First, I need to confess that I am a royal watcher. I remember being in college in 1973 and getting up early with my friends to watch Princess Anne’s wedding and several years later watching as Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer. Sadly, I also remember Diana’s funeral as I was in London for a courier trip immediately following her death. I stood on the street and watched the procession and then went to Hyde Park where thousands of people gathered to watch the funeral televised on these huge soccer screens.
Today, I woke up early to enjoy a much happier occasion, the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. Her gown was stunning, the ceremony was gorgeous, however, I was horrified to hear an American commentator repeatedly refer to Westminster Abbey as having been built in the “11th century.” So, in honor of Catherine Middleton, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, (who I recently discovered is a fellow art historian), I would like to clarify that,according to Westminster’s own website, “The present church, begun by Henry III in 1245, is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the country, with the medieval shrine of an Anglo-Saxon saint still at its heart.”
While Gothic architecture originated in France (think Notre Dame), those beautiful, high, pointed, arches throughout Westminster clearly mark it as one of the great Gothic buildings of England. Had it been constructed in the 11th century, the arches would have been rounded, characteristic of the Romanesque (or Norman) architecture of the time.
History lesson aside, the wedding was beautiful and I join with the rest of the world in wishing the couple much happiness.
CMA Executive Director