"Westminster Abbey" Westminster Abbey Tip by addot

Westminster Abbey, London: 267 reviews and 467 photos

 
 

Westminster Abbey is one of my favorite London sights, due to the incredible architechture and history. I am always amazed by great gothic cathedrals. If you have not seen one, it is something you must do. Try to imagine how such a structure was raised using only hand tools.

The Abbey has been home to all English coronations since 1066. The coronation chair is on display. Notice the open area under the seat for the Stone of Scone. This stone was used as the coronation seat of the Kings of Scotland until it was stolen by Edward I 1296 in an attempt to lay claim to the Scottish throne. Exactly 700 years later, the stone was returned to Scotland where it is kept, except when needed for the now united kingdoms. It was interesting that the sign on the stone in Scotland says it has been "returned" while the sign in Westminster Abbey says it is "on loan".

The more recent chapel added by Henry VII is done in the stunning perpendicular gothic style. Be sure to look up at the fan vaulted ceiling. The Abbey is filled with tombs and monuments to Kings, Queens, and famous people from the past 1000 years of English history.

The Abbey is often very crowded. Long lines of people waiting to get in can make touring problematic. Most take the self guided tour where you just follow the line of other tourists in one door and out the other. As with most self guided tours, it helps to have a guidebook before you go so you can know what you are looking at. I suggest you step aside and take time to linger on the sights rather than just keep in step with the mob. When we visited, we reserved and pre-paid for a guided tour. This is nice as you can see things that aren't on the regular tour and you don't have to wait in line to get in.

For an especially moving experience, try to attend a church service. On some evening (late afternoon) the evening prayers are sung. Sitting in the medeval choir stalls and listening to the choir and organ in a gothic cathedral is an expericent that can not be duplicated anywhere else.

Address: Deans Yard, SW1
Directions: St James's Park tube
Phone: 0 20 7654 4900
Website: http://www.westminster-abbey.org

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  • Written Jun 28, 2005
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