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Westminster Abbey London England

Over 900 years old, Westminster Abbey is a great national church. It is located near the Houses of Parliament in London. Rather than just a church or abbey, it seeming is a monument. It stands hand in hand with the name of the nations capital. Loved and known by English, British and World citizens and worshipers alike. Officially it is Collegiate Church of Saint Peter. Its bcame an Abbey as it once served as the church of an ancient monastery. Also, it was near Edward the Confessor's Westminster Palace. It is classified as a "royal peculiar" under the jurisdiction of a Dean and Chapter.

What to see inside

Worth seeing inside is the Jerusalem Chamber. this dates from the 1300's.

Also, the Cloisters were built between the 13th and 15th Centuries. These were completely rebuilt after the fire of 1298 and used for meditation and exercise.

The octagonal Chapter House is also worth a look. It has an original tile floor dating from 1250. Also, 14th Century murals and the Henry VII (or the Lady Chapel) featuring a large stained glass window. Dont forget to look for the Battle of Britain memorial window.

Another picture of the Abbey of Westminster

Historic events at the Abbey of Westminster

Westminster Abbey has marked the scene of many great events in English history. All the English rulers from the time of William the Conqueror, except Edward V and Edward VIII, were crowned here. Specifically in the chapel of Edward the Confessor and on the old Coronation Chair, which dates from 1300.

Picture of Westminster Abbey 1

The Greatest Honour in England

Burial in Westminster Abbey is one of the greatest honours England can give. Her kings and queens are buried in the chapel of Henry VII. Many of the greatest English poets lie in the Poets' Corner. With approximately 3300 people being buried here, such a confinement of space is created that many coffins are upright. Some of the famous entomed here are Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton and David Livingston.

Picture of Westminster Abbey 2

History of the Buildings

Its history begins with Edward the Confessor who built a church between 1042 and 1065. It was consecrated in his absence in 1065. The main part of the Abbey would only start appearing under the reign of Henry III in 1245. Impressed by French Gothic architecture, Henry III sent his personal architect across Europe to get ideas. This resulted in the destruction of almost all the original Norman elements. To see what it looked like prior to Henry III, one has to go see the Bayeux Tapestry. Large parts were later added: the Chapel of Henry VI between 1503 and 1512, the two West Front Towers in 1745 and the North entrance in the 19th Century.

From Abbey to Cathedral

Westminster Abbey became the seat of a bishop in 1539. This act made the Abbey a cathedral. However, only this one bishop has ever served. Queen Elizabeth I, who is buried in one of the apsidal chapels of Henry VII, re-founded the abbey as a Collegiate Church. It was thus not subject to the rule of any bishop. With the Sovereign as Visitor, its constitution was laid down in a charter granted in 1560.

Design and architecture

If you looked at its floor carefully enough, you will see that it is in the shape of a Latin cross. The church is 513 feet (156 meters) long. The transepts (cross arms) extend 203 feet (62 meters). The nave is England's highest and measures (main hall) 38 feet (12 meters) wide and 102 feet (31 meters) high. It contains the Grave of the Unknown Warrior, a World War I soldier buried in French soil, as well as a memorial for Winston Churchill who is not however buried here. The twin towers on the west are 225 feet (69 meters) high.

Damaged during and repaired after the war

Air raids in World War II damaged parts of the Abbey. A program was designed to completely restore Westminster Abbey and maintain it. This began in 1953 and was completed a few years later.

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