The story of Westminster Abbey's weathervanes

The gilded bronze weathervanes were a gift from RICS in 1981 and were placed on Henry VII's Lady Chapel. Explore the original designs from the archives in detail


  • Modus staff

03 May 2023

Photo of Westminster Abbey weathervanes

On Saturday 6 May, the coronation of King Charles III will take place at Westminster Abbey. Crowds of well-wishers are expected to start lining the processional route through central London many days beforehand to catch sight of this extraordinary spectacle and broadcasters anticipate a global audience of hundreds of millions.

And if the crowds or TV cameras look towards the roof of Westminster Abbey, they may spot RICS’ part in the history of that famous royal peculiar.

In 1981, to commemorate the Institution’s centenary of being granted its Royal Charter, RICS donated the 16 gilded bronze weathervanes that adorn Henry VII's Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey. These weathervanes feature Tudor emblems, including a portcullis, falcon, and greyhound, which were replicated from the interior of the chapel. 


The weathervanes were designed by architect John Peter Foster, who served as Westminster Abbey's Surveyor of the Fabric from 1973 to 1988.

During his tenure, Foster oversaw the extensive restoration of the Abbey's exterior, as well as the cleaning and repairs at St Margaret's Westminster. In addition to the weathervanes, he designed various other elements of the Abbey, including the memorial stone for poet WH Auden, a new grille around Elizabeth I's tomb, and the case for the Queen’s Westminsters roll of honour. 


Foster's contributions to Westminster Abbey's history are truly noteworthy, and RICS' donation of the weathervanes serves as a lasting reminder of its association with the Abbey.

With special thanks to RICS Library’s Knowledge and Information Services for tracking down the original designs in the archives. 

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