HC Deb 09 July 1863 vol 172 cc432-3

said, the Question which he was about to ask was one which was worthy the best attention of that House. A great number of hon. Members bad subscribed for the purpose of erecting a bust of the late Sir George Lewis in Westminster Abbey; but an unexpected difficulty arose. No sooner was the bust offered to the Dean and Chapter, for the purpose of being preserved in the abbey in company with the memorials of other illustrious men, than the Dean and Chapter demanded some £200. He could not think that any person would like to encourage such a demand. He would therefore beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Under what conditions monuments erected by public subscription in memory of eminent public men can be placed in Westminster Abbey; and whether it is the fact that fees to the extent of £200 are demanded by the Bean and Chapter for permission to place the bust of the late Sir George Cornewall Lewis in the Abbey; and for what purpose the fees are applied?


said, in reply, that not having any information on the subject, he sent a copy of the hon. Gentleman's notice to the Bean of Westminster, with a request that he would give such explanations as might be necessary. The best answer to the hon. Gentleman's question would be to read the letter which he had received from the Dean in reply. The Dean said— The power of granting or refusing permission to erect monuments in the Abbey rests exclusively with the Dean, except when the House of commons, by a Vote and grant of public money, takes the matter out of his hands. I have invariably refused to allow the erection of statues, as encroaching on space which ought to belong to worshippers, and is already unduly encumbered with stone and marble. The fine and fees, amounting to £200, which have been charged for the erection of a bust and tablet to the late Sir George Cornewall Lewis (being the same as were paid in the case of Sir James Mackintosh) will be thus distributed;—Fabric fund, £184 13s. 1d.; dean and canons, £4 6s. 8d.; clerk of the works and other officers; £11 0s. 3d.; total, £200. The above sum of £184 13s. 1d., apportioned according to fixed usage to the fabric, is not so much spared to the Dean and Chapter, which they must otherwise have spent for the sustentation of the building, inasmuch as a fixed proportion of their income is annually assigned to that object, entirely irrespective of any accidental additions of this kind. If the fees seem high, I can only urge that we are anxious to reduce as far as possible the number of monuments admitted into the Abbey.