Few churches in the world double so easily (and famously) as art galleries and museums as Westminster Abbey. With a 1,000- year-plus history, it’s no wonder that this is one of the foundations of British history and among its foremost tourist treasures. It’s an absolute must-see on a tour of London. Strangely, given its vast appeal, endless strings of visitors, and occasionally noisy cadence, Westminster Abbey is also a place for reflection, silence and piety. Still used today as a place of daily worship, the Abbey echoes of history and speaks to the future.
Regarded as a “Royal Peculiar”, Westminster Abbey is not governed by an archbishop or bishop, but is the sovereignty of the Queen. All British monarchs, since William the Conqueror in 1066 have been crowned here; may also married here and are buried here, including Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, Richard II and Henry V.
Established by Benedictine monks, the Abbey is one of the world’s richest treasure troves of publicly displayed artifacts, architecture, manuscripts, textiles, sculpture, paintings and stained glass. The buildings that comprise all of Westminster Abbey are home to more than 600 monuments and wall tablets. In Poets Corner, the literary and theatrical likes of Samuel Johnson, David Garrick, Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray are interred.
Visitors will revel in the soaring, vaulted and arched ceilings, the intricate stonework and the solemn yet uplifting spirit of the place. Westminster Abbey is known to both take one’s breath away and restore an innate sense of balance and intimacy with God the moment the threshold is crossed.