Across the road from the Churchill War Rooms, the Imperial War Museum and the houses of parliament is a large protestant abbey called Westminster Abbey. It’s most recently known for hosting Kate Middleton and Prince William’s wedding and is an active place of worship.
Thought to have been founded by Benedictine monks in 960AD, the abbey is a resting place for many highly regarded writers and scientists such as Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, and Charles Dickens. Other graves include those of 17 British monarchs including King Henry V and all the Tudors except for Henry VIII.
Walking around the abbey inside, you can see the beautiful and ornate Henry VII Chapel, also known as Lady Chapel with a spectacular gold ceiling. If you’re feeling more athletic, there 180 steps (or a lift, if required) up to the Galleries. Here you will find exhibitions relating to the building of the abbey and the monarchy who play a role in its history.
You can also enjoy the Cellarium Cafe, which offers a range of food and drinks. The Cloisters are impressive architectural structures where monks would spend most of their time between the 13th and 15th centuries. The College Garden is a beautiful space in which food and medicinal herbs have been grown for centuries. The garden is only open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and even has a fishpond and beehive!
The abbey is open from 10 am to 3 pm Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 12.30pm Saturdays from September to April and 9.30am to 2.30pm Saturdays May to August. On Sundays, the Galleries is closed, but the abbey is open for services. It is recommended that an hour is needed for the full experience. However, the queues can be lengthy and known to take up to 45 minutes to enter.
Timeslot tickets are issued for the Galleries due to the lack of space and the high number of visitors. They are bought in combination with the Abbey entry ticket. At the door tickets are £23 for adults, £20 for concessions, £10 for children aged 6-16 and free for children 5 or under (prices as of June 2019). Tickets are cheaper online, so it might be worth pre-booking.
For more information, visit www.westminster-abbey.org
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