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  • Place of origin:

    Hertfordshire (made)
    England (cast)

  • Date:

    12th century (made)
    ca. 1850 (cast)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster cast

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This capital, showing scrolling foliage and conventional flowers, is from the slype, or covered passage between the chapterhouse and transcept, of St Alban's Cathedral, Hertfordshire.

Physical description

Capital carved with interlacing foliage and conventional flowers

Place of Origin

Hertfordshire (made)
England (cast)


12th century (made)
ca. 1850 (cast)

Materials and Techniques

Plaster cast


Height: 25 cm approximately, Width: 25 cm approximately, Length: 27 cm approximately

Object history note

This capital, carved with foliage and two dragons, is from the slype, or covered passage between the chapterhouse and transept, of St Alban's Cathedral, Hertfordshire. The chapterhouse was added to the Cathedral during the tenancy of Abbot Robert de Gorham (1151-1166). In the 1890s, Lord Grimthorpe, the architect responsible for rebuilding the west front, roof, and transept windows of St Alban's Cathedral, replaced the capitals from the slype doorway in the south doorway of the south transept.

Historical context note

In the last decade of the 19th century and in the first decade of the 20th century, enthusiasm towards acquiring new plaster casts and electrotypes for the V&A waned. A Report of the Committee of Re-Arrangement, produced by the Board of Education in July 1908, had a section entitled 'The Question of Casts'. In this report, proposals to expand the cast collection to include examples of the development of British architecture were rejected. However, a large donation of casts from sculpture and architecture in British churches and cathedrals was received from the Royal Architectural Museum of the Architectural Association in 1916. This museum had been founded in 1851 by a group of architectural professionals lead by George Gilbert Scott, and by the 1870s included over 4500 casts from English church portals, tombs, and windows. Many of these casts were assembled by John Ruskin (1819-1900) and William Burges (1827-1881), respectively. In the early 20th century, the pedagogical focus of the teachers at the Association changed from Gothic to classicising, and the Royal Architectural collections were deemed to be no longer of use for students. The premises of the Royal Architectural Association Museum were sold in 1917, and the casts were donated to the V&A.

Descriptive line

Capital carved with interlacing foliage and conventional flowers from St Alban's Cathedral, Hertfordshire. 19th century plast cast after 12th century English original.

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

Thurlby, Malcolm. 'The Place of St Albans in Regional Sculpture and Architecture in the Second Half of the Twelfth Century.' The Hertfordshire School of Romanesque Sculpture. Henig, Martin and Lindley, Philip (eds). Leeds: British Archeological Association, 2001.
'AA School of Architecture - History.' AA School Homepage. Web. 21 Jan. 2011. .
Bilbey, Diane and Trusted, Marjorie. ' "The Question of Casts" - Collecting amd Later Reassessment of the Cast Collections at South Kensington'. In Frederiksen, Ruth and Marchand, Eckhart (eds). Plaster Casts: Making, Collecting and Displaying from Classical Antiquity to the Present. (Berlin, 2010).

Production Note

19th century plaster cast after 12th century romanesque original





Subjects depicted

Flowers; Foliage


Architecture; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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