Photographer: Coburn, Alvin Langdon (1882-1966)
Medium: Photographic print
"The Abbey is the proof of what that central authority thought of Westminster, and of how the kingship incarnated itself in the royal village. The thirteenth century in its noblest expression remains there a very rare exception to the general ruin which the dissolution of the monasteries brought upon such monuments of the national tradition. Bermondsey has gone, Chertsey has gone, and every othere suburban foundation except the Abbey. When the monasteries had been sacked and destroyed, the Great Fire came to complete the obliteration so far as London was concerned, and those buildings which, being of secular foundation, remained, especially the great Cathedral of St. Paul's, were lost. Westminster remains, and we must be grateful to whatever motive it was, policy, or avarice, or family pride, or mere delay, that saved this one witness to the spirit of mediaeval London. There is no other. In Westminster, where the King's Court was already established, the thirteenth century saw another growth. Somewhat tardily...the English Parliament there arose. And before the Middle Ages were over, St. Stephen's Chapel in the King's Palace had become the common meeting placeof the Knights of the Shire and of the Burgesses, summoned to grant taxes to the King, and ultimately admitted to take some share in the leglislation which the King, and his great prelates and abbots round him...inaugurated."
Text by Hilaire Belloc from the book 'London'