May 8, 2023
Westminster Abbey in London, England
Westminster Abbey, a landmark church in central London, England, has been an iconic part of the city’s history for centuries. The abbey, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, has been the coronation site of English and British monarchs for nearly a thousand years and is notable as the burial site of many of England’s most renowned historical figures.
Together with the nearby Palace of Westminster and St. Margaret’s Church, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must for travelers interested in English architecture, history, literature and the British monarchy.
Artisans of Leisure can arrange privately guided tours of Westminster Abbey and other renowned sites in London as part of our luxury England tours.
Highlights of visiting Westminster Abbey include the soaring, vaulted nave and quire (an alternative spelling of “choir”), where abbey choristers still sing at daily services.
The heart of the abbey has been the majestic setting of royal and state occasions for centuries. Although the present quire dates to the 19th century, it is in the same location as the original medieval stalls.
Not to be missed is the incredible Cosmati Pavement, the intricate mosaic floor in front of the High Altar that dates to the 13th century…
… the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, the burial place of an unidentified soldier killed in France during World War I…
…and the ancient Coronation Chair, used in every coronation since the early 1300s. Coronations are one of the most significant events in the abbey; every English monarch (except two) has been crowned here since William the Conqueror in 1066.
The Lady Chapel (also known as the Henry VII Chapel), an exquisite example of late English Gothic architecture, is one of the abbey highlights. Commissioned by Henry VII in 1503, it’s celebrated for its spectacular fan-vaulted ceiling.
The large chapel also contains a number of significant royal tombs, including Henry VII, Elizabeth I, Mary I, and Mary, Queen of Scots.
Poets’ Corner, where notable literary figures such as Chaucer, Dickens, Austen, Tennyson and more are interred or memorialized, is a pilgrimage place for English literature lovers.
Other notable historical figures buried in Westminster Abbey include the composer Handel, scientists Newton, Darwin and Hawking, explorer David Livingstone and actor Laurence Olivier.
Other highlights of Westminster Abbey include the medieval cloisters…
…Britain’s Oldest Door (dated to the 1050s), adjacent to the 13th-century Chapter House where monks held regular meetings…
…and the Pyx Chamber, a storage room that dates to around 1070 and is one of the oldest surviving parts of the Abbey.
Upon request, we can arrange for interested travelers to visit the abbey’s 900-year-old garden, thought to be the oldest garden in England; and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries.
A state-of-the-art exhibition space that opened in 2018, the galleries are located in medieval rooms over the nave, offering spectacular views and a permanent exhibition of the abbey’s treasures.
Contact Artisans of Leisure to begin planning a private England tour featuring the highlights of London, including Westminster Abbey and other renowned sites such as the Tower of London, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum, Buckingham Palace and more.