Westminster Abbey should definitely be high on every visitor's must see list. I think is one of the two places in London where you get the greatest sense of the country's history (the Tower of London is the other). Here all British monarchs from 1066 onwards, with the exceptions only of Edward V and Edward VIII, have been crowned, many of them married and, until George II, buried. Its wealth of historic sights include the Coronation Chair, the Shrine of Edward the Confessor, the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, various Royal Tombs and the Royal Chapels.
So many of Britain's great men and women are buried here: Chaucer, Spenser, Kipling, Dickens & Tennyson with other writers in Poets' Corner; Handel, Vaughan Williams & Purcell; Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton & Robert Stephenson; Dame Peggy Ashcroft & Sir Henry Irving ...
Others are buried elsewhere but commemorated here: the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Winston Churchill ...
The abbey is mainly Gothic in style, and its proper name is actually the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster - but no one ever calls it that, and very few Londoners would even recognise the name! There has been a church on this site since 616AD but the present building was started in 1045 and much added too over the following centuries, being more or less finished in the 15th.
The Abbey is open to visitors on weekdays and Saturdays, but on Sunday only for those atending a service. Times vary a lot, so check the website below before you go - also if you'd like to attend a service. There is an entry charge of £18 (adults), £15 (students and 60+) and £8.00 (children 12-18 - under 12s go free).
Update March 2013: prices updated and new photo added
One of the things we wanted to do while in London was visit Westminster Abbey, It is certainly worth visiting but we were disappointed and annoyed that after paying the £16 entrance fee and looking around for an hour we were told to leave as it was closing due to the Queen coming later, There was no notice outside to say so and we were not told when paying our Entrance fees, we had looked all around the church and cloisters but not the museum or shop which was most annoying,
Central Hall is not likely going to be on your list of “must see” attractions in London, but it is very close to Westminster Abbey and Parliament, and thus is likely to capture your attention, even if it is only for a moment. The Hall, which once served as the headquarters of the Methodist Church in England, was constructed in the first decade of the 20th century in a complex that was, initially, an entertainment centre. In 1946, the Hall served as the site of the first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, and was subsequently used as a meeting place for inquiries, political rallies and artistic events. The building itself is said to be in Edwardian style with Baroque elements, although the extravagance of typically Baroque buildings (think St. Paul’s Cathedral in the city) is certainly not present here – perhaps a nod to the traditionally austere Methodists. The dome is purported to be the second largest of its type in the world.
St. Margaret’s Church is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site complex that includes Westminster Abbey and the Palace, although it does not benefit from the same sort of global recognition bestowed upon the Westminster brand. The Church is much simpler and more austere than its neighbor, and this is in fact why it was built. It was first constructed in the 13th century by Benedictine monks who wanted to have a parish church for Westminster that would be more in line with the expectations of the ordinary people who lived in the area, and so they built St. Margaret’s. It was rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries, again in an austere style, and was taken over by Puritans who wished to hold plain and unembellished services that allowed their followers in the parish to eschew what they considered to be decadent services in the nearby Abbey. The Church, which does not carry the same reputation as its neighbor, was the site of weddings for the aristocracy and of the burials of some of the country’s lesser leaders. It was also the site of a mass grave that became the final resting place of the remains of Parliamentarians, revolutionaries who opposed the monarchy in the 17th century and were initially buried inside the Abbey.
Although Westminster Abbey is technically part of the UNESCO World Heritage site that include the Palace of Westminster, i.e. Parliament, it is a monument in its own right. The first religious structure built here was erected over the course of the Norman Conquest in Romanesque style. This structure is not extent today, and was replaced in the middle of the 13th century by one ordered by Henry III, which was constructed in the Gothic style popular at that time. The Church was completed over the 13th and 14th centuries, and remained within the control of the Catholic Church and the Benedictines held sway. They were expelled during the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century, and allowed back into the Abbey for a brief period during the latter half of the 16th century, expelled later in the same century. Major additions to the Abbey were only made in the 18th century, when Gothic style was once again popular as part of a revival, helping to ensure the stylistic cohesion of the complex. Westminster Abbey is the traditional site of coronations for English and British monarchs, and part of this tradition holds that King Edward’s Chair, in which the Stone of Scone is kept, be used as the seat of the new King or Queen. The Stone was stolen briefly by Scottish nationalists in the 1950s, and in order to not inflame tensions it is now held in Scotland, although it is to be returned to the Abbey the next time a coronation occurs. The Abbey is also the site of royal weddings and funerals, as well as those of Prime Ministers and prominent Britons. In addition to the small Westminster Abbey museum, visitors are permitted to enter and view the Abbey itself (for a few, of course).
The Jewel Tower was constructed in the 14th century in order for Edward III to store his treasures and is now an English Heritage property, and is only one of two buildings at Westminster Palace to survive the fire of 1834. The tower features the original ribbed vault, and there is an interesting display regarding the history of Parliament. On the second floor you can learn about the history of the Tower and is well worth a visit, although it is slightly hidden from the main tourist attractions nearby.
It is open Nov - March from 10 am - 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays only.
They have not yet announced the times for next summer season.
price adults $3.50 children £2.10
Westminster Abbey is probably the most famous church in London and was briefly a cathedral in the 16th century. The abbey has been on that site since 624 A.D. but the present church was not started until 1245 under Henry III. In the present day Royal Weddings are held there. This is simply a must see.
Opening times mon-fri 9.30-15.30, Sat 9.30-13.30
I took my children for a day in London, which is not nearly enough, but that was all the time we had . After visiting Trafalgar Square we walked down to Westminster Abbey. There was no time to go inside, but we were able to enjoy the workmanship involved in building this magnificent building.
The Westminster Abbey has seen many Royal Weddings and Funerals through the years, in 2011 it was the venue for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It is great to see this wedding on television at home and realizing that I used to walk on that exact same spot. But I guess that works the same for every destination you have been to.
But anyway Westminster Abbey is steeped in more than a thousand years of history. Benedictine monks first came to this site in the middle of the tenth century, establishing a tradition of daily worship which continues to this day. The Abbey has been the coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of seventeen monarchs. It also houses a library with a collections of archives, printed books and manuscripts. More than enough to tell about a magical place I visited way back in 1989. By than a teenager who wanted to have a good time in a metropolitan and right now writing this tip down on Virtualtourist being a 40 year young guy with a great trip back into memory lane! Enjoy.
Funny thing about writing this tip in 2012 is that is just takes me back to 1989, how about that! I remember that Westminster Abbey is just a short walk from the Thames. It is definitely a must-see and I do remember it significant structure. This beautiful gothic church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is very popular with many visitors to London and so we also had to visit the amazing building.
We were not able to go inside, not that we didn’t want to, but we were simply lacking the time. Visiting Westminster Abbey was just one of the highlights we visited in quite a rush. But what we did learn was that there are truly some well known people buried at the Abbey, for example Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer, Dr. Samuel Johnson and Charles Darwin. Besides that many Kings and Queens have been crowned on King Edward’s Chair, including the current reigning Queen Elizabeth II.
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