On Thursday, Steve (DOS) and I returned to Westminster Abbey for a self-guided tour. We had attempted to tour Westminster Abbey yesterday, but apparently that is the one day a week that it’s closed for tours. While they have daily worship services free to the public, the self-guided tours require an admission ticket. Our admission ticket was included with the London Travel Pass we purchased prior to flying to London. (Note: I receive no compensation for anything I recommend or link to on this site. If I do link to it however, DOS and I especially enjoyed it and are happy to pass the info along.) We actually purchased a six day pass, as it’s only minimally incremental in cost each day. It also includes a one day Hop-on-Hop bus and a one day Uber Boat pass which can be used on whichever day you chose. It really is a great value, and with the mix of attractions, you no doubt won’t be able to do them all in one trip. We sure didn’t!
We queued up for the self-guided tour at Westminster Abbey on Thursday, and surprisingly the queue was very short. The agent scanned our London Travel Pass, and after going thru security, we were handed a recorded audio device and headsets which we used on our self-guided tour. It was customizable as well, depending how much time you had to spend; i.e. an hour, 90 minutes etc; there was no rush, it just helped to gauge your pace thru Westminster Abbey which can be overwhelming due to its sheer size, beauty, symmetry, history, and worship areas. It is a must-see on your visit to London, regardless of your religious views, in my humble opinion.
I am including a gallery at the end of this post in the interest of time as we have done so much sightseeing this week in London, it’s hard to find time to document everything! Here’s a link to Wikipedia and also Westminster Abbey’s official site for more information.
Just a few facts and trivia on Westminster Abbey from the Wikipedia article:
- Dates of construction dates back to 960 and was completed in 1065.
- ” Since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066, all coronations of English and British monarchs have occurred in Westminster Abbey.”
- “Sixteen royal weddings have occurred at the Abbey since 1100.”
- Is the Burial site of over 3,000 people of prominence in British History, including 16 monarchs and 8 Prime Ministers. There are also famous poets, scientists, military leaders, and a special “Tomb of the Unknown Warrior” from World War 1, which is the only tomb no one can walk over. It’s cordoned off and adorned with flowers and a memorial, whom only God knows is buried there. Thank you for your sacrifice “Unknown Warrior”; you are not forgotten.
- DOS and I were surprised to see that Evolution Scientist Charles Darwin was buried there as well as Atheist Scientist Steve Hawking’s ashes are buried here somewhere. We didn’t see Hawking’s grave (he was cremated), but did notice Charles Darwin’s grave towards the beginning of the tour. Apparently the Abbey seeks to unify science, religion, and notable people, and it is one of Britain’s highest honors to be buried there.
- Princess Diana’s formal funeral was held there on September 6, 1997, although she had a private service and was buried on the family’s island estate of Althorp. My parents were actually in London at the time of Princess Diana’s funeral, and while they couldn’t attend the funeral due to the immense crowds, they did ride by Westminster Abbey as part of their tour group, and saw the literally thousands of flowers left by the gates.
- The Abbey is made up of many sub-chapels within its walls, ranging from more simple to very ornate. The stained glass used in many areas is gorgeous, and the sheer size and symmetry is cause for some time and self-reflection, of which there are seating areas inside to do just that.
Here is a gallery of our visit to Westminster Abbey. Enjoy, and please go and visit sometime if you haven’t been yet!