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Westminster Abbey, London

History

Blessed Sacrament windowAn architectural masterpiece of the 13th to 16th centuries, Westminster Abbey also presents a unique pageant of British history - the shrine of St Edward the Confessor, the tombs of kings and queens, and countless memorials to the famous and the great. It has been the setting for every Coronation since 1066 and for numerous other royal occasions, including sixteen royal weddings. Today it is still a church dedicated to regular worship and to the celebration of great events in the life of the nation.

Neither a cathedral nor a parish church, Westminster Abbey (or the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster to give it its correct title) is a Royal Peculiar under the jurisdiction of a Dean and Chapter, subject only to the Sovereign and not to any archbishop or bishop.

Westminster Abbey, a work of architectural genius, a place of daily worship, deploying the resources of high musical expertise, a burial place of kings, statesmen, poets, scientists, warriors and musicians, is the result of a process of development across the centuries, which represents the response of a monastery and later a post-Reformation church to the stimulus and challenge of its environment.

Read more about the Abbey’s history at:
www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history

 

Architecture

The present church, begun by Henry III in 1245, is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the country, with the medieval shrine of an Anglo-Saxon saint still at its heart.

A treasure house of paintings, stained glass, pavements, textiles and other artefacts, Westminster Abbey is also the place where some of the most significant people in the nation’s history are buried or commemorated. Taken as a whole the tombs and memorials comprise the most significant single collection of monumental sculpture anywhere in the United Kingdom.

Read more about the Abbey’s architecture at:
www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history/the-architecture-of-westminster-abbey

Attractions

Kings, queens, statesmen and soldiers; poets, priests, heroes and villains - the Abbey is a must-see living pageant of British history. Every year Westminster Abbey welcomes over one million visitors who want to explore this wonderful 700-year-old building. Thousands more join us for worship at our daily services. The Abbey is in the heart of London. Once inside audio guides are available in eight languages or there is the highly-popular verger-led tour.

Read more about the Abbey’s attractions at: www.westminster-abbey.org/visit-us

Local Interest

Houses of Parliament
Buckingham Palace
Trafalgar Square
London Aquarium
London Eye
National Gallery
Churchill War Rooms