Address: 20 Dean's Yard, London SW1P 3PA


Time Information:

Phone: 0207 222 5152

Entry Price: £20 for adult tourist


1200m from Victoria

250m from Westminster

Westminster Abbey is one of the most famous churches in the world, being the wedding venue in 2011 of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Its royal history is extraordinary and it’s seen a total of 16 royal marriages and been the burial place for a host of kings and queens. The burial place of famous people also, including statesmen, soldiers, poets, musicians and scientists.

A Benedictine monastery was built in 960 by St Dunstan, this thought to have been on the site of an earlier church that went back to 600. Edward the Confessor’s reign from 1042 became a turning point. He had the vision of a fine royal church that would be the burial ground for future kings and queens. Although unfinished, the church was consecrated in 1065 and when Edward died only 8 days later, he was buried there. He was made a saint in 1161.

In 1245 Henry III did a huge amount of rebuilding and transferred St Edward’s grave to a magnificent setting by the High Altar. By 1510 Henry VII had built Lady Chapel which, with Edward’s grave are two of the most important sights. Today, the only two remaining parts of Edward’s abbey are the rounded arches and columns in the Undercroft, and the Pyx Chamber in the Cloisters.

The Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536-41 by Henry VIII saw most abbeys destroyed, but Henry saved the Abbey by turning it into an English cathedral. His Roman Catholic daughter Mary I reinstated the Benedictine Abbey in 1556, but when succeeded by her sister Elizabeth I the monks were again ejected and it became a ‘Royal Peculiar’, a church that was under the control of the Crown, not a bishop. It was effectively the church of the monarch.

By tradition the coronations of all English and subsequently British kings and queens, starting with Harold I and then William the Conqueror in 1066, have been at the Abbey. Since 1308 they have all been seated on King Edward’s Chair and have used the Scottish Stone of Scone for the ceremony, which is conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Abbey is open to the public.

The Abbey lies next to the Houses of Parliament, with these two famous London landmarks being instrumental in the shaping of British history.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.