By Adam John Fraser, PEF Librarian
When I started working at the PEF I hoped to make a short video series about its history. I had only just begun to learn about its amazing legacy and I wanted to share that with others.
While the PEF held its first public meeting on June 22, 1865 (as noted in an earlier post), the Fund’s first official committee meeting took place in a different location: the Jerusalem Chamber in Westminster Abbey on May 12, 1865.
One of the men responsible for the founding of the PEF was the Dean of Westminster, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley. It was his position at the Abbey that enabled the Fund’s preliminary meeting to be held in this iconic building in a room named after the Holy City itself.
Dating from the medieval period, the Jerusalem chamber was originally one of several rooms named after sites in Palestine. During Stanley’s time cedar panelling from Lebanon was added. The room also contains several large tapestries dating from the 16th-17th centuries depicting biblical scenes, including the Circumcision of Isaac, Rebekah at the well, Sarah (the wife of Abraham) returning from Egypt and Peter at the Beautiful Gate healing the lame man.
Many important meetings and events have taken place in the Jerusalem Chamber. In 1611, it hosted committees who assembled the Authorized Version of the Bible (as well as the subsequent revision and authorization meetings). The room is probably most renowned as the site of the death of Henry IV as he prepared to go to the Holy Land. The room contains busts of both Henry IV and Henry V.
In 2013, the current Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, was kind enough to allow the PEF to access the chamber to film a series of interviews to coincide with the 150th anniversary of its founding meeting.
Now that the PEF is in the middle of its celebrations we are going to be releasing the videos of these interviews. Each video will focus on a different aspect of the founding of the PEF and the people who were involved in its establishment. An entry on this blog will supplement the videos and expand on parts of the interviews.
We hope you will enjoy these labours of love!
“History of Jerusalem Chamber” on the Westminster Abbey website.
The PEF would like to thank the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, for allowing us access to the Jerusalem Chamber.