Westminster Abbey Updated: 7 months ago

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Westminster Abbey is a royal church where coronations have occurred for almost a thousand years. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and a prime example of Gothic architecture.

The Abbey has witnessed some of the most significant historical events in London. Located in the heart of Westminster, the Abbey is magnificent and awe-inspiring, both inside and out.

A Glimpse into Westminster Abbey’s Rich History

Westminster Abbey has a rich and compelling history that dates back over 1,000 years. The Abbey was first founded in the 10th century and has been the official church of the royal family ever since. It has served as the location for coronations, marriages, and even funerals of past monarchs. The building has undergone several significant architectural changes over the years, including the addition of stunning Gothic features. It has become the final resting place of significant figures such as Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, and Elizabeth I.

Architectural Splendour: The Gothic Masterpiece

Once you enter the Abbey, you will be overwhelmed by the beauty and elegance of the building. The Abbey has magnificent architectural details, from the nave to the stunning medieval corona. The Abbey also houses some of the most extraordinary stained glass windows in the country, which provide stunning visual displays when the sunlight floods the interior of the building. The Lady Chapel is a beautiful example of late medieval architecture. There are many more details to see when visiting the Abbey.

Royal Occasions at Westminster Abbey

Coronations

Westminster Abbey has been the coronation church since 1066, and the coronation of William the Conqueror and 40 monarchs have since been crowned there. The latest of these was the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla in May 2023.

An essential part of the tradition is the Coronation Chair, used in coronations since the 14th century.

Weddings

There have also been many royal weddings at the abbey. They were rare until the 20th century, but ten weddings have occurred there since then. The latest of the weddings was Prince Williams marrying Catherine (Kate) Middleton in 2011.

Funerals

There have been many royal funerals in the abbey’s history, too, but the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II was the first one to place in the abbey for over 260 years.

Final Resting Place of Legends

While royal funerals have been somewhat uncommon, Westminster Abbey is the final resting place of many famous people. Scientists Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking are buried in the abbey, as are actors Laurence Olivier and David Garrick. Poets’ Corner is where many famous authors have their final resting place, including Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling and Alfred Tennyson. There are also memorials of many others, such as William Shakespeare and the Bronte sisters.

Visiting Westminster Abbey: Tips for Tourists

In addition to the architecture of Westminster Abbey, there are several other exciting things to see, including the Coronation Chair, Poets’ Corner, memorial for Unknown Warrior and Royal Tombs. The best time to visit is usually in the mornings as there are often fewer visitors.

Tickets are available at the abbey, but booking a ticket online during the high season is recommended. Tickets are available with 30-minute entry slots, and the availability can be seen when booking the tickets. It will also indicate how busy the abbey is going to be.

In addition to the entry tickets, there are guided tours, where you can see special parts of the Abbey that are unavailable for general visitors while learning interesting details from the guide.

The abbey is a functioning church and, as such, holds several services each day, which the visitors can join. Please note that photography is not permitted while the services are ongoing.

The Abbey also has food and drink in the restaurant, and there is a kiosk for snacks, coffee, or a tee. Finally, there is a shop with memorabilia and other products.

Beyond the Abbey: Nearby Attractions

Westminster Abbey’s central location is within walking distance of several other top London attractions, including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and the London Eye. You can easily spend a day sightseeing in the area, taking in everything surrounding Westminster Abbey. And it is well connected to the rest of London, making it the perfect place to start or end your day in the city.

Virtual tours

There is also a virtual tour of Westminster Abbey available showing the abbey from inside and out. To mention a few places, the Coronation Chair, the Lady Chapel and Poets’ Corner are featured.

Getting there

Westminster Abbey is located right next to the Houses of Parliament, and the closest tube station is Westminster (Circle, District, Jubilee) about two minutes away. St James's Park station is another options about five minutes from the abbey. Thames Clipper stops at the Westminster Pier and is also a convenient way to get to Westminster Abbey.

Nearby

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are conveniently located next to the same square. London Eye is on the other side of the Thames, and it takes about ten minutes to cross the bridge to get there.

Nearest Stations

Westminster - 4 min

District Circle Jubilee London Underground Zone: 1

St James's Park - 5 min

District Circle London Underground Zone: 1

Charing Cross - 12 min

Bakerloo Northern London Underground Zone: 1

Activities from Get Your Guide