St Mary Undercroft Today

St Mary Undercroft taken by Tim Banting, Digital Imaging Technician, Parliamentary Archives

St Mary Undercroft was almost completely rebuilt as part of Charles Barry’s New Palace of Westminster, on the same footprint as the old St Mary’s, with St Stephen’s Hall above it.

When they were taking down the walls in 1851, they found the body of William Lyndwood. The new chapel was decorated in the 1860s by Edward Barry, Charles’ son, although the roof bosses were copied from the medieval originals, as seen in this newspaper illustration. The decoration resembles the mosaics in St Mark’s, Venice and the stained glass showing scenes from the life of St Stephen was designed by John Hardman. Members of Parliament, peers and senior members of staff can get married or have their children baptised in the chapel today.

 

On the night before the 1911 census the suffragette Emily Davison hid in a broom cupboard just outside St Mary Undercroft so that she could list her address as the House of Commons as a protest for voting rights for women. The MP Tony Benn added a plaque in that cupboard in her memory in the 1990s. In 2014, before his funeral in St Margaret’s Church just across the road, Tony Benn’s body rested in the chapel overnight. He was only the second politician to be given that honour. Margaret Thatcher’s coffin was kept in the chapel before her funeral in April 2013, and an extra service was held there for some of her closest supporters and friends. In April 2017, the Queen gave her permission for PC Keith Palmer's body to lie in rest before his police funeral at Southwark Cathedral.

 

Find out more about the forgotten burial place of William Lynwood.

 

 

 

 

Last updated April 2017

Biographies

You can access biographies of

Charles Barry

Augustus Pugin

Edward Barry

Emily Wilding Davison

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Also within Living Heritage

Discover more about Emily Wilding Davison and Parliament