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chief may accrue from transforming a church into an exhibition-room, will be increased, not lessened, by making it an exhibition for money.
Although the efforts of the Society for obtaining free admission to National Monuments, ably seconded as they have been by her Majesty's government, have already produced much good, they have hitherto in several important cases failed of effecting the desired object.
The dean and chapter of Westminster, in reply to a Westmincommunication from Lord John Russell, in which it ster Abbey. was stated that her Majesty was
Majesty was “ desirous that the Abbey Church of Westminster should be open to the public at certain appointed times, without the payment of any fee or gratuity,” expressed their conviction “that evils, far greater than any supposed good to the public, would be the result of their compliance;" and they proceeded to state, that“ till about ten years since, a part of the abbey was open to the public, and had become a thoroughfare, when the ill effects of this liberty, namely, indecorous behaviour and constant noise, the filthy state of the church (especially in bad weather), the occasional injury done to the monuments, and the disturbance of the daily prayers, made it the duty of the dean and chapter to put a stop to the mischief, whatever might be the obloquy attending it."*
In answering this communication Lord John Russell justly observed, that “these evils might nearly, if not altogether, be obviated, without a continuance of the entire prohibition which you state to have been adopted only ten years ago. It does not follow that because persons are admitted gratuitously to view the monuments, they would feel less respect for the Abbey as a
* Commons' papers, 1837-8, No. 119, p. 9.
place of worship, than those who obtain admission upon the payment of money. Indeed, it might be contended, that the payment of a shilling, or half-a-crown, for liberty to enter a church or cathedral, tends more to confound it with a common exhibition room,' than the free permission to enter, with the single condition, that no indecorous behavour should be tolerated.” After suggesting certain measures tending to ensure the preservation of order, his lordship thus concludes: “I do not wish to enter into the question of right; the dean and chapter are doubtless the legal guardians of the property, but it is not proposed to surrender that property to the public use ;' neither do I accuse the dean and chapter of any interested view; but they cannot expect that Westminster Abbey, which has been in great part raised and adorned by the magnificence of former sovereigns, and which contains the monuments of so many illustrious men, can be kept closed by a rule only a few years old, without exciting the attention of her Majesty's advisers and of the public."
Nothing, however, has yet been effected as respects the admission of the public to Westminster Abbey. Those at whose expense the national monuments were erected are still compelled to pay for the privilege of seeing them.*
With reference to St. Paul's Cathedral, a better result has been attained. The public are admitted, free of all expense, for three hours † on every day, except Sunday.
* From the year 1750 to 1839, seven monuments have been erected at the public expense in Westminster Abbey, and thirty-three in St. Paul's— together forty; the aggregate cost has been £132,175. Of these forty public monuments, thirty-seven have been erected in honour of naval and military men, and the remaining three to the memories of Lord Chatham, of William Pitt, and of Spencer Perceval.
+ From nine till eleven, and from three till four; the hours might doubtless have been better chosen, but this is still a step in the right direction.
Arrangements nearly similar have also been made at the Cathedrals Cathedrals of Norwich and Wells.
and Wells. With the same generous feeling that induced her Majesty to order that Kew Gardens shall be open to the public Kew Gar
dens. on Thursdays as well as Sundays, throughout the summer, the Queen has commanded that Hampton Court Hampton Palace shall be open without charge or restriction on
Court Paevery week day except Saturday, and also on Sundays after two o'clock; and its collections are to be increased by pictures from other palaces.
The reduction of the fee at the Armouries of the Tower ArTower of London,* from three shillings to one, has increased the enjoyment of thousands; but there is reason to believe that the arrangements, whereby visitors are sometimes detained half an hour in the waiting room, and their progress subsequently unduly hurried through that collection of historical illustrations, deprive it of much of its utility. These impediments will, I hope, be removed.
The efforts of the Society have also been attended with many good results, in some of the provincial cities and towns, by inducing many societies to appoint Provincial
Museums. certain times for the free admission of the public to their
This has been especially the case at Newcastle, at Manchester, and at Lancaster. At the first-named place the practice has long obtained, with respect to the Museum of the Philosophical and Antiquarian Societies of that town; and the secretary writes, that “the Societies have uniformly seen reason to rejoice in the privilege thus extended to the working classes ; and in new institutions here, the benefit to be derived from their admission to repositories of art, as well as of natural curiosities, is steadily held in view."
Effected in May 1838. Since that period the average number of visitors, per week, has risen from 250 to nearly 1000.
If on the whole, less has been accomplished than the more sanguine friends of the cause may have hoped for, there is still ample encouragement to prosecute the task with renewed vigour and perseverance, confident that, sooner or later, success is certain.