Westminster Abbey Pictures
Westminster Abbey's adjacent offices. Not too shabby.
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Founded in the 11th century by Edward the Confessor - who's also buried there along with 16 other Kings and Queens - the Abbey's stunning Gothic architecture has played host to great royal moments over the centuries - including the coronation of Elizabeth II, the funeral of Princess Diana and more recently the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Apart from hosting royal reality shows the Abbey
is also home to dazzling stained glass, grand paintings and the rich and famous dead or if they're not actually buried there then a dramatic marble memorial will do.
The Top Ten sights in Westminster Abbey are:
Lady Chapel (see below); Cosmati Pavement (the tiled floor in front of the High Altar, laid in 1268); the tombs of Queen Elizabeth I and her rival Mary Queen of Scots; the shrine of King (St.) Edward the Confessor; Poet's Corner; the Nave (see below); Coronation Chair; Chapter House; the Abbey Museum; Great Cloister (have a cup of coffee there!).
20th century Christian martyrs on the Abbey west side above the main door, including Martin Luther King of USA at #5, Oscar Romero of San Salvador at #6 and Wang Zhiming of China at #10 (right side).
Rare sun on the north side of the Abbey.
This side is visitor entry point (not the grand west entrance), with two lines going left and right at busy time, one for cards and one for cash. This photo was taken at 6pm so the Abbey was closed for tourism then.
General opening times are:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9.30am-4.30pm (last admission at 3.30pm).
Wednesday 9.30am-7.0pm (last admission 6pm)
Saturday 9.30am-2.30pm (last admission 1.30pm)
Sunday is for worship only, no tourism.
Tourists would be well advised to visit out of season or arrive as early as possible and head straight for prime sights. Since Prince William and Kate got married here in 2011 the Abbey has become a tourism magnet sucking in the crowds.
Our verdict: This is a fascinating place
full of colour, history and sights but it's difficult to drift around plugged into your audio guide in a tranquil and appreciative mood during holiday months, so either accept that there will be herds of visitors grazing, shuffling and mooing around you, or go at another time.
An interesting option involving no money but also no easy access to the abbey's nooks and crannies is to attend a choir service. The Choir of Westminster Abbey is always young but extremely talented and well-trained, singing music by famous composers such as Mozart and Mendelssohn in the Quire (photo below).
Generally Evensong starts daily at 5pm, except for Saturdays at 3pm and Sunday services
at 10am, 11.15am and 3pm. But check choral services online beforehand!
Henry VII's Lady Chapel and the heraldic banners of living knights.
'The last great masterpiece of medieval architecture', the Lady Chapel started life in 1503 at the command of King Henry, who was (later!) buried in the chapel. The dark wood tomb visible of the left contains the remains of Elizabeth I and her half-sister Mary I. The most impressive feature of this stylistically busy chapel is the fan-vaulted ceiling.
One of the Abbey's two Rose Windows.
The Quire looking towards the High Altar. More Westminster Abbey Pictures.
Getting to Westminster Abbey
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