HC Deb 04 May 1865 vol 178 cc1468-9

said, he wished to ask the First Commissioner of Works, What sum has been expended upon the Crypt connected with this House, under what heading of the Estimates this sum was voted, and to what use or purpose it is intended to apply the Crypt as now embellished?


said, in reply, that the restoration and reparation of the Palace of Westminster had commenced more than twenty years ago, and the expenditure on the Crypt formed part of the general contract applicable to the whole building, and it was not possible after the lapse of so many years to distinguish what portion of the expenditure was particularly applied to the Crypt. There was one item, however, referring to it upon which, being a special contract, he could give some information, and that was with regard to the decorative painting and gilding; the whole cost of that work was only £630. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members were doubtless surprised at the smallness of the sum, and it was right to state that the contract was very favourable to the Government, and the work he (Mr. Cowper) apprehended would cost the decorator more than he would receive from the Government. Mr. Crace, being a man of public spirit and faithful to the discharge of his duty, spared no expense or pains to make the decoration of the building worthy of it. The hon. Member also asked what use the Crypt would be put to. It was thought right upon public grounds that such an admirable specimen of the architecture of the 13th century should be restored and open to public exhibition, when the taste for architecture was so widely diffused, and when its cultivation was carried on so successfully in this country. It was not proposed to restore the Crypt to the exact use to which it was put in the time of King Stephen, when it was used as the only Chapel of the ancient Palace of Westminster, nor to the use to which it was put after its restoration at the end of the 13th century. He thought, however, that it would be very convenient to the persons resident within that building, and to many Members of that House and the public at large, if they had opportunities of attending public worship in the Crypt, and he hoped, therefore, arrangements would be made to use it as a place of public worship.