St Margaret Westminster - The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks

St Margaret Westminster

• St. Margaret Westminster is situated in the grounds of Westminster Abbey on Parliament Square and is the parish church of the House of Commons. It is dedicated to Margaret of Antioch.

• Originally founded in the twelfth century by Benedictine monks, so that local people who lived in the area around the Abbey could worship separately at their own simpler parish church, and historically part of the hundred of Ossulstone in the county of Middlesex, St Margaret's was rebuilt from 1486 to 1523.

• It became the parish church of the Palace of Westminster in 1614, when the Puritans of the seventeenth century, unhappy with the highly liturgical Abbey, chose to hold Parliamentary services in the more "suitable" St Margaret's: a practice that has continued since that time.

• The north-west tower was rebuilt by John James from 1734 to 1738; at the same time, the whole structure was encased in Portland stone. Both the eastern and the western porch were added later by J. L. Pearson. The church's interior was greatly restored and altered to its current appearance by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1877, although many of the Tudor features were retained.

• Notable features include the east window of 1509 of Flemish stained glass, created to commemorate the betrothal of Catherine of Aragon to Henry VIII. Other windows commemorate William Caxton, Britain's first printer, who was buried at the church in 1491, Sir Walter Raleigh, executed in Old Palace Yard and then also buried in the church in 1618.

• Following the Restoration of the Monarchy, in 1661 the Parliamentarians who had been buried in Westminster Abbey were disinterred from the Abbey and reburied in an unmarked pit in St Margaret's churchyard on the orders of King Charles II. A memorial to them can now be found set into the external wall to the left of the main west entrance.


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