Academic Reading Sample 207

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 30-40, which are based on Passage 3 below.

900 YEARS: THE RESTORATIONS OF WESTMINSTER ABBEY

A. The exhibition in the summer of 1995 illustrated how Westminster Abbey has been transformed over the past nine centuries. Both its structure and its contents have been changed and changed about but the identity of the building has never been lost. This process of change deserves chronicling as a subject in its own right, not as an apologetic footnote explaining why certain original features have been modified. For those of the Gothic Revival, such as William Morris, even by the 1890s the exterior of the Abbey had been ‘damaged so vitally… that we have nothing left us but a mere outline, a ghost’. The ‘ghost’ has proved remarkably robust, the latest century of its history encompassing both aerial attack and painstaking restoration. This is a story worth telling.

B. Restoration, according to the meaning we give it today as a self-conscious process of repair and reinstatement of earlier features, only came to the Abbey at the end of the seventeenth century, with the campaign of comprehensive repair devised and carried out by Christopher Wren and his successors. This programme of work, covering the entire building both inside and out and setting out deliberately to respect the style of the original structure, was exceptional for its date, not only in England but anywhere in Europe.

C. Restoration can also be used in a wider sense to cover a process of renovation whereby the original fabric is replaced to a different design and in a different style, but respecting the meaning and ethos of the building. A famous example was the replacement by Bramante of the Early Christian basilica of St Peter’s in Rome with his Renaissance design, not regarded then as an act of vandalism, but as a restatement of the significance of the building for a new age. The continuing vitality of an institution can be said to be expressed better by refashioning its buildings in a fresh style, rather than by patching up the old. It is in this way that the replacement of Edward the Confessor’s Romanesque abbey church (Nth century) by Henry III (13th century) in the up-to-date Gothic style can be considered as a work of restoration, not as a new building.

D. The meaning of restoration at Westminster can be vividly illustrated by an unexpected example: the history of the effigy of Queen Elizabeth I. This figure was dismissed for years as a second-rate eighteenth-century copy of the original. Indeed, the exterior of the Abbey has been regarded in a similar way. However, in the effigy as in the building, not only is the eighteenth-century interpretation of the earlier period important in its own right, but the early fabric turns out to remain at the heart The effigy acquired a new head and new clothes in 1760, not through insensitive vandalism, but to show off Elizabeth’s central role in the Abbey’s history more effectively, just as Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor had refaced the fabric of the building a few decades before. To try to strip away the contribution of later generations in order to reveal some mythical prime original Is a profound misunderstanding of Westminster’s rich complexity.

E. The relationship between the historical overview depicted in the exhibition and the restoration work in progress seen in the adjacent Mason’s Yard was vital to the exhibition. The two parts gave meaning to each other, the historical context gave validity to the current works, showing how this process of organic renewal has been present at the Abbey from the start while the display of work in progress brought vividly to life the physical reality of the works exhibited.

QUESTIONS 30-33
Choose one phrase (i-x) from the List of phrases to complete each key point below. Write the
appropriate letters (i-x) in Boxes 30-33 on your answer sheet.
The information in the completed sentences should be an accurate summary of the points made by the writer.
NB. There are more phrases (i-x) than sentences, so you will not need to use them all. You may use each phrase once only.

  1. The effigy of Queen Elizabeth I was …
  2. The Renaissance design for St Peter’s was …
  3. A comprehensive assessment of the past was …
  4. A narrow, modern meaning of restoration states that it is …
List of Phrases
i regarded as an act of vandalism.
ii completely restored in 1760.
iii retaining the original design.
iv at the time considered appropriate.
V a method of repairing and reintroducing characteristics from earlier times.
vi a poor replica of the original.
vii as important as the work exhibits in the Mason’s yard.
viii the validity of the current works.
ix respecting the original structure and ethos of a building.
X for a long time considered a poor replica of the original.

QUESTIONS 34-36
Choose the appropriate letter A-D and write them in Boxes 34-36 on your answer sheet.

  1. At the end of the seventeenth century the Abbey was …
    A thoroughly repaired.
    B conscientiously repaired.
    C designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
    D unusual for buildings of the time.
  2. Which of the following has the Abbey retained through centuries of change?
    A structure and contents.
    B original features.
    C identity.
    D outline.
  1. The writer believes that it is better …
    A to remove the work of later generations to expose the original features of a building.
    B not to remove the work of later generations to expose the original features of a building.
    C to reveal the mythical original architecture of a building.
    D to enhance the rich complexity of a building.

QUESTIONS 37-40
Reading Passage 3 has 5 paragraphs (A-E). Choose the most suitable heading for each paragraph from the List of Headings below. Write the appropriate numbers (i-xi) in Boxes 37-40 on your answer sheet.

One of the headings has been done for you as an example.
NB. There are more headings than paragraphs, so you will not use all of them.

Paragraph A

Paragraph B

Paragraph C

Paragraph D
Example: Paragraph E
Answer: vii

List of Headings
i Bramante’s artistic and architectural skills
ii A royal example
iii Restoration in Europe
iv The importance of recording change
V An extensive and unusual scheme,
vi Keeping the meaning
vii History alongside progress
viii Hawksmoor’s effect on the Abbey
ix Wren and Hawksmoor at the Abbey
X A summer exhibition
xi An organic renewal

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