William Morris

The Mortuary Chapel, Westminster Abbey

I have read with much interest the proposal of Mr Yates Thompson about the revival of Mr Pearson's scheme for thenew mortuary chapel at Westminster Abbey, and am very pleased to see the note of warning which you have raised, and with which I entirely agree. The whole ground round the Abbey is full of archaeological value, and from this point of view it is most dangerous to tamper with it. But there are other reasons for looking on this scheme with apprehension. Mr Pearson's scheme as adopted by Mr Yates Thompson, decidedly means an addition to the ancient building, I mean a new part added to it. This seems to me objectionable to the last degree. The ancient building at Westminster is in a special degree the work of the people of the country in past times, and it is particularly interesting to note that a work of art which has no individual architect's name connected with it, and is obviously a work of co-operative art, should be of such unrivalled beauty. To add a piece of modern antique, the outcome of an architect's office, to what is left of the genuine expression of the minds and hands of our forefathers, would surely be an act of blind rashness which would show that those who perpetuated it had no reasonable conception of either art or history.

Letter to the Daily Chronicle, 27 February 1894