Project Blog

Welcome to the project blog! Here you will find short articles created by members of the project team detailing new research, elements of the technical development process and our participation at conferences and events.

Friday 7th July 2017 | Dr John Cooper

Looking back on the St Stephen’s Project, there have been numerous high points during our four years of research. A lasting memory will be the day in June 2015 when we brought the sacred music of Nicholas Ludford back to the site of St Stephen’s Chapel for the first time since the Reformation, sung by the choir of Gonville and Caius College Cambridge. Thanks to a grant from the University of York’s Strategic Initiative Fund, we were able to employ a professional film crew to record this unique event. Watch and listen here.

Sir Charles Barry, by John Prescott Knight. Oil on canvas, c.1851. © The National Portrait Gallery, London. NPG 1227.
Wednesday 20th July 2016 | Dr Caroline Shenton

“It is my object, as an architect”, Charles Barry told MPs considering the decoration of the New Houses of Parliament in 1841, “to give the most striking effect to the building as a whole, and I think that the effect of architecture can in no way be so highly enhanced as by the arts of painting and sculpture”.

The Coronation of St Edward the Confessor, Thirteenth-Century Mural in the Painted Chamber, the Palace of Westminster, recorded by Charles Stothard. Coloured engraving, published in the sixth volume of Vetusta Monumenta, 1821-1885.
Monday 20th June 2016 | Jennifer Caddick

In this month's blog post, Jennifer Caddick of the University of York explores the use of the medieval Place of Westminster's Painted Chamber as the meeting place for parliaments. How did its lavishly decorated walls inspire and inform proceedings?

Westminster Abbey and the Parliament House from the Thames, unknown artist. Pen on paper, 1515-1532. © The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, E,128-1924.
Friday 13th May 2016 | Dr Mark Collins

In this month’s blog post, Dr Mark Collins, Archivist and Historian of the Parliamentary Estates Directorate, explores recent archaeological discoveries at the Palace of Westminster. Excavations by Museum of London Archaeology in Black Rod’s garden uncover evidence for the Tudor riverfront of the medieval palace, timber posts and fragments of high-status encaustic tile.

Thomas Egerton, 1st Viscount Brackley, unknown artist. Oil on panel, late-sixteenth to early-seventeenth century. © The National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG 3783.
Wednesday 13th April 2016 | Dr Elizabeth Biggs

In this month’s blog post, our Project’s Ph.D. Student Researcher, Elizabeth Biggs, opens a fascinating window into the House of Commons, from archival sources uncovered in the Huntington Library, California. The story is one of the vicissitudes of sixteenth century fashion, the suggestive power of institutional memory and the precedents for galleries inside the Commons Chamber itself.

The English and Scottish Commissioners present to Queen Anne at St James’s Palace the Articles of Agreement for the Parliamentary Union of the Two Countries, 1707, by Sir Thomas Monnington. Oil on canvas, 1928. © Palace of Westminster Collection, WOA 2599.
Wednesday 14th October 2015 | James Ford

James Ford of the University of Nottingham examines the continuing significance of one of the 'Building of Britain' murals in St Stephen's Hall. Thomas Monnington's monumental commemoration of the 1707 Act of Union provoked differing responses when unveiled, and its subject still resonates in current debate on the nature, and future, of the Union itself.

The Martyrdom of St John the Evangelist, carved and painted boss, 1858-1863. Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, Palace of Westminster.
Monday 14th September 2015 | Dr James Hillson

In this month's blog post our Associate Researcher, James Hillson, considers the singular reoccurrence of individuals named John in the history of St Stephen's Chapel, Westminster. From the medieval fabric roles, to Georgian antiquaries, and on to present-day scholars, why do so many Johns seem gravitate towards this one building?

The Exhibition fully installed in Westminster Hall.
Friday 14th August 2015 | Lizzie Atkinson

To mark the Project’s Exhibition Parliament in the Making: St Stephen’s Chapel, Lizzie Atkinson, one of three volunteer interns with the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past (IPUP) at the University of York, records her impressions of fielding the public’s reaction and engagement to the seven-hundred-year saga of St Stephen’s Chapel.

King John confronted by his Barons assembled in force at Runnymede gives unwilling consent to Magna Carta, the foundation of justice and individual freedom in England, 1215, by Charles Sims. Oil on canvas, 1927. © Palace of Westminster Collection, WOA 2602
Monday 15th June 2015 | James Ford

To commemorate the eight-hundredth anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta, our new associate researcher James Ford examines the reception of Charles Sims’ depiction of events at Runneymede in 1215. This is the first of two blog posts exploring the series of monumental canvases, collectively known as The Building of Britain series, commissioned in the early-Twentieth Century to decorate St Stephen's Hall.

George Scharf (?). The disclosure of Bishop Lyndwood’s burial. Watercolour, 1852. © The Trustees of the British Museum, 1874,0314.170.
Wednesday 13th May 2015 | Dr Elizabeth Biggs

Elizabeth Biggs of the University of York explores the surprising discovery of William Lyndwood's burial at St Stephen's Chapel in 1852, and muses upon why this fifteenth-century Bishop of St David's chose to be buried here.

The Reformed House of Commons, 1833, by Sir George Hayter. Oil on canvas, 1833-34. © The National Portrait Gallery, London. NPG 54.
Monday 13th April 2015 | Rebekah Moore

Rebekah Moore of the Institute of Historical Research explains the significance of one of the last depictions of St Stephen’s before the 1834 fire, painted to commemorate the Great Reform Act of 1832.

John Wilkes, by William Hogarth. Etching, 1763. © The National Portrait Gallery, London. NPG D8506.
Tuesday 17th March 2015 | Dr Robin Eagles

Dr Robin Eagles of the History of Parliament Trust explores the political career of that champion of liberty John Wilkes MP, and the importance of Alice’s Coffee House to the workings of eighteenth century legislature.

Medieval seal of the College, from Brayley & Britton’s <em>Ancient Palace</em> (1836).
Tuesday 13th January 2015 | Dr James Jago

Dr James Jago explains the story behind the St Stephen’s Chapel Logo, and the enduring significance of St Stephen to the Palace of Westminster and this Project as a whole.

Examples of tiles from St. Stephen’s Hall. (© Parliamentary Estates Directorate)
Tuesday 18th November 2014 | Dr Mark Collins

Dr Mark Collins looks at the encaustic tiles in St. Stephen’s Hall, which have recently undergone a programme of conservation as part of an overall plan to repair the tile floors throughout the Palace of Westminster.

Friday 17th October 2014 | Dr Martha Vandrei

Martha Vandrei considers the issues of national identity and stylistic association in the reconstruction of the Palace of Westminster following the 1834 fire.

The project's 'campaign map' of the medieval Palace.
Friday 19th September 2014 | Dr John Cooper

The impending first anniversary of starting work on the St Stephen’s project seems a good moment to pause and reflect. What have we achieved so far, and where will we be heading next? What do I know about the role of Principal Investigator that I didn’t know when that marvellous email arrived from AHRC just over a year ago, informing us that we had been granted the money? What kind of an impact is our project beginning to make?

Detail from 'Panorama of the Ruins of the Old Palace of Westminster', 1834, by George Scharf. © Palace of Westminster Collection (WOA 3793)
Monday 23rd June 2014 | Dr Caroline Shenton

Exploring the story behind George Scharf's 'Panorama of the Ruins of the Old Palace of Westminster', a painting of the Westminster ruins in the immediate aftermath of the fire of 1834.

Detail of St Stephen's Upper Chapel buttress, drawing in progress. © James Hillson 2014
Friday 6th June 2014 | Dr James Hillson

Find out more about the ongoing research into the architectural history of St Stephen's Chapel. This information then feeds into the production of accurate digital drawings, which will in turn inform the generation of 3D models.

Tuesday 27th May 2014 | Dr Elizabeth Hallam Smith (Chair)

Find out about the partnership between the St Stephen's Chapel project and the Houses of Parliament, written by Liz Hallam Smith - Director of Information Services and Librarian at the House of Lords and Chair of the project's executive board.

Monday 2nd December 2013 | Dr Elizabeth Biggs

A perspective from Elizabeth Biggs, a PhD student associated with the project whose task involves constructing a history of the college of canons at the chapel of St Stephen’s.