Westminster Abbey:
The symbol of the British Empire
Attractions | 08.04.2020
Westminster Abbey is the UK's most famous church and one of themost popular attractions in London.This is a symbol of the British Empire, because for almost 10 centuries the coronations of all English monarchs have been held and outstanding personalities have been buried here. The official name of this attraction is Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster.
About the abbey
The first mention of the place dates back to 960 A.D. Then the monks built the first building on the small island of Thorny on the Thames. The island no longer exists, although the name Thorney Street in Westminster arose from it. Now the MI5 Security Service building faces this street. In 1040, by order of King Edward the Confessor, work began on the restructuring and expansion of the church in honor of the Apostle Peter. Edward the Confessor did not witness the end of the work, but became the first royal person to be buried in Westminster Abbey in 1065. Since then, 30 kings and queens have found the last refuge in the walls of the Abbey.

And a year later, in 1066, on Christmas Day, the first monarch William I the Conqueror was crowned here. The Gothic church that tourists see today was founded by Henry III in 1245. In one form or another, construction lasted until 1745.
Since the 16thcentury, not only monarchs were buried in Westminster Abbey, but also prominent people. The first poet buried there was Jeffrey Chaucer in 1400. Now more than 100 prominent poets and writers are buried or have memorials in the Poets 'Corner, including William Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens. There are more than 3,300 tombs in addition to the royal ones and 600 commemorative tablets. Among them there is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in honor of the fallen in the First World War. The heads of states arriving on a visit to the country are sure to lay flowers here. One feature: this grave is the only one that cannot be stepped on.
You can easily spend half a day on sightseeing: there are dozens of objects. Among the most important are: The Chapel of Edward the Confessor or the Royal Chapels with a 700-year-old wooden throne, on which the monarchs sit at the time of the coronation, the Chapel Hall with thin marble columns and the Chapel of Henry VII, which is usually called the Virgin's Chapel, with a light radial ceiling.

To enter into the spirit and grandeur of the place, visitors are offered free multimedia guides in 13 languages (including Russian) and the Westminster Abbey Tour mobile application (for iOS or Android). Please note that taking photos and video are prohibited inside the abbey.

Westminster Abbey is available to visitors as a historical landmark and religious building. Here services are held in English every day, choral and organ music is played (the schedule is on the official website).

Souvenirs are sold in two The Main Shop stores and the Cellarium Shop – next to the Cellarium Cafe and Terrace, and in the online store on the official website.
Address: The Chapter Office, Westminster Abbey, 20 Dean's Yard, London SW1P 3PA. You can easily get there by public transport: to metro station Westminster (lines Jubilee, District and Circle) and metro station St James 'Park (lines District and Circle). The attraction is at a distance of 1.20 km from the London Victoria and London Waterloo train stations, there are also buses passing by (specify the route on Transport for London).

The cost of a ticket when buying through the official website will be 22₤, through the ticket office – 24₤. Every Wednesday evening, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., a visit is possible at a reduced price of 11 ₤.
Do you know?
  • Since 1560, the abbey, by order of Elizabeth I, reports directly to the English monarchs, and not to the Church of England.
  • Throughout its history, the abbey has witnessed 39 coronations, the last of which took place on June 2, 1953. Then Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became a Monarch. At the moment, her reign is considered the longest in the English history.
  • There were 17 royal weddings at Westminster Abbey, the last of which was held on April 29, 2011. On this day, Prince William of Wales, now the Duke of Cambridge, and Miss Catherine Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, got married.
  • The Abbey houses the oldest oak door in the UK, created approximately in 1050, and the tree itself grew from 924 to 1030. To establish this, a dendrochronological analysis was required (by the tree rings). The door is installed in the lobby leading to the Chapter House.
  • The surface of the coronation throne is covered with graffiti that were left by schoolchildren and hooligans several centuries ago. Despite the restoration, one of the inscriptions can be read in full: "P. Abbott slept in this chair 5-6 July 1800".
  • Until the mid-14thcentury, the Abbey served as the repository of all the treasures of the state. Taking advantage of the war with the Scots and the absence of King Edward I, the monks began to steal from the treasury. The theft was subsequently detected, the perpetrators were punished, but part of the jewels of the British crown were lost.
  • In front of the main altar of Westminster Abbey, a mosaic of Cosmati Pavement is paved on an area of approximately 7.5 m2. It was made by Italian craftsmen in 1268. It is believed that the date of the End of the World is encrypted in it: in 19683 or after 19683 years from the moment of creation.
  • Until 2010, the foot of a pope did not cross the threshold of Westminster Abbey. Most Holy Father Benedict XVI became the first in a thousand-year history.
  • Westminster Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What to see nearby?
Be sure to find the College Garden, hidden behind high walls and trees so that you will not immediately notice it. It is part of Westminster Abbey, and is considered the oldest garden in England: it has been cultivated for over 900 years. Once the monks cultivated fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs here, fish ponds and beehives were also located here. The gardens are open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, admission is free.

All the main English landmarks are situated near Westminster Abbey – Westminster Palace, Big Ben clock, Buckingham Palace, London Eye Ferris Wheel and St. James's Park.
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