Archaeology at Glastonbury Abbey on-line

Trustees of Glastonbury Abbey, 2007 (updated 2010)

Data copyright © Trustees of Glastonbury Abbey, Individual Authors unless otherwise stated


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The Lady Chapel

Introduction

Reconstruction of the scheme (Jerry Sampson)

The Lady Chapel of Glastonbury Abbey is one of the finest late 12th-century monuments in Britain. It was built immediately after the disastrous fire which consumed much of the abbey in 1184, and was completed by 1186 or 1187. The chapel is famous for its very rich sculpted ornament including much chevron decoration, capitals in Early English style and portals with elaborate floral and figure sculpture.

In the course of conservation work in 1995 a detailed study of the chapel's interior revealed extensive evidence of a complex and very costly painted scheme covering many of the wall surfaces. It almost certainly dates to 1184-99 - probably to 1184-89. This report, illustrated by detailed line drawings, presents in detail the fragmentary evidence for the scheme.

The discoveries add a new dimension to an understanding of the chapel. They confirm the statement of Adam of Domerham that it was a work 'of the most beautiful workmanship, omitting no possible ornament'.