Skip to main content
See & Do


Monuments in Conversation: Westminster Abbey in the Eighteenth Century

Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

This event has passed

Interior of a church showing numerous stone-carved figurative monuments, plaques, and relief sculpture.

Exploring the intersections between monuments in the vast commemorative pantheon of Westminster Abbey.

This conference brings together experts in the fields of eighteenth-century studies, sculptural studies, and the history of Westminster Abbey. Conversations between the monuments and panellists will yield insights into themes of artistry and craftsmanship, race and empire, faith and ecclesiology and question what these complex and multifaceted displays of British sculptural identities mean in an increasingly contentious twenty-first-century context.

Monuments in Conversation is a collaboration between the University of York Department of History of Art and the Henry Moore Institute, with support from the University of York Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies.


Tickets to this event are free, and can be booked online via Eventbrite.


Book your ticket


Welcome and Introduction


Dr Clare O’Dowd, Henry Moore Institute
Gemma Shearwood, University of York

Panel 1: Identities and Identification

Chaired by Ruth Spindlow, University of York

‘“Even their ashes”: The Monument to Mary Kendall and Lady Catherine Jones (c.1710), and Female Presence, Agency, and Romantic Friendship in Eighteenth-Century Westminster Abbey’
Dr Sarah Monks, independent

‘Caught Between Monumental Traditions: Grinling Gibbons’ Shovell Monument’
Dr Charlotte Davis, University of York

‘Redefining an Abolitionist: Conversations between the Caribbean, South Asia, and North America in the Earl Mansfield, Vice-Admiral Watson, and Earl Halifax Monuments c. 1760-1801′
Gemma Shearwood, University of York

Panel 2: Curation and Conservation

Chaired by Dr Sarah Burnage, Fairfax House

‘Putting Poets in their Place: Thomas Sprat at Westminster Abbey, 1667-1713’
Professor Claudine van Hensbergen, University of Northumbria

‘Death Strokes: Thinking about the conservation of monuments through Roubiliac’s Nightingale Monument and how we might approach this’
Izabella Gill-Brown, University of York

‘Sir Francis Chantrey’s “delicate and honourable conduct in all matters relating to the Abbey” 1814-1841’
Dr Greg Sullivan, University of York


Included with your ticket

Opportunity to view library display, featuring archival material relating to the monuments of Westminster Abbey

Panel 3: Reception and Reform

Chaired by Gemma Shearwood

‘A Sphere of Influence: The Monument to Isaac Newton by William Kent and Michael Rysbrack (1730)’
Dr Marjorie Coughlan, University of York

‘Sculpting the Eye: Experiencing Reproductions of Westminster Abbey’s Monuments: Or… The Many Ceramic Lives of William Shakespeare’
Sammi Lukic Scott, University of York

‘From Memorial to museum piece? Flaxman’s monument to George Lindsay Johnstone’
Michael Smith, University of York

Roundtable plenary

Chaired by Professor Jason Edwards, University of York



Library display

This conference ties in with our library display, Monuments in Conversation: Westminster Abbey’s Monuments in the Henry Moore Institute Library.

The display highlights selected monuments from Westminster Abbey’s sculptural canon using items in the Henry Moore Institute library. Through these paper traces, a collective narrative across the monumental pantheon emerges, revealing sculptural intersections that transcend periods, locations, materials, and sculptors.

Collections in Conversation: Westminster Abbey's Monuments in the Henry Moore Institute Library

Library display

Collections in Conversation: Westminster Abbey's Monuments in the Henry Moore Institute Library

Sculpture Research Library
Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

Getting here

Henry Moore Institute

74 The Headrow
United Kingdom

T:  01132 467 467