( Above Photo: Westminster Abbey )
Westminster Abbey holds many memories for me. As a school boy it was a place for our Christmas carol service - not a bad venue to hear rousing hymns. Of course we also all remember Princes Diana's funeral that took place here in 1997. Elton John singing 'Candle In The Wind' and then Diana's brother - The Earl of Spencer - and his moving speech. Now it's sadly the venue for Queen Elizabeth's state funeral on Monday September 19th. Back in July 2022 we had a long overdue visit and it was great to be back in this awe inspiring space. I particularly like Poet's Corner.
Westminster Abbey is a magnificent and famous building. It is the most crucial church in England, having served as the coronation site for kings and queens since the 1066 coronation of William the Conqueror.
Besides, it is the final resting place for English kings and queens and the venue of famous weddings. In 1953, Queen Elizabeth II was crowned at the Abbey.
The first building at the site was a Benedictine monastery, which existed for more than one thousand years until 1065, when Edward the Confessor rebuilt the church. From 1220 to 1272, Henry III rebuilt it into the Gothic architectural masterpiece it is today.
(Above photo - The vaulted lofty heights... )
Unofficially, it is called Westminster Abbey. However, officially, it is the Collegiate Church of St. Peter in Westminster. Queen Elizabeth I renamed it in 1560.
Until 1760, the Abbey was called the ‘House of Kings’ and was the burial site for Elizabeth I, Mary I, and 15 other monarchs. Many of these monarchs were buried near Edward the Confessor’s shrine.
Following Edward’s death in 1065, William the Conqueror invaded England, taking over the throne. Edward’s shrine sits behind the High Altar with his bones.
(Above photo - Take a pew... )
Westminster Abbey has many commemorative statues, tablets, and inscriptions of knights, kings, queens, writers, musicians, actors, politicians, and scientists. But not all the famous people were buried inside the Abbey.
Those who were buried here include writers Rudyard Kipling and Charles Dickens and poets Browning, Tennyson, and Chaucer. At the Abbey, you’ll also come across a tomb belonging to the Unknown Soldier, making the number of people buried here over 3,300.
Westminster Abbey attracts millions of visitors annually due to its historical significance. One of the biggest attractions is the Coronation Chair in St. George’s Chapel. You may also visit the tombs of over 30 kings, queens, and other public figures.
(Above photo - Shakespeare, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Byron, Shelley, Blake et al )
The Poets’ Corner is the final resting place of over 100 famous writers and poets, including Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Geoffrey Chaucer, and William Shakespeare.
Inside the Lady Chapel, a vaulted ceiling is bound to leave you in awe. Additionally, The Chapter House has many ancient murals in the East Cloister, while the West Door has statues of 10 modern-day heroic martyrs. End your visit by enjoying the Queen’s Window, a creation by famous artist David Hockney.
Typically, it takes up to three hours to explore Westminster Abbey and indulge in its rich historical heritage. A daily worship service includes Morning Prayer, sung eucharist, holy communion, and evensong.
Throughout the year, the Abbey hosts several special services all year round. You can attend these services if invited or booked a ticket in advance.
Your visit to Westminster Abbey shouldn’t be in vain. Buy a souvenir in the gift shop to help you remember your visit. They stock various items, including books and jewelry, based on the history of the Abbey.
A visit to Westminster Abbey is worth it. You’ll not only indulge in its rich history but also visit the graves of Kings, Queens, Poets, and Writers. Besides, you have the opportunity to purchase gifts and other souvenirs to remember your visit.
All photos © Martin Worster
(Above photo - William Shakespeare at Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey )
(Above photo - Exterior shot Westminster Abbey )
(Above photo - Poet Dryden )
(Above photo - Westminster Abbey, London )
(Above photo - William Blake - The Doors of Perception )
(Above photo - Westminster Abbey - the heart of the nation's history )
(Above photo - Philip Larkin at the Abbey )
(Above photo - Tombs at the Abbey )
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