London Explorer PassFree entry to 7 attractions Save up to 40% Visit the Abbey and up to six more attractions of your choice for free when you buy a London Explorer Pass
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ViatorWestminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament This 3-hour guided tour will show you around Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament
ViatorWestminster Abbey and Banqueting House A 3½-hour tour of Westminster Abbey and Banqueting House with your own personal guide
You don't have to be religious to enjoy a church service at Westminster Abbey. We recommend that you attend the daily Evensong at 5 PM (3 PM on weekends), because it combines a traditional service with some beautiful music from a choral choir.
What you have to do is queue up outside the West Door about 30 mins before it starts. All of the sightseeing tourists will be kicked out of the Abbey at closing time, and then they will let you all back in again for the service. You will then be ushered up the Nave, past the 'Grave of the Unknown Soldier', and into the pews in the North and South Transept. The golden altar and Quire will be either side of you (the most beautiful part of the Abbey), and if you get a seat near the front then you will have a fantastic view of the Cosmati pavement.
The church service is very traditional (it's a real service), and will have readings, sermons and prayers. The congregation will be encouraged to sing some of the hymns, but the choral choir will sing the rest. There will also be a Holy Communion (which you do not have to take part in).
Once the service is over you will be ushered straight out the door. There is no opportunity for sightseeing afterwards.
Craig has attended this service himself, and thinks it extremely worthwhile. At the very least, it's a great way to see the inside of the Abbey for free (because they don't charge people to pray). The section you see is very small, however, so it doesn't compare with a normal tour -- he still recommends visiting Westminster Abbey during the day to get the best of it. But have a read of his review of the Evensong service on his blog, so you can see what it's like. Feel free to ask him some questions as well.
If you enjoy this service, then you might want to try the Evensong at St. Paul's Cathedral as well. (But if truth be told, Craig definitely prefers the one at Westminster Abbey -- read his review of the Evensong at St. Paul's to find out why.) You could even try the Sunday service at the Tower of London, or the Sunday service at Hampton Court Palace.
Note: Whilst there is no specific dress code inside the Abbey, you are asked to dress in a respectful manner.
Guest – “Hello, Typically how long are the Evensong services? Thanks!”
Admin – “It's always an hour long 5 PM to 6 PM during the week (except Wednesdays) 3 PM to 4 PM at the weekend”
Craig’s review – “You know you're getting old when you'd rather go to a Choral Evensong at Westminster Abbey 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… continued”
Evensong Mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral – Every day – If you attend a choral Evensong service at St Paul's Cathedral, you can wander around and see part of the Cathedral for free.
Sunday organ recitals at St Paul’s Cathedral – Every Sun (apart from the last Sun of the month) – Every Sunday St Paul's Cathedral invites one of the world's finest organists to play on the Grand Organ for half-an-hour.
Sunday service at the Tower of London – Every Sun (except during Aug) – You can attend a Sunday service at the Chapel Royal in the Tower of London -- one of the most historic churches in the City.
Choral Mass at Hampton Court Palace – Every Sun (except during the summer) – Attend a Sunday service in one of the country's most beautiful chapels -- Henry VIII's Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace.
If you enjoy Westminster Abbey then you might like to visit Brompton Oratory (catch the train from Westminster to Brompton Oratory), St. Paul’s Cathedral (catch the train from Westminster to St. Paul’s Cathedral) and Westminster Cathedral (walk it in 12 mins or catch the tube from Westminster to Westminster Cathedral)
Disclaimer: Event details can change at short notice and you should reconfirm everything before making plans