Sometime around 1045, Edward the Confessor began building Westminster Abbey as part of a new palace. A church had occupied the site for many years prior, but little is known about it. Westminster Abbey was consecrated in 1065, and the next year held the coronation ceremony for both Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon king, and William the Conqueror. The modern abbey began to take shape in 1245, under Henry III, as he expanded and renovated the church. The iconic towers were built in the Gothic revival style between 1722 and 1745.
The church is the site for the christening, marriage, coronation, and burial of British monarchs. Though it had not been used for the purpose since the 14th century, all royal weddings since 1919 have been held here, with the exception of Charles and Diana. Henry III was the first king to be buried here. Westminster Abbey is the final resting place of 16 other monarchs, plus many famous Britons, including Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton. All coronations since 1066 have been held at the abbey as well.
Westminster Abbey is definitely a must-see attraction. It’s humbling to walk inside a building that’s been in constant use for nearly a thousand years. There are few places in the world that so thoroughly immerse you in history. The Poet’s Corner has plaques and tombs dedicated to England’s greatest writers and the royal tombs are a reminder of the longevity of the monarchy. English speakers will definitely want to pick up the audio guide, which adds context and lots of intriguing details about the abbey.
Address: Parliament Square, SW1
Telephone: +44 020 7654 4900
Metro: Westminster (Jubilee, District, Circle)
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 09:30-16:30
Wednesday 09:30-19:00; Saturday 09:30-2:30
No visitors on Sunday.
13.00 Students and Seniors (60+)
6.00 Children (11-18)
Free for children under 11.