An illustrated history of St Stephen's Chapel in the Palace of Westminster, a building at the heart of British life for over 700 years.
Begun in 1292, the royal Chapel of St Stephen was the crowning glory of the old Palace of Westminster, a place of worship for kings and their courts and a showcase of the finest architecture, ritual and music the Plantagenets could muster. But in 1548, as the Protestant Reformation reached its height, St Stephen's was cleared of its altar and given a new purpose as the House of Commons: the first time in history that the elected members of Parliament had a home of their own, one that became a potent force in shaping politics for the next three hundred years. Burned out in the great Palace fire of 1834, the Commons chamber was then recreated on a remarkably similar medieval design, perpetuating a way of doing politics that is recognisable to this day.
Based on extensive archival research and using digital reconstruction to recover the glories of the lost chapel, John Cooper traces the evolution of one of the most celebrated royal buildings in medieval England as it became the most iconic political chamber in the world. St Stephen's has been part of many lives over the centuries, from the medieval masons who worked through the Black Death to complete the chapel and the musicians who sang its Latin services, to the generations of MPs who locked horns in the Commons chamber and the women who demanded admittance to it. Threading together religion, politics, art, architecture and narrative history, St Stephen's tells a story of national transition from medieval divine-right monarchy to modern parliamentary democracy.
'A superb new account ... Brilliantly recreates Elizabethan England in all its cloak-and-dagger intrigue and glory' Sunday Telegraph.
Fascinating ... John Cooper neither vilifies nor lionises his subject, preferring to set his actions in context' Literary Review.
'Walsingham emerges as a severe, complex and haunted character in this compelling biography' Sunday Telegraph.
'A book for the library of any Tudor enthusiast' Philippa Gregory.
'As thrilling and suspenseful as any modern spy novel' Publishers Weekly