Skilton at the Goldsmiths’ Centre put us in touch with three silversmiths and we selected Ottewill Silversmiths and Jewellers from Ashford in Kent. They in turn offered three designs and we chose elements from each.
One of our stipulations was that the piece should be made by an apprentice. So Stephen Ottewill gave the work to one of his apprentices, William Sullivan, who made the verge in its entirety and who will take it to Goldsmiths’ Hall at the end of this month as an example of the work he has completed during his apprenticeship.

The design of the new verge features, on one side of the head of the wand, the coat of arms of St Edward the Confessor, whose church at the Benedictine abbey was consecrated in 1065, and on the other, the coat of arms of Henry III, who began the construction of the church today known throughout the world as Westminster Abbey. Around the head of the verge is the inscription: '750th anniversary of Henry III's church 1269 – 2019'.

The cost of the new verge was met by the Dean & Chapter of Westminster together with a considerable donation from the Purcell Club, a group of former Abbey choristers who offer musical tours of the Abbey.