HC Deb 11 July 1820 vol 2 cc395-6

On the report of the Appropriation bill being brought up,

Sir M. W. Ridley

said, he wished to put a question to the right hon. gentleman opposite. A number of fine trees which had long stood an ornament in St. Margaret's Church yard, had been recently cut down, and he was informed that they were cut down for a reason disgraceful to the dean and chapter of Westminster; they were cut down, if he were rightly informed, for the purpose of creating a space intended to be let at a high price to persons who might be anxious to view the coronation. Those trees had stood for many years an ornament to the venerable fabric which they shaded; and as to the fabric itself, on looking into the interior of Westminster Abbey—on viewing the state of those monuments, which were an ornament of the age, and an evidence at once of the gratitude of the country, and of the high heroic and patriot virtues which called that gratitude forth—it was, he said, most painful to see the disgraceful manner in which those monuments, as well as the interior entire building, were neglected.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

could not say whether the act was done by the dean and chapter or by parish vestry. As to cutting down the trees, he apprehended the same had been done on former coronations.

Sir J. Newport

said, the dean and chapter had all the advantages, whilst the public were obliged to meet the expences of Westminster Abbey. He considered the neglect of that fine edifice as most scandalous and disgraceful, and a fit subject for the reprobation of that House. If on any occasion an application should be made to parliament for the repairs of Westminster Abbey, they should be guarded indeed in awarding any grant of money for that purpose.

Mr. Bankes

said, that the cutting down of those trees for a sordid purpose, reflected any thing but honour on the reverend body. He would not vote in future, for any money for the repairs of Westminster Abbey; and he thought the House should resist any such vote if it should be proposed.

Mr. W. Smith

said, it was shameful to see the manner in which the inspection of the interior of this edifice was, as it were, let out by two-pences; no one felt more disgust at such conduct than he did; but the dean and chapter could not be expected to lay out, as the public had done, 41,000l. in the splendid decorations of Henry the 7th's chapel.

Sir M. W. Ridley

said, that early in the next session he would bring under the consideration of the House, the state of Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's.