Product Inspiration: Lantern Crossing Ceiling
One of the latest additions to our online shop is a beautiful collection of jewellery inspired by the painted ceiling of the lantern crossing, which includes a necklace, earrings and cufflinks. The jewellery is made from gold plated silver, silver and enamel with a yellow topaz set into the centre of the cross design.
The ceiling that inspired this jewellery sits within a part of the Abbey which has been subject to many changes in the past. The main building of Westminster Abbey was constructed so that when viewed from above it forms the shape of a cross, with the sacrarium and nave running down the centre and the north and south transepts on either side. The place where these points of the building meet is called the crossing, and above it is the lantern. The crossing within Westminster Abbey is a large space as it is where the coronation ceremony is performed. The lantern which sits above it has been subject to many changes over the years with many towers being built and then demolished.
When Christopher Wren was Surveyor of the Fabric at Westminster Abbey he wished to restore the building to its former glory by erecting a 400 foot tower and spire, although he did not live to see this built. His successor, Nicholas Hawksmoor, tried to bring his idea to life; however, due to the preparations for the coronation of King George II, all scaffolding had to be removed and the project never progressed beyond the early stages. Construction was not resumed after the coronation and the lantern tower was never completed, with a temporary roof being built over the top of it. It was damaged in 1803 and repaired but it has essentially remained the same as it was before the coronation of King George II.
The lantern tower and roof remained like this until the Second World War when Westminster Abbey came under fire in a terrible night of air raids in May 1941. Fire bombs fell throughout the Abbey and its precincts with the worst hitting the lantern roof, burning through the lead and lodging in one of the beams. Due to the height of the building and the low water supplies it could not be easily put out so the roof ended up crashing to the floor below. Following the war much work was needed to repair the damage caused by the air raids, but progress was slow due to the great financial cost. The lantern roof and ceiling were not properly restored until 1958 by the Surveyor of the Fabric at the time, Stephen Dykes Bower. Dykes Bower created the elaborate design painted on the ceiling after the restoration was finished, and which has inspired this new jewellery range.
To shop for more of our products inspired by the history and beauty of Westminster Abbey, please click here.