Westminster Abbey

MAY 09,2013 - MAY 09,2013 (1 DAYS)

United Kingdom

1 DAYS

History

Westminster Abbey:

Words cannot even describe the grandeur, solemnity, beauty, peace, and historic value of this church. It is a must-see for any London visitor. A marvel of history and architecture not to be missed.

Opening times: Summer/Winter.

Weekdays:

Westminster Abbey 9:30 - 15:30,

Chapter House 10:00 - 16:00,

Pyx Chamber 10:00 - 16:00,

Cloister 9:00 - 18:00,

Westminster Abbey Museum 10:30 - 16:00,

Westminster Abbey Shop 9:15 - 18:30/17:00,

St Margaret's Church 9:30 am - 15:30.

Saturday:

Westminster Abbey 9:30 am - 15:30/13.30.

Chapter House 10:00 am - 16:00.

Pyx Chamber 10:00 am - 16:00.

Cloister 9:00 am - 18:00.

Westminster Abbey Museum 10:30  - 16:00.

College Garden: Open only Tuesday - Thursday 10:00 - 16:00.

Westminster Abbey Shop 9:15  - 17:30/16:30.

St Margaret's Church 9:30 am - 13:30.

Sunday:

All close except: Westminster Abbey Shop - 12:00/11:00 - 18:00/17:00, St Margaret's Church - 14:00  - 16:45.

Admission Fees: (free entrance to the Cloisters, Abbey Garden and St. Margaret Church. The Abbey never charges people who wish to worship. Evensong is the most beautiful of services where the Abbey choir sings and FREE. Evensong is at 17:00 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, plus at 15:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. Look for the service schedule either on their website or on the info boards in front of the entrances. The choral is amazing and it is hard for not crying when you listen for the very first time.

Free entry to Westminster Abbey with a London Pass.

Adults: 18 GBP, Concessions: 15 GBP (Over 18 students and 60+), Schoolchildren: (11 - 18 years) 8 GBP. Pay and feel great that you are part of preserving this beautiful piece of history...

ANNUAL PASS: Pay once, visit all through a 12-month period from the date of purchase: Adults:  40 GBP, Concessions 34 GBP.

Photography: allowed ONLY in the Cloisters and the Abbey Gardens. The use of mobile phones is permitted in the Cloisters and College Garden. Keep mobile phones switched off within the Abbey church.

Many people state that Westminster Abbey provides the best self-guided audio tour (included in admission price) they have ever encountered. Definitely need to get the audio-guide to get the full appreciation.

Duration: At least 3 hours with the audio guide.

Tips and Warnings: Expect long queues and crowds, even when you are inside. NOTE: Be sure the Abbey is open. It might be closed to private events.

General: Westminster Abbey was founded in 960 AD as a Benedictine monastery. Following the Reformation in the 16th century the Church of England was formed. Many traditions remain in the Abbey but services are conducted in English, and not Latin. The Abbey was practically built built from year 1065. Westminster, means Church in the West (west of St. Paul’s Cathedral). For the next 250 years, the Abbey was remodeled to become essentially the church you see today. An extensive 19th-century remodel preserved the original Gothic style. Westminster Abbey is the nation's Coronation Church and also the burial and memorial place for historical figures from the last thousand years of British history. Within this church you will find the last resting place of kings and queens, lords and ladies, great poets, scientists, generals, clergy.

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Nearest Underground Stations: St James's Park (6 minute walk), Westminster (7 minute walk).

Interior: The ground floor is occupied by offices, dining rooms and bars; the first floor (known as the principal floor) houses the main rooms of the Palace, including the debating chambers, the lobbies and the libraries. The top-two floors are used as committee rooms and offices.

Westminster Cathedral Nave: The Abbey’s nave is the tallest in England.

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The Sanctuary:

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Altar in Sanctuary:

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Tomb of Edward the Confessor - The Chapel containing the shrine of St. Edward the Confessor, lies east of the Sanctuary at the heart of the Abbey, on raised area behind the Altar, but, off limits to the public. You can see only the sheer top of his gold-green tomb. The shrine of Edward the Confessor is accessible only to the members of the verger tour (costs £3 more than standard entry and for that you get a 90 minute guided tour):

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Edward's shrine in Westminster Abbey, a tall pillared box surrounded by candles

The Coronation Chair (or King Edward's / St. Edward's Chair) is the throne on which the British monarch sits for the coronation. It was commissioned in 1296 by King Edward I to contain the coronation stone of Scotland, known as the Stone of Scone (now, in Scotland) - which he had captured from the Scots. The chair was named after Edward the Confessor, and was kept in his shrine of St Edward's Chapel (near the main exit):

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File:SanktEdvardsstol westminster.jpg

Southern Ambulatory:

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Henry VII Chapel, banners of Bath Order of Knights: Probably, the most sensational hall in the Abbey. The stained-glass windows, the colorful flags and banners, and the masterpiece work in wood, and stone give this room the air of a medieval royalty:

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Tomb of King Henry III (reigned 1216 to 1272, and was crowned king of England at the age of nine):

File:Westminster.abbey.tombofhenry.london.arp.jpg

Tomb of King Henry VII:

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Tomb of Queen Elizabeth I. There are actually two queens buried beneath it, both daughters of Henry VIII (Elizabeth I and Mary I). The two half-sisters hated each other in life. Mary even had Elizabeth imprisoned in the Tower of London for a short time. Now they lie side by side for eternity:File:20131018QueenBessGraveL.JPG

Other Chapels:

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The Quire (nestled in the Nave of the North Transept): Edward Blore created the present Choir in Victorian Gothic style. It is here that the choir, of twenty-two boys and twelve men of the choir, sings the daily Services. The north choir aisle is known as Musicians’ Aisle where several musicians are buried (Purcell) or have memorial stones (Elgar, Benjamin Britten). THe Quire is distinguished by the black and white marble floor. You can seat and listen to the Evening Service on first-come-first-enter bassi. Come 30 minutes before service time. In holidays (like Christmas) come plenty of time before:

Quire looking west

(taken from Westminster Abbey web site):

The Choir of Westminster Abbey

Organ case and console

Poet's Corner has tombs and memorials for such well-known writers as Geoffrey Chaucer, Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy, D H Lawrence, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Some of the most famous poets lie here: Robert Browning, Tennyson and John Masefield. in the south transept, though the first occupant, Geoffrey Chaucer, was in fact buried here not because he was a poet, but because he lived nearby. By the eighteenth century this zone had become an artistic pantheon, and since then, the transept has been filled with tributes to all shades of talent:
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South Rose Window: (taken from Westminster Abbey web site):

South rose window

Churchill Grave:

Sir Winston Churchill, born 30 November 1874, died 24 January 1965, is not buried in Westminster Abbey but just inside the west entrance, near the grave of the Unknown Warrior, is a green marble memorial stone. It was unveiled by The Queen on 19 September 1965 and the inscription was cut by the sculptor Reynolds Stone. This reads:

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The Grave of the Unknown Warrior is a fascinating story of an unidentified British soldier killed on a European battlefield during the First World War. Body brought back from France after the First World War, along with 100 barrels of French soil to bury him. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, London on 11 November 1920, simultaneously with a similar interment of a French unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. 

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BENEATH THIS STONE RESTS THE BODY
OF A BRITISH WARRIOR
UNKNOWN BY NAME OR RANK
BROUGHT FROM FRANCE TO LIE AMONG
THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS OF THE LAND
AND BURIED HERE ON ARMISTICE DAY
11 NOV: 1920, IN THE PRESENCE OF
HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE V
HIS MINISTERS OF STATE
THE CHIEFS OF HIS FORCES
AND A VAST CONCOURSE OF THE NATION

THUS ARE COMMEMORATED THE MANY
MULTITUDES WHO DURING THE GREAT
WAR OF 1914 – 1918 GAVE THE MOST THAT
MAN CAN GIVE LIFE ITSELF
FOR GOD
FOR KING AND COUNTRY
FOR LOVED ONES HOME AND EMPIRE
FOR THE SACRED CAUSE OF JUSTICE AND
THE FREEDOM OF THE WORLD

THEY BURIED HIM AMONG THE KINGS BECAUSE HE
HAD DONE GOOD TOWARD GOD AND TOWARD
HIS HOUSE.

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Chapter House: A chapter house is an hall or room that is part of a cathedral, monastery or collegiate church - in which meetings are held. In the East Cloister of Westminster Abbey there is an octagonal (exceptional architecturally), grand room - the Chapter House, dating from 1245. The chapter house was built (concurrently with the east parts of the abbey) under Henry III, between about 1245 and 1253. The room is lavishly adorned with sculpture, and wall paintings of the Apocalypse, with the Last Judgement painted on the east wall. It contains one of the finest medieval tile pavements in England. The stained-glass windows incorporate Victorian and new post-war designs. 

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File:Westminster Abbey Chapter House 1.JPG

College Garden is thought to be oldest garden in England at nearly 1,000 years old. Pick up a leaflet at the garden entrance to learn about the planting. College Garden is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

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Westminster Abbey Cloisters: The cloisters are open from 8:00  - 18:00, but you can only enter for free after 16:30 on weekdays and 14:30 on weekends. At all other times you must enter via the main entrance. Children can dress as a monk and have their photo taken in the Cloisters. Go to the Abbey Museum and ask to borrow a costume!

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The Eastern Cloister leading to the Chapter House:

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St. Margaret Church:

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The Jewels Tower:

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The Northern facade of Westminster Abbey:

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The Dean's Yard: to the south-west of the Westminster Abbey. To the west of Westminster School and the the College Gardens. Closed to traffic but open to the public. A fascinating place.

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Westminster School in the Dean's Yard:

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Westminster Abbey Western Facade from the Dean's Yard:

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Westminster Abbey Eastern Facade:

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Westminster Abbey from south-west:

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Westminster Abbey from Abingdon Street:

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Westminster Abbey from Victoria Gardens with August Rodin sculpture  The Burghers of Calais (photo from 2010):

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Food

Central Hall Westminster or Wesley's Cafe at the Methodist Central Hall/Church:

This café is in the basement of the Methodist Hall right opposite Westminster Abbey. Please note that conferences are held in the building and this can mean that the cafe is busy at certain times. Cafeteria style. The food and drink are VERY reasonable in price. Good food. Service is fast and efficient.  Free wifi. Modern, clean, free toilets. No Alcohol. 

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