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Model for the proposed restoration of the monument to Queen Philippa of Hainault

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    about 1850-1 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Scott, George Gilbert Sir, born 1811 - died 1878 (designed by)
    Birnie Philip, John, born 1824 - died 1875 (made)
    Willement, Thomas, born 1786 - died 1871 (painter)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted and gilded alabaster and marble

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This model for the proposed restoration of the monument to Queen Philippa of Hainault is designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in ca. 1850-1, with the statuettes made by John Birnie Philip, the marble background and alabaster niches by Samuel Cundy and the painting and gilding work executed by Thomas Willement.

The question of the restoration of the royal tombs was much debated in the 1840s and 1850s. Both national pride and the growing interest in the authentic reproduction of medieval art made the battered state of the Westminster monuments appear intolerable. Shortly after his appointment as Surveyor, Scott undertook a scholarly reconstruction of the tomb of Philippa of Hainault (died 1369) which was translated into this full scale model by the skills of Samuel Cundy, the Abbey Mason and John Birnie Philip, one of the finest and most prolific contemporary sculptors.
Although this model was shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and three years later Parliament voted £4,500 towards the restoration of the royal tombs, nothing structural was done. Instead from 1857 onwards, Scott treated the tombs with a particular concoction of shellac which reintegrated their flaking stonework.
While Scott's design gives an accurate impression of the intricate detail and the colouring of the monument as originally conceived, it remains a High Victorian evocation of the Middle Ages. The model was exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1851 and at the Architectural Exhibition in 1852.

Scott (1811-1878) was an architect. He was educated at home and with his uncle. Then he became a pupil of Sir Robert Smirke and afterwards practised both independently and also in partnership with W.B. Moffat. He was much concerned with the Gothic revival. As such he was responsible for the building or restauration of many churches, cathedrals, chapels and public buildings, like workhouses and schools. He also designed for example the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park, the Glasgow University building and St. Pancras Station.

Physical description

A series of five canopied niches applied to a grey marble background. Occupying the niches from left to right, are alabaster statuettes (all with gilt metal crowns) representing Edward the Black Prince, Queen Philippa of Hainault, Edward III, King John of France and William Count of Holland and Hainault. Each figure stands on a foliated corbel, below which is a pierced quatrefoil on which is applied the relevant coat of arms. On either side of the centre canopy and at the top left and right corners are winged angels with gilt metal crowns. On the left ad right returns are winged angels supporting scrolls.

Place of Origin

England (made)


about 1850-1 (made)


Scott, George Gilbert Sir, born 1811 - died 1878 (designed by)
Birnie Philip, John, born 1824 - died 1875 (made)
Willement, Thomas, born 1786 - died 1871 (painter)

Materials and Techniques

Painted and gilded alabaster and marble


Weight: 378 kg in 1994, Height: 110 cm, Width: 159 cm

Object history note

One of nine previously unregistered models found in the Museum and accessioned in 1973. This model may have arrived in the Museum sometime after the Architectural Exhibition of 1852, where it was on show. The model may have once been in the South Kensington Museum, but by 1879 it had been returned to the Architectural Museum. The Royal Architectural Museum was founded in 1852 with Sir George Gilbert Scott as its head - merged with the Architectural Association in 1903. In 1916 with the demise of the Architectural Association, 127 architectural fragments, formerly belonging to the Royal Architectural Museum, together with 3905 plaster casts, were transferred to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It may have been at that time that the model was returned - unrecorded - to the Museum.

Descriptive line

Model, alabaster and dark marble, Tomb of Queen Philippa of Hainault, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, made by J.B Philip and S. Cundy, Thomas Willement, England, ca. 1850-1

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Noppen, J.G. 'A Tomb and Effigy by Hennequin of Liège', The Burlington Magazine, 1931, vol. 59, pp. 114-117.
Morand, K. Claus Sluter: Artist at the Court of Burgundy, London, 1991, fig. 20.
Lethaby. W.R. Westminster Abbey & the Kings Craftsmen. A Study of Medieval Building, London, 1906, pp. 251-3.
Morganstern, A.M. 'Le tombeau de Philippa le Handi et ses contecédents' in Actes des journées internationales claus slater, Dijon, 1992, pp. 176-77, fig. 2, p. 183.
The Builder, Vol. X, 1852, p. 33.
Scott, Gilbert, Sir. ed. Scott, G.G. Jnr. Personal and Professional Recollections, 1881, p. 164-5.
Gunnis, Rupert. Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, London, 1953.
The Builder, Vol. XXV, 1867, p. 464.
Bilbey, Diane with Trusted, Marjorie. British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2002, pp. 354-5, cat. no. 530.
Bottoms, Edward. 'The Royal Architectural Museum in the light of new documentaty evidence' in Journal of the History of Collections, Vol. 19, no. 1, 2007, pp. 122-3, 136. note 104.
Droth, Martina, Edwards, Jason, and Hatt, Michael, Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837-1901, exh. cat., YUP, New Haven and London, 2015, pp. 162-164
Buttress, Donald and Thomas Cocke, 900 Years: The Restorations of Westminster Abbey, London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 1995.


Alabaster; Marble


Carved; Gilding; Painting

Subjects depicted

Crown; Coat of arms


Sculpture; Death; Architecture


Sculpture Collection

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