Visit Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey map location

Westminster Abbey address and telephone

Address:
Westminster Abbey is located at: Parliament Square, Westminster,
London SW1P 3PA
England
Telephone:
You can contact Westminster Abbey on Work +44 (0) 207 222 5152
Website:
The Westminster Abbey website can be visited at westminster-abbey.org

Westminster Abbey opening times and ticket price

Opening hours:
Westminster Abbey is open to the public from: 9.30 AM to 4.30 PM (Mon-Tue, Thu-Fri); 9.30 AM to 7 PM (Wed); 9.30 AM to 4.30 PM (Sat, May-Aug); 9.30 AM to 2.30 PM (Sat, Sep-Apr); Closed (Sun, except for worship); Last entry 1 hour before closing
Time required:
A typical visit to Westminster Abbey lasts 2 hours (approx)
Ticket cost:
The entry price for Westminster Abbey is: Adult price £20.00; Child cost £9.00 (6-16); Infants free entry (under-6); Family ticket £45.00
Visiting hours and admission charges are subject to change, and may not apply on public holidays. Always reconfirm entrance fees and whether it’s open to visitors before booking tickets and making plans to visit Westminster Abbey

How to get to Westminster Abbey

When visiting Westminster Abbey you can use the following:
Parking:
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Minicabs:
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Buses:
11, 24, 148, 211
London bus fares
Trains:
St. James’s Park CRC DSC, Westminster CRC DSC JUB
If you want to visit Westminster Abbey by train then the nearest underground station to Westminster Abbey is Westminster
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Westminster Abbey Easy to get to? Good for kids? Value for money? Worth a visit?303

 From Westminster Abbey Westminster

 

Westminster Abbey history

Westminster Abbey is the setting for coronations, State funerals, and the burial place of many of England’s most famous kings and queens.

The Abbey was founded in 616 when a fisherman witnessed a vision. A shrine was then kept throughout the ages until some Benedictine monks built an actual abbey in the 730s. Edward the Confessor ordered the construction of a better building in 1045, and it was consecrated a week after his death.

Henry III knocked it all down in the 13th-century and began building it again from scratch. This construction was largely completed by Richard II 260 years later. Religious persecution throughout the 16th and 17th-centuries threatened many English churches and abbeys with destruction, but Westminster Abbey’s royal connections always kept it safe for the nation.

Photo: MathKnight and Zachi Evenor / Wikipedia

By the 18th-century it had risen to become the third-highest seat of learning in the country after Oxford and Cambridge.

Westminster Abbey coronations

William the Conqueror was the first king to be crowned at Westminster Abbey, on Christmas Day in 1066. The famous Coronation Chair may look modest, but it has been used at every coronation ever since. The only monarchs to skip the tradition were Edward V and Edward VIII.

Photo: Kjetil Bjornsrud / Wikipedia

The Scottish equivalent of the Coronation Chair is the Stone of Scone, which used to lie in the gap at the base of the chair. It was forcibly taken from the Scots in 1297 when Edward I dragged it back to London, but it has now been returned to its rightful place in Edinburgh.

Kings and queens buried in Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is also famous for its funerals. Every king and queen from Edward the Confessor to George II can be found buried at Westminster Abbey, with the exception of just two: Henry VIII and Charles I, who are both buried at Windsor Castle.

Westminster Abbey floor plan map

Charles I’s nemesis, Oliver Cromwell, was also given an elaborate funeral here in 1658, only to be dug up and hung when the monarchy was restored under his son. Such was Charles II’s anger, that he left his head upon Westminster Hall for twenty-five years until it finally fell off in a storm. It now resides in Cambridge. His body is believed to buried somewhere under Marble Arch.

Photo: / Wikipedia

The Chapel of Edward the Confessor [3] is one of the most famous tombs in Westminster Abbey, whilst the Henry VII Chapel [4] is easily the most beautiful. Banners of the Knights Order hang all around the choir stall, and the burial tomb of Henry and his Queen can be seen at the back.

Other monarchs interred in the Lady Chapel include Elizabeth I, Mary I and Edward VI. Mary Queen of Scots also has a tomb nearby. Most poignant of all is Innocents’ Corner [5], which containsg the bones of the two princes murdered in the Tower of London.

The full list of kings and queens buried inside Westminster Abbey is: Anne, Charles II, Edward the Confessor, Edward I, Edward III, Edward VI, Elizabeth I, George II, Henry III, Henry V, Henry VII, James I, Mary I, Mary II, Mary Stewart, Richard II and William III.

Poets’ Corner

One of the most popular parts of Westminster Abbey is Poets’ Corner [7] – the burial place of the nation’s greatest playwrights. You can see graves or memorials to Geoffrey Chaucer, Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens (who was apparently buried here against his wishes, on the orders of Queen Victoria).

Other writers include Milton, T S Eliot, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Rudyard Kipling, Dylan Thomas, Jane Austin and the Brontë Sisters. William Shakespeare is buried at Stratford-upon Avon, but still has a grand statue to commemorate him here.

Westminster Abbey Museum

The Abbey Museum is housed inside the Norman Undercroft. It contains creepy wax effigies of people’s actual death masks, including Elizabeth I, Charles II and Lord Nelson, crafted shortly before his burial in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Craig’s review of Westminster Abbey

This review originally appeared in his London blog

The last time I went to Westminster Abbey was back when William and Kate got hitched, so I thought I’d go back and have a proper look. It certainly looked a lotdifferent from when I saw the wedding highlights on the telly. For starters, there are no green trees up the aisle, and you can’t even look down the nave. I didn’t realise this before, but when there’s no big event going on they stick a big screen halfway up the nave and split the church in two. The people who want to come and listen to a mass come in the front door and see the first half, whilst all the tourists see the good stuff at the back.

The cloisters at Westminster Abbey

The Westminster Abbey tour begins in the centre of the church, alongside the golden altar and choir stalls. They give you a little map and an audioguide narrated by Jeremy Irons and then off you go… you walk around at your own pace punching the numbers into the audioguide to find out who is buried where.

I thought the audioguide was a bit rubbish, to be hones. It’s not detailed enough… it seems to skip a lot of the interesting stuff. For example, when you reach the RAF chapel it will tell you about the stained-glass window at the back, but it completely fails to mention that Oliver Cromwell used to be buried in the floor. Unless you happened to notice the plaque by your feet you would have strolled straight past, none the wiser.

Visiting Westminster Abbey

It also has an annoying habit of telling you about a few tombs, and then skipping straight over their neighbours. That’s no so bad when you’ve never heard of the occupant, but why do they tell you lots about Edward III and nothing about Henry V? Henry V was one of our greatest-ever kings and I find it incredible that we’ve still preserved his tomb – but the audioguide doesn’t seem to be very impressed.

The guide is also silent on the Prime Minsters buried in Westminster Abbey. It fails to point out where Winston Churchill is, for example, and says nought about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier either. I know that sounds unbelievable, but it’s true! Maybe Jeremy Irons had the day off when they did the burials. So take a tip from me and dont rely on the audioguide, or you’ll miss out lots of interesting facts – buy an actual guidebook and follow that instead.

Now that all of my moaning is out of the way, let me tell you that it’s a truly amazing place. It’s unlike any other church that you’ll have seen. The tombs and memorials and statues are piled up tight on top of each other and the whole thing is cramped like you wouldn’t believe. The monuments aren’t just in the walls either, there are plenty of plaques on the floor as well. You can walk past ten tombs every ten paces. Some of them are marble statues, whilst others are ten foot tall marble effigies.

Westminster Abbey cloisters

The best part of Westminster Abbey is unfortunately the one place that you can’t actually go, because it’s too fragile: the tomb of Edward the Confessor. It’s protected in the centre and all you can do is snatch glimpses of it past the tombs of famous kings like Henry V. Henry VII gets an entire chapel to themselves, and it’s so impressive that Elizabeth I decided to sneak in round the side.

After that you come to Poets’ Corner with the big statue of Shakespeare. Most of the other writers just get a plaque on the wall or the floor, and it’s difficult to see most of them because this is where all the tourists congregate. Shakespeare is probably the only Englishman they know, so they stand there for half an hour admiring it.

After that it’s nice to get a bit of peace and quiet in the cloisters and the gardens. The audioguide turns off at this point so you can wander around and have a bit of peace and quiet.

Photo: Aiwok / Wikipedia

The Chapter House is worth a look, and halfway round the cloisters is the Abbey Museum. It’s surprisingly small given the history of the place, but there’s a few bits and pieces in there that are worth seeing. They have a great collection of effigies of famous kings and queens. It’s like an early version of Madame Tussuads, I suppose, but with better clothes.

After that you head back inside the Abbey to see the first bit of the Nave that you missed earlier, which contains all the graves of the politicians, scientists and composers. There are some really big names here, like Disraeli, Gladstone, Isaac Newton and Elgar. Not to mention Churchill and the Unknown Soldier. But like I said before, the audioguide just gives up at this point, so you have to find them yourself.

Craig’s London blog> Read Craig’s latest review of Westminster Abbey  “Everyone who comes to London should visit Westminster Abbey... simple as that. It’s the second best building in the capital after Parliament, and contains the single greatest room in the Henry VII chapel. Unfortunately it’s also bloody expensive considering that it’s a church, but I suppose even God has his bills to pay. You definitely need to listen to the audio-guide all the way around otherwise you’ll miss a lot of interesting things, but I also recommend getting a good book and a map beforehand, because the guy on the audio-guide (Jeremy Irons) inexplicably misses out a lot of stuff… continued.”

Craig’s London blog> Read Craig’s review of the Evensong at Westminster Abbey  “You know you’re getting old when you’d rather go to a Westminster Abbey Evensong than a night out clubbing, but ah well – I am at that stage in life now. I am officially an adult. Let me just start off by saying that I am not religious in the slightest. I make Richard Dawkins look like the Pope. I totted up all the evidence for God and Father Christmas once, and Santa came out top – so that gives you some idea of what I think about Jesus. But I don’t think it really matters when it comes to enjoying a service at Westminster Abbey. There certainly isn’t any pressure to convert. The bouncer priests don’t look deep into your soul before they let you in… continued.”

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If you enjoy visiting Westminster Abbey then how about attending a choral Evensong service? You can attend another Evensong service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. You might like to visit Westminster Cathedral and climb the bell tower as well. Check out our list of churches in London and religious events and church services for some more ideas.


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> Talk about Westminster Abbey in the forum

 
  • JerrySmith – “Google says he was a zoologist and palaeontologist. He had a big beard like charles darwin, so he looked the part. My favourite bit of the abbey is henry vii chapel, thats where I want to be buried when I’m dead. Have you ever looked up at the roof? I saw it on a tony robinson programme once and when I went there I had a look and it was pretty special. They dont build tombs like that anymore, its too expensive. There's be an uproar. These days you had to bury your ashes in a yoghurt pot and donate the money to the pandas in the forest.”
  •  ourmick55 – “I been to wa many times.. It is as much a museum as a church and was always free to enter. Two years ago I met some Friends from the states who told me they were charging £15.00 per person to go in and could scarcely believe it. Is it true that admission is now charged ?”
  •  Guest – “The abbey is a very nice place to visit. If you want to see it please go because it tells or shows you the history.”

If you enjoy visiting Westminster Abbey, then you might enjoy some other London churches and cathedrals…

> St. Paul’s Cathedral St. Paul’s Cathedral, built after the Great Fire in 1666, boasts the second largest dome in Europe.
> Westminster Cathedral Westminster Cathedral is not as famous as the Abbey, but is worth a visit just for the high tower.
> Brompton Oratory Brompton Oratory is an Italian baroque church near the Victoria & Albert Museum.
 

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