Our guide to visiting Westminster Abbey

Since its construction in the 11th century Westminster Abbey has played a pivotal role in the history and heritage of London and Britain as a whole, home to the crowning of our greatest monarchs and more recently the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Westminster Abbey has seen the crowning of the British Monarchy throughout the centuries since the invasion of William the Conqueror in 1066 right through to our current Queen Elizabeth II who celebrated her Diamond Jubilee (60 years on the throne) in 2012. Classed as a World Heritage Site, the Abbey is a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture boasting opulent interiors and a treasure trove of paintings, stained glass windows, pavements, textiles and other artefacts – Westminster Abbey is certainly a venue befitting of grand state ceremonies such as coronations and Royal Weddings!

Whilst the structure dates back to the 11th century and many of the interiors from the 13th century when it was developed by King Henry III, the Abbey has seen continued additions over the centuries namely in the form of tombs of monarchs and monuments dedicated to great Britons and statesman and women throughout the ages. Today the Abbey is widely considered the most significant collection of monumental sculpture anywhere in Britain.

The first monarch to be buried at Westminster was Edward the Confessor whose tomb is central within the Abbey, whilst the tombs of Queens Elizabeth I and Mary I are close by. There are also a number of memorials dedicated to those who have perished fighting for Britain over the years such as the tomb of soldier Thomas Wolfe dedicated to Canadian forces who have fought for Britain whilst the Tomb of the unknown soldier marks the sacrifice of British servicemen defending the realm. Many other significant Brits are remembered in the Abbey including Churchill, Gladstone and Franklin D Roosevelt not to mention poet and author Chaucer around which many other key cultural figures are commemorated in the area called Poets Corner.

Some of the highlights within the Abbey include the Chapter House, home to medieval paintings of the Revelations of St John depicting eerie scenes of judgement day and the stunning coronation chair built by Edward I , which has been used in the coronation of every King and Queen of England since 1308.

With its historic and modern connections with British culture and Monarchy, a visit to London is incomplete without a visit to Westminster Abbey.

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