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Paula Byrne has just revealed that the church tower shown in the “new” portrait is not Westminster Abbey, as previously speculated, but is that of St Margaret’s Church, Westminster.
St Margaret’s was built as a church where the ordinarily people who lived near to Westminster Abbey could worship. The present building was begun in 1245 during the reign of Henry III but was rebuilt between 1486 and 1523. Since 1614 it has been the parish church of the Palace of Westminster, which is of course where the House of Commons and the House of Lords are situated.It is famous, among other things, for its grand society weddings.
This picture, above, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons, shows the tower very clearly. It was rebuilt by the Hampshire born architect, John James, who was an assistant of Sir Christopher Wren, between the years 17343 to 1738. His most famous commission was St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, in smart, rich and elegant Mayfair, shown below. This image is from my collection of prints from the early nineteenth century part work, The Beauties of England and Wales:
This was, of course, where poor Mary Crawford dreamt of marrying Edmund Bertram in Chapter 43 of Mansfield Park.
Back to St Margaret’s, and I think this, visually, makes more sense. The two towers look very similar. What do you think?