Westminster rose to prominence under the patronage of Edward the Confessor in the 11th century. When the king moved his residence from the City of London to a new palace near the Abbey he established Westminster as the seat of royal power, and the Abbey began its long association with the monarchy. The original Abbey is shown at the start of the Bayeux Tapestry, with a hand of god descending from the heavens in a gesture of blessing. Recent discoveries in the foundations at the Abbey confirm that this building was indeed as large as portrayed, closely resembling the image on the tapestry. Harold Godwineson, is known to have been at Westminster when the Edward died and it is likely that his crowning the following day was in the Abbey, though there is no surviving contemporary evidence to confirm it. William, Duke of Normandy, chose the Abbey for his crowning on Christmas Day 1066: the first certain crowning of a king at Westminster.
- The Jerusalem Chamber, has rich frescoes and old stained glass,
- The Chapter House, built in the 13th century, was from then to 1547 used for the meetings of Parliament.
- The South Transept is lit by a large rose window, with glass dating from 1902.
- 1245 - King Henry III (1207-1272) ordered the Abbey rebuilt as a shrine to Saint Edward the Confessor. Henry spent around £45,000 of his own money on the project. The Anglo-French Gothic additions were designed by the mason Henry de Reyns in the style of Amiens Cathedral and Reims Cathedral in France.
- 13 October 1269 - High altar consecrated. Workmen brought from Italy. Shrine of Saint Edward the Confessor built by Peter the Roman.
- 1303 - The Crown Jewels were stolen from Westminster Abbey by Richard de Podelicote. On recovery they were transferred to the Tower of London.
- 1540 - Dissolution of the Benedictine abbey by Henry VIII.
- 1746 - Giovanni Antonio Canale, called Canaletto (1697-1768) visited London in search of artistic patronage, where he stayed until 1755 (apart from a brief visit to Venice in 1750-1751). His painting "Westminster Abbey, with a Procession of Knights of the Bath" (1749) shows the abbey's two newly constructed western towers, which were built in Portland stone between 1722 and 1745 and designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, an early example of a Gothic Revival style.
- 1834 - Edward Blore re-modelled the choir screen.
North Rose Window
The decaying tracery of the north rose window was completely destroyed and remodelled, and in the first years of the 18th century when Sir Christopher Wren was Surveyor of the fabric, while he saved much of the stone-work from ruin, much destruction (restoration) happened under his directions - and after his time those of his successors. The decaying stone all round the nave and both transepts was in urgent need of repair, if not actually in ruins, and, probably in order to save trouble and expense, the small Early English pilasters supporting the window tracery were cut off, and an acorn was substituted in each case. These pilasters have subsequently been re-restored. The (replacement) stained glass in the north rose window was designed by Sir James Thornhill in 1722, and was altered in the late 19th century by J. L. Pearson. Gold and silver £5 coins issued in 2007 to celebrate the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's Diamond Wedding feature the window. Engraver Emma Noble said she became focused on the rose window while sketching features of the Abbey. "For me, it was the one element that really stood out and was easily recognisable," she said. "I am thrilled that my design has been chosen to commemorate such an important occasion in British royal history."
Architecture and History, and Westminster Abbey
"Westminster Abbey, setting aside the destruction of furniture and decorations which as a matter of course took place under the two Puritan upheavals, and which was not so complete here as in some churches, the repairs or renewals done at different periods before our own, by men who had no sympathy with the original work, have been sufficiently disastrous to the exterior. The heavy hand of the academical classical architect has been more or less all over the building outside. The north transept, which in the time of Hollar, if one may judge from his curious nondescript engraving, was in a genuine condition, though possibly needing repair greatly, was reduced to the due commonplace ugliness which was then thought to be impressively respectable; the western towers omitted by the medieval builders were supplied in the same style, having been probably designed by Wren and carried out by Hawksmoor, and remain in good condition, as monuments of the incapacity of 17th and 18th century architects to understand the work of their forefathers; and perhaps one might say that they furnish a wholesome lesson to future ages not to attempt the imitation of a past epoch of art."
Architecture and History, and Westminster Abbey, William Morris. Paper read before the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings on 1 July 1884.