London's Top 10 : Westminster Abbey

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A glorious example of Medieval architecture on a truly grand scale, this former Benedictine abbey church stands on the south side of Parliament Square. Founded in the 11th century by Edward the Confessor, it survived the Reformation and continued as a place of royal ceremonials. Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation was held here in 1953 and Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997. Royals, deans, statesmen, poets and writers are all buried or remembered here.

  • Broad Sanctuary SW1

  • 020 7222 5152


  • Abbey: open 9:30am–3:30pm Mon–Fri, 9:30am–1:30pm Sat. Open Sun for worship only

  • Museum: open 10:30am–4pm daily

  • Chamber and Chapter House: open 10am–4pm daily

  • Admission: adults £12; concessions £9; family £28; under 11s free

Abbey History

A Benedictine monastery was established by St Dunstan (AD 909–988) on what was the marshy Isle of Thorney. King Edward the Confessor re-endowed the monastery, and founded the present church in 1065. William the Conquerer was crowned here in 1066. Henry III’s architect Henry of Reyns rebuilt much of the church in 1245. The nave was completed in 1376. The eastern end of the church was extended by Henry VII who had the Lady Chapel built. Finally, in 1734–45, the twin towers on the west front were completed by Nicholas Hawksmoor.

Abbey Floorplan

Hear the choir sing at services at 5pm every weekday, 3pm on Saturdays and at the three Sunday services.

Listen to free organ recitals at 5:45pm every Sunday.

Guided tours and audio guides are available.

Top 10 Sights
  1. St Edward’s Chapel

    The shrine of Edward the Confessor (1003–66), last of the Anglo-Saxon kings, lies at the heart of the Abbey. He built London’s first royal palace at Westminster, and founded the present Abbey.

    The Abbey’s north transept
  2. Nave

    At 32 m (102 ft), this is the tallest Gothic nave in England. Built by the great 14th-century architect Henry Yevele, it is supported externally by flying buttresses.

  3. Poets’ Corner

    This corner of the transept contains memorials to many literary giants, including Shakespeare and Dickens.

  4. Lady Chapel

    The fan vaulting above the nave of this eastern addition to the church is spectacular late Perpendicular. Built for Henry VII (1457–1509), it includes two side aisles and five smaller chapels and is the home of the Order of the Bath .

  5. Coronation Chair

    This simple chair was made in 1301 for Edward I. It is placed in front of the high altar screen on the 13th-century mosaic pavement when used for coronations.

  6. Tomb of Elizabeth I

    England’s great Protestant queen (1553–1603) is buried on one side of the Lady Chapel while the tomb of her Catholic rival, Mary Queen of Scots (beheaded in 1587), is on the other side. Mary’s remains were brought to the abbey by James I in 1612.

  7. The Choir

    The all-boy Westminster Abbey Choir School, the only school in England devoted entirely to choristers, produces the choir which sings here every day. The present organ was installed in 1937 and first used at the coronation of George VI.

  8. Grave of the Unknown Warrior

    The body of an unknown soldier from the battlefields of World War I was buried here in 1920. He represents Britain’s war dead.

  9. Chapter House

    This octagonal building with a 13th-century tiled floor is where the Abbey’s monks gathered. The House of Commons met here between 1257 and 1542. It is now run by the Abbey and can also be reached via Dean’s Yard.

  10. Cloisters

    The cloisters were located at the heart of the former Benedictine monastery and would have been the monastery’s busiest area. On the east side are the only remaining parts of the Norman church, the Pyx Chamber, where coinage was tested in medieval times, and the Undercroft, which contains a museum.

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