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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is a large Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronations and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs. The building itself was a Benedictine monastic church until the monastery was dissolved in 1539. Between 1540 and 1556, the abbey had the status of a cathedral. Since 1560, the building is no longer an abbey or a cathedral, having instead the status of a Church of England “Royal Peculiar”, a church responsible directly to the sovereign.

According to a tradition, a church was founded at the site in the seventh century. Construction of the present church began in 1245, on the orders of King Henry III. Since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066, all coronations of English and British monarchs have been in Westminster Abbey. There have been 16 royal weddings at the abbey since 1100. It is also the burial site of more than 3,300 persons of prominence in British history.

Highlights of Westminster Abbey

  • King Edward’s Chair
  • The Cloister
  • Chapter house
  • Westminster Abbey Museum

Westminster Abbey

  • Site:                  Westminster Abbey
  • Formally:           The Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster
  • City:                  London
  • Country:            United Kingdom
  • Founded:          960
  • Type:                 Historical Site
  • Denomination: Church of England
  • Nave width:      85 feet (26 m)
  • Floor area:        32,000 square feet (3,000 m2)
  • Towers:             2
  • Tower height:   225 feet (69 m)
  • Bells:                10
  • Location:          20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London, UK

Facts about Westminster Abbey

As the burial site of more than 3,300 persons, usually of prominence in British history, including:

  • sixteen monarchs
  • eight Prime Ministers
  • poet laureates
  • actors
  • scientists
  • military leaders
  • the Unknown Warrior

There have been 16 royal weddings at the abbey since 1100, including:

  • 1100 – King Henry I of England
  • 1243 – Richard, Earl of Cornwall (later King of Germany), brother of King Henry III of England
  • 1269 – Edmund of Crouchback, 1st Earl of Leicester and Lancaster, son of King Henry III
  • 1290 – 7th Earl of Gloucester
  • 1290 – John II, son of Duke of Brabant
  • 1382 – King Richard II of England
  • 1486 – King Henry VII of England
  • 1919 – Captain the Hon. Alexander Ramsay
  • 1922 – Viscount Lascelles
  • 1923 – Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI), second son of King George V
  • 1934 – Prince George, Duke of Kent, son of King George V
  • 1947 – Duke of Edinburgh  and Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II)
  • 1960 – Antony Armstrong-Jones (later Earl of Snowdon) and Princess Margaret, second daughter of King George VI
  • 1963 – Hon. Angus Ogilvy and Princess Alexandra of Kent
  • 1973 Captain Mark Phillips Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II
  • 1986 Prince Andrew, Duke of York, second son of Queen Elizabeth II
  • 2011 Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II

Explore London’s Museums and Heritage Sites

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“The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”
– Bertrand Russell

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Photo Credit: JOM

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