Gibbons, Orlando (biog)

Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) was a successful composer and organist to Charles I. When in 1625 Charles I married the 15 year old Henrietta Maria of France, the service was performed at Notre Dame in Paris by proxy, but Charles met his new bride in Canterbury and their marriage received a blessing from Dean Boys in a service in the cathedral. Orlando was staying in the cathedral precincts to superintend music for the event, but died suddenly on Whit Sunday that year. Cause of death was reported to be apoplexy – Orlando was only 41. Doctors present at his death were ordered to examine his body and open his skull to confirm that this was not a case of plague.

What to see:

  • a marble bust of which there is a copy in Westminster Abbey – located on the north wall of the nave, close to the organ case (the latter a gift from Lord Astor in 1980)
  • above the bust appear Orlando’s coat of arms
  • below a lengthy inscription in Latin which reassures us that Orlando has been ‘transcribed to the celestial choir’

Sources;  see standard sources