Westminster Abbey | Kidadl

Westminster Abbey

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  • Explore over a thousand years’ worth of British history with a visit to the incredible Westminster Abbey.
  • Visit the incredible Lady Chapel, with its beautiful stained glass windows, decorations and important place in royal history.
  • Remember Britain’s rich literary history at Poet’s Corner, home to memorials to hundreds of Britain’s most celebrated writers.
  • Get involved with one of the family event days at the Abbey, where you can learn more about the amazing history of this site.

Westminster Abbey has played a central role in British history for over a thousand years. The impressive Abbey in Westminster, London, has been the site of every coronation for English and British kings since William the Conqueror was crowned there in 1066. It has also been the venue for sixteen royal weddings, including the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.

Today, the Abbey is both a working church and an incredible place to visit. The Abbey is open to visitors six days a week, excluding Sundays and religious holidays. A visit to the Abbey promises an exciting and historic experience, as you walk amongst the memories of a thousand years’ worth of British monarchs. The Abbey itself is over 900 years old, having been built in 1090, and has been an important religious site for British Christians for even longer. The Abbey’s towers are 69 metres tall, and the current Abbey took around twenty years to build.

A large part of the Abbey’s history comes from the history of royal events that have taken place there, such as royal coronations. In this ceremony, the monarch is ordained by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Church of England. The most recent coronation at Westminster Abbey took place in 1953 when a young Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in the first-ever televised British coronation.

The magnificent Coronation Chair has been used in coronation ceremonies for over seven hundred years, having first been used in 1308. This is the chair the monarch sits on during the ceremony, and it is on permanent display at the St. George’s Chapel in the Abbey. It’s sure to be a highlight of any Westminster Abbey tour.

The Abbey has been an important place of worship, life, and death for many of Britain’s most important figures. Over 3,000 people are buried at the Abbey, including at least seventeen English and British monarchs, such as Henry VII, Elizabeth I, and Charles II. 

It’s not only monarchs who have the privilege of being buried at Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey burials include the section known as “Poet’s Corner”, which is the resting place of over 100 of Britain’s most famous writers and poets. 

These writers include Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and Rudyard Kipling. There are also memorials to famous writers such as Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, and William Shakespeare. These incredible artefacts make this part of the Abbey a must-see for any literature lovers.

The Abbey is home to some stunning architecture, designed by Britain’s most celebrated architects over the centuries including Henry Yevele. One of the most beautiful areas that you can visit on a tour of Westminster Abbey is the Lady Chapel. This is the burial site of fifteen monarchs, and is a room of incredible beauty, with stained-glass windows and vaulted ceilings.

It isn’t just historical artefacts that can be marvelled at during a visit to the Abbey. Celebrated British pop artist David Hockney was commissioned to create a piece to mark the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The result was a brilliant stained glass window called “The Queen’s Window”, which represents the Queen’s love of the countryside and was unveiled in 2018.

There’s plenty of things for kids to do at Westminster Abbey. There are children’s trails leaflets available for free, which allow kids to explore the Abbey in the ways they want to. The Abbey also hosts family event days throughout the year, where kids can get involved with arts and crafts projects and other fun activities.

What to know before you go

  • Westminster Abbey opening times are from 9:30am to 3:30pm from Monday to Saturday. The Abbey is closed to tourists on Sundays. A visit to Westminster Abbey will take around two hours to see everything.
  • There are multiple places where you can get something to eat at the Abbey. The Cellarium restaurant and café is spread out over two floors and serves a range of delicious food, with coffee, cake, and larger meals. There’s also the Kiosk in the Sanctuary, just outside the entrance to the Abbey. Here, you can buy snacks, ice creams, sandwiches, and drinks. The Kiosk is card or contactless only.
  • There are accessible toilets at Westminster Abbey, and they are located in the Cloisters. There are also baby changing facilities in this section of the Abbey.
  • Most of the Abbey is accessible to those with mobility issues or parents with buggies. However, some areas are unavailable because they are too narrow and inaccessible.

Getting there

  • Westminster Abbey is located in the Westminster area of London, directly next to the Palace of Westminster and the Houses of Parliament.
  • The nearest car park to Westminster Abbey is Q-Park Westminster, a four-minute walk away from the church. Traffic in Central London can get bad, so public transport is a better option if you can use it.
  • The Abbey is very accessible by public transport. The nearest Tube Station is Westminster, which is on the Jubilee, District, and Circle lines and is a three-minute walk away from the Abbey. There’s also St. James Park Station, which is a four-minute walk away on the District and Circle lines.
  • For rail services, London Victoria is a 15 to 20-minute walk away from Westminster Abbey. London Waterloo is also a similar distance away, across the River Thames and over Westminster Bridge.
  • There are plenty of bus services that have routes with stops near the Abbey. These include the 11, 24, 148, and 211.

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