Westminster Abbey, or St. Peter’s Cathedral Church, is a magnificent monument of architecture, stunning in its size and sumptuous interior. The church, built in the Gothic style, is the country’s main sanctuary, located in Westminster (London district) and is protected by UNESCO. Here are held coronations and burials of members of the British royal dynasty, buried prominent poets, officials, church officials (Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Winston Churchill and many others). It was here that Prince William and Kate Middleton had their “wedding of the century” on April 29, 2011.
In 1908, in the underground vaulted room (the oldest structure of the abbey, the 11th century sacristy) of Westminster Abbey, under the monks’ bedroom (dormitory), was arranged a small museum introducing the history of Westminster.
Westminster Abbey was founded in 1065 on the site of the old churches by Friar Edward the Confessor, whose tomb is in the Confessor’s crypt behind the main altar of the church. Later for three hundred years it was rebuilt, reconstructed, and decorated by a variety of architects to suit the whims of changing kings.
In 1908, in an underground vaulted room (the oldest building of the abbey, the 11th century sacristy) of Westminster Abbey, under the monks’ dormitory, a small museum was installed; it acquaints visitors with the history of Westminster.
The exposition includes very interesting exhibits from the historical point of view: fragments of sculptures of the 12th century and frescoes of the 13th century, posthumous masks and objects used at the funerals of prominent people, stone funeral statues of Henry VII, Edward III, Queen Elizabeth of York, William II, Charles II, Mary II, Horatio, Queen Anne, Viscount Nelson. Here you can also see on the tomb lids the helmet, shield and funeral saddle of Henry V, copies of the royal regalia, the throne of Mary II on which she was crowned, and wax figures of various celebrities.
There is a unique item in the museum’s exhibition, which was discovered during the restoration of the statue of Elizabeth I, an amazing 17th-century corset, itself now on display as a museum exhibit. Between the chapels of St. Edward and Henry VII stands the same coronation throne.
Under the towers at the west gate, for those who want to buy something memorable, there is a very good store with souvenirs, which you can enter without a ticket.
Here you are allowed to take pictures, but, of course, do not forget that this place is sacred, so empty cell phone conversations are not welcome.
In London, there is also Westminster Cathedral (near Victoria Station), Westminster Chapel and the Palace of Westminster. They should not be confused as they are all different sites in different locations.
Westminster Abbey is still a functioning church. Services and liturgies are held here, and a choir sings. And the monuments and tombstones of the temple have become a reminder to everyone of the origins, nobility and achievements of the people buried here.
Where is it located
Address: United Kingdom, London SW1P 3PA, 20 Deans Yd. You can get there by subway to Westminster or St James’s Park station.
Museum opening hours
The museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 10:30 to 16:00 (the opening hours are better to find out in advance, because Westminster Abbey is a functioning church, whose opening hours may change). It is advisable to arrive early, when it is not crowded. On Sunday the museum is closed – admission to the abbey is for parishioners only.