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Westminster Abbey, London

Westminster Abbey (formally known as the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster) is a huge Anglican abbey and the most notable religious buildings in England. The abbey is located west of the Palace of Westminster in London’s City of Westminster. It is the most notable religious buildings in England and has the status of Church of England ‘Royal Peculiar’ making it subject to the Sovereign and not to any bishop or archbishop.

All coronations of every English and British monarch have been at Westminster Abbey since the coronation of the Norman king William the Conqueror in 1066. There have been at least 16 royal weddings at the abbey since 1100 although before 1919 there was none for five centuries. Westminster Abbey has also been the site of many royal burials between the reigns of King Henry III (reigned from 1216 to 1272) and King George II (reigned from 1727 to 1760).

 Westminster Abbey by Paasikivi

About

The earliest origin of the abbey dates back to the 10th century and was home to a community of Benedictine monks. Construction of the present abbey began in 1245 by King Henry III who selected the site for his burial. The building is Gothic in design, an architectural style that flourished during the Middle Ages. Construction continued until 1517 but the abbey's two western towers are later additions built between 1722 and 1745 in the Gothic Revival design.

See & Do

Enter Westminster Abbey via the north transept (transverse part of the building) where you will see numerous monuments dedicated to notable public figures. The interior architecture of the abbey is amazing and a must see! It is elaborately carved, ornate and the ceiling is magnificently picturesque. From the north transept, you can catch sight of the central sanctuary and the coronation site with its Coronation Chair that dates back to the 14th century. The Cosmati floor is from marble and built by Italian artisans in the 13th century - a carpet often covers the marble floor to protect it.

Interior of Westminster Abbey by Herry Lawford

The Lady Chapel is splendid in its architecture and built on the orders of King Henry VII in 1503 as his final resting place. The chapel features an intricately carved vault and gilded pendants designed in the English Perpendicular style. The Poets Corner has been the final resting place for notable artists since the 18th century. The entrance at the south choir aisle directs visitors to the Great Cloister and you can see the nave from here. The Chapter House was where the House of Commons met from the middle of the 13th century. Other notable sections of the abbey include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Abbey Museum.

The Cloister at Westminster Abbey by Herry Lawford

There are three original gardens within the compounds of Westminster Abbey. The Garth is one of the original gardens, featuring a square turf and probably used by the monks who once lived here to contemplate in spirituality as they walked around the garden. The College Garden has been in cultivation for 900 years and features planted herbs used for foods and medicinal purposes. The Little Cloister Garden features a fountain and bordered with scented plants. The St Catherine's Garden is more recent and created within the ruins of the old chapel.

Visiting Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is a working church and welcomes visitors including non-worshippers. The abbey opens to visitors throughout the year on Monday-Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. but on Wednesdays open until 6:00 p.m. There is an admission fee for visitors (free to worshippers) and the admission ticket includes an audio guide in several languages. As a working church, the abbey closes to visitors except worshippers on Sundays, religious holidays (such as Easter and Christmas) and sometimes at short notice. Therefore, check with the official Westminster Abbey website before coming.

The nearest London Underground station is Westminster Station serving the Jubilee, District and Circle Lines. Another Underground station is St James's Park Station serving the District and Circle Lines. London Victoria and London Waterloo railway stations are about 1.3 km (0.8 miles) from Westminster Abbey. London red buses on routes number 11, 24, 88, 148 and 211 stop on the south side of Parliament Square.

Westminster Abbey on the Map

20 Deans Yard, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, UK

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