Westminster Abbey is one of the world’s great churches – with a history stretching back over a thousand years – and an essential part of any trip to London. Each year the Abbey welcomes over one million visitors who want to experience and explore this wonderful 700-year-old building. Thousands more worship there at daily services.
The Abbey is a working church and an architectural masterpiece.
Founded as a Benedictine monastery, and rebuilt by Edward the Confessor in 1065, the building as it is today was begun by Henry III in the Gothic style in 1245. Now, in the 21st century, it endures as one of the most important and stunning examples of Gothic architecture in the country, with the medieval shrine of St Edward the Confessor at its heart to this day.
A burial place of kings, statesmen, poets, scientists, warriors and musicians, Westminster Abbey is a place of daily worship, a work of architectural genius and home to innumerable treasures and fascinating secrets, all just waiting to be discovered. 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.
2018 has been an exceptionally busy year for the Abbey; in June The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries were opened to the public.
In a space kept secret for 700 years, a staggering 52 feet above ground, the Galleries are now home to the Abbey’s most priceless treasures and tell the story of the building’s 1,000-year history.
From the eerily lifelike funeral effigy head of Henry VII to the marriage license of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the Galleries showcase not just the journey through time of the building itself but its role as a major place of worship standing at the heart of the nation.
In October, the Dean of Westminster dedicated the newest addition to the Abbey – The Queen’s Window. This dazzling stained glass window can be found in the North Transept; it was commissioned to celebrate the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and designed by the internationally renowned artist, David Hockney.
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’ – given its unique status, the Abbey has been the setting for every coronation since 1066 and for numerous other important royal occasions, including 16 royal weddings. Today, as well as remaining a church dedicated to regular worship and to the celebration of great events in the life of the nation, the Abbey is home to over one millennia of incredible British History.
WESTMINSTER ABBEY 20 DEANS YARD, WESTMINSTER, LONDON, SW1P 3PA
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