Westminster Abbey is probably the most famous church in the UK. It is the church where royal weddings, coronations and burials take place. This wonderful church is in the city of Westminster in central London.
Legend says that Saberht, the first Christian king of the East Saxons, founded a church on a small island in the River Thames, then known as Thorney but later called the west minster (or monastery). It is certain that about 785 CE there was a small community of monks on the island and that the monastery was enlarged and remodeled by St. Dunstan of Canterbury about 960. St. Edward the Confessor built a new church on the site, which was consecrated on December 28, 1065. It was of considerable size and cruciform in plan. In 1245 Henry III pulled down the whole of Edward’s church (except the nave) and replaced it with the present abbey church in the pointed Gothic style of the period. The rebuilding of the Norman-style nave was begun by the late 1300s under the architect Henry Yevele and continued until Tudor times. The Early English Gothic design of Henry III’s time predominates, however, giving the whole church the appearance of having been built at one time. The western towers were the last addition to the building. They were built by Nicholas Hawksmoor and John James and completed about 1745. The choir stalls in the body of the church date from 1847, and the high altar and reredos were remodeled in 1867.
The abbey was heavily damaged in the bombings during World War II, but it was restored soon after the war.
A visit to Westminster Abbey is a must for anybody with an interest in history or royalty. Some of the most popular things to see in Westminster Abbey include Poet’s Corner, the Coronation Chair, the Lady Chapel, Royal Tombs and the Chapter House.
The Abbey is open to visitors and there is no charge if you want to worship.