Westminster Abbey, London

Westminster Abbey, London (must see)

Westminster Abbey is a Gothic church in the municipal borough of The City of Westminster. Back in the day, Westminster was a totally separate town from London. The documented origins of the abbey date back to the late 10th century. A century later, during a major reconstruction run by King Edward the Confessor, the church got its Romanesque look becoming one of the grandest temples of Europe of that period. The construction of the present church started in 1245 under Henry III, who put the unique Cosmati pavement in front of the High Altar, and it was largely completed during the reign of King Richard II. Under Henry VII, a chapel was added, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The chapel took 16 years to build and was finished in 1519. The two western towers of the abbey, featuring early Gothic Revival style, were added between 1722 and 1745. In the 19th century, the abbey underwent further refurbishment.

By far more than just a church but a symbol rather, Westminster Abbey, in a way, represents the epitome of Britishness set in stone. This is the place where all the English and later British monarchs have been crowned, starting with William the Conqueror in 1066. Some of them, like Queen Elizabeth I, are buried here as well, alongside prominent Britons like scientists Isaac Newton & Charles Darwin, writers Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Rudyard Kipling, actor Laurence Olivier, and many others. In 1997, funeral of Diana, the Princess of Wales was held here. Recently, the Abbey made mark on a more cheerful note hosting the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011. The ceremony was televised to a billion audience worldwide and largely added to the abbey's popularity.

Owing to this popularity, all year round, Westminster Abbey is besieged by visitors who stand in long queues outside, waiting to get in. If you wish to skip the line, it is therefore recommended that you get your tickets online, in advance. Upon arrival, just tell the attendants you have your tickets already and walk straight in. No picture taking is allowed inside the abbey, mind you, so you'll have to rely entirely on your visual memory to absorb whatever info you can about this magnificent place.

***Charles Dickens Tour***
No Dickens tour of London is complete without calling at Westminster Abbey to see the final resting place of one of England's greatest novelists. Found in the Poet’s Corner, alongside the likes of Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Hardy, Alfred Tennyson and Rudyard Kipling, a small stone with a simple inscription marks the grave of Charles Dickens.

Per author's own will, "That my name be inscribed in plain English letters on my tomb... I rest my claims to the remembrance of my country upon my published works...", the tombstone inscription simply states:

CHARLES DICKENS
BORN 7th FEBRUARY 1812
DIED 9th JUNE 1870

Dickens died at his home in Gad's Hill Place, near Rochester, Kent but was interred in Westminster Abbey following public demand, led by The Times newspaper, that the abbey be the only place for the burial of someone of such distinction. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Dean of Westminster, after being approached by John Forster and the author's son, readily agreed and the funeral was held strictly private, following Dickens' own instructions.

Why You Should Visit:
One can't deny the amazing architecture and history when approaching this collection of buildings.
Final resting place of so many people that contributed to civilization, both ancient and recent.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Tue, Thu, Fri: 9:30am-3:30pm; Wed: 9:30am-6pm; Sat: 9am-3pm (May-Aug) / 9am-1pm (Sep-Apr); Sun: Open for servies

This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour of London, England within the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" which can be downloaded from iTunes App Store or Google Play. Please download the app to your mobile phone or tablet for travel directions for visiting this sight. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Westminster Abbey on Map

Sight Name: Westminster Abbey
Sight Location: London, England
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) containing this sight: City Orientation Walk  

Walking Tours in London, England

Create Your Own Walk in London

Create Your Own Walk in London

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Bridges of London

Bridges of London

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Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.2 Km or 3.9 Miles
Charles Dickens Tour

Charles Dickens Tour

Today's world's literature and mass culture in general is hardly imaginable without the works of Charles Dickens who is largely recognized as the greatest British novelist of the Victorian era. A pioneer of “cliffhanger” endings, Dickens remains one of the best-known and most-read of English authors whose works never go out of print, and have been adapted numerous times for the...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 Km or 3.4 Miles
Kensington/Knightsbridge Walk

Kensington/Knightsbridge Walk

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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.4 Km or 2.7 Miles
Shakespeare's London Walking Tour

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Just as his father John previously, who made way from his tiny home village of Snitterfield, Warwickshire to Stratford upon Avon to become a “gentleman”, William Shakespeare made his own way to London to become the greatest playwright this world has ever seen. The years spent in the capital largely shaped Shakespeare's writing and influenced his legacy. This walk covers the most prominent...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 Km or 3.2 Miles
City of London Walk

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The City of London is the capital’s historic and financial heart. In this neighborhood colloquially known as the Square Mile as it is 1.12 square miles in area, the Roman and medieval remains stand side by side with 21st century architecture. This self-guided walk takes you back in time by strolling through narrow alleys and cobbled streets in this most historic part of the capital.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 Km or 3.4 Miles
Harry Potter Walk in London

Harry Potter Walk in London

The arrival of Harry Potter books, followed by tremendously successful Hollywood adaptation, has made London even more popular now with the Harry Potter fans all over the world. The list of attractions in the city associated with Potter’s journeys includes both, newly-invented as well as some long-standing locations. To follow in the footsteps of the young wizard and his friends in the British...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.8 Km or 4.2 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


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