Westminster Abbey, London

Westminster Abbey, London (must see)

Westminster Abbey stands as a striking Gothic church within the municipal boundaries of The City of Westminster. In the past, Westminster was an entirely distinct town separate from London. The documented origins of this abbey trace back to the late 10th century. A century later, during a major reconstruction under the reign of King Edward the Confessor, the church acquired its Romanesque appearance, becoming one of Europe's most magnificent religious structures of that era.

The construction of the current church started in 1245 under the rule of Henry III, who also oversaw the installation of the distinctive Cosmati pavement in front of the High Altar. Its completion largely occurred during King Richard II's reign. In 1519, during Henry VII's reign, a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary was added. The two western towers of the abbey, showcasing early Gothic Revival architecture, were incorporated between 1722 and 1745.

By far more than just a church but a symbol rather, Westminster Abbey, in a way, represents the epitome of Britishness set in stone. It serves as the historic site for the coronation of all English and subsequent British monarchs, starting with William the Conqueror in 1066. Notable figures such as Queen Elizabeth I, scientists Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, writers Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Rudyard Kipling, actor Laurence Olivier, and many others find their final resting places here. In 1997, the funeral of Diana, the Princess of Wales, took place at this site, and in 2011, the abbey hosted the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Due to its immense popularity, Westminster Abbey is constantly thronged by visitors queuing up outside throughout the year. To bypass the lines, it's advisable to purchase your tickets online in advance. Upon arrival, simply inform the attendants that you have pre-purchased tickets, and you can enter directly. Please note that photography is not permitted inside, so you'll have to rely solely on your visual memory to absorb the magnificence of this 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.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in London. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. 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 (See walking tours in London)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in London, England

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