Robert Stephenson - Westminster Abbey, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 29.985 W 000° 07.636
30U E 699386 N 5709314
Quick Description: Westminster Abbey is adorned with stained glass windows with many of them being memorials to the good and great. One such window, in the North Choir Aisle, is a memorial to Robert Stephenson. His grave is close by, set in the Nave's floor.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 10/28/2020 1:54:18 AM
Waymark Code: WM13AR6
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 0

Long Description:

The window has a series of twelve medallions that reflect the work and achievements of Robert Stephenson. At the base of the window, to the right, is a picture of his steam engine "Rocket" and to the left is the wording:

Robert Stephenson MP, DCL, FRS 1803-1859
President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
son of George Stephenson
1781-1848 Father of Railways

The Westminster Abbey website has an article about Robert Stephenson that advises:

Robert Stephenson, called the greatest engineer of the nineteenth century, was buried beside Thomas Telford in the centre part of the nave of Westminster Abbey. He was born on 16th October 1803 near Newcastle upon Tyne, the only son of George Stephenson, railway engineer, and his wife Frances (Henderson). He studied in Newcastle and Edinburgh and then became manager of the firm of Robert Stephenson & Co, founded for him by his father, and later spent some time in Columbia on mining projects. On 17th June 1829 he married Frances Sanderson but they had no children. His steam engine Rocket was entered for the Rainhill Trials in 1829 and won the prize. He is remembered also for his civil engineering work especially railway bridges. In 1847 he became Member of Parliament for Whitby and was later elected a Fellow of the Royal Society but he declined a knighthood. He died on 12th October 1859.

Memorial window

A stained glass window was erected near the grave in 1862, designed by William Wailes (1809-81) but amended by Sir Gilbert Scott. This was moved in 1934 to the north choir aisle. The order of the medallions was changed at this time and plain glass substituted for the original coloured background. At the top are portrait heads of his father George, Thomas Telford, John Smeaton, Robert himself, James Watt and John Rennie. Depictions of Robert’s bridges are shown together with small medallions of builders through history in the main lights. Left light from top: Bonha bridge over the Nile, Tubal Cain, building the Ark, Noah, erection of the Tabernacle, Hiram, building of Solomon's temple, Bezaleel, building of the second Temple, Wykeham, and Britannia railway bridge over the Menai Straits. In the eastern (right hand light) are shown: Victoria bridge over the St Lawrence river, Cheops, building of Nineveh, Euclid, treasure cities of Egypt, Archimedes, building a Roman aqueduct, Michelangelo, the Colosseum, Sir Christopher Wren, and Newcastle on Tyne bridge.

In 1948 a representation of the Rocket locomotive was added at the base of the window and the inscription was altered to include his father’s name.


With the re-opening of Westminster Abbey after Covid-19 lockdown photography, for private use, has been allowed in most areas of the Abbey when services are not taking place (see here). There is an entry fee payable to enter the Abbey that is currently £18 for an adult (October, 2020).

Website with more information on either the memorial or the person(s) it is dedicated to: [Web Link]

Location: Westminster Abbey

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