Westminster Abbey Frequently Asked Questions
Here you’ll find the answers to your questions about the famous Westminster Abbey, one of London’s most-popular historic landmarks.
When was Westminster Abbey built and finished?
The known origins of Westminster Abbey are estimated to be in the 960s or 970s when King Edgar established a fellowship of Benedictine monks at that location. It was initially known as St Peter’s Abbey.
Between 1042 and 1052, the ruling monarch, Edward the Confessor, began to rebuild the Abbey to create a royal burial church. Later, in 1245, construction of the present church began as instructed by Henry III who chose the site for his burial.
Who owns Westminster Abbey?
Westminster Abbey is a collegiate church of Saint Peter. It is a ‘Royal Peculiar’, meaning it is directly responsible to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom rather than a bishop. This was established by Queen Elizabeth I’s royal charter in 1560.
Where's Westminster Abbey?
Westminster Abbey is in the City of Westminster, London, standing west of the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament).
How close is Westminster Abbey to Big Ben?
Big Ben is part of the Palace of Westminster, which is a mere three-minute walk from Westminster Abbey.
How close is Westminster Abbey to London Eye?
On foot, the walk from Westminster Abbey to the London Eye or vice versa takes approximately twelve minutes via Westminster Bridge.
How to get to Westminster Abbey
If travelling by bus, take bus routes 99, 148, 159 or 211. By London Underground, take either the District, Circle or Jubilee lines to Westminster Underground Station.
Which tube station for Westminster Abbey?
Westminster Abbey’s nearest tube station is Westminster Underground Station, accessible by the Jubilee, Circle and District lines.
How big is Westminster Abbey?
The dimensions of Westminster Abbey are as follows. The nave width is 85 feet (26m), and its floor area is 32,000 feet or 3,000m2. The Abbey has two towers, with a height of 225 feet (69m).
Can you visit Westminster Abbey?
Yes, you can visit Westminster Abbey on most days. However, because the Abbey is a working church, there are times when some sections may be closed to the public.
Who's buried at Westminster Abbey?
Over 3,300 people are buried or memorialised at Westminster Abbey, including seventeen British monarchs and other people of note.
Who is buried in Westminster Abbey Poets’ Corner?
Poets’ Corner is a part of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey, so named due to the high number of playwrights, poets, and writers buried and memorialised there. Currently, they number over one hundred, including Charles Dickens, Wilfred Owen, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, and Chaucer.
Who is buried in Westminster Abbey standing up?
Dramatist and poet, Ben Jonson, is the only person every buried upright in Westminster Abbey.
Which royals married at Westminster Abbey?
There have been several Westminster Abbey famous weddings. Sixteen royal weddings in total have taken place in Westminster Abbey. The tradition dates back to 1100 when Henry I married Princess Matilda of Scotland.
Other notable royal weddings include Elizabeth II to Philip Mountbatten in 1947, her father King George VI in 1923, and her sister Princess Margaret in 1960. Most recently, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were married at the Abbey in April 2011.
Can you hire Westminster Abbey for weddings?
Sadly, if you’re not a member of the British royal family or the Order of the Bath, the chances of getting married at Westminster Abbey are low. Those living in the Abbey’s precincts are also permitted. Because of these restrictions, Westminster Abbey often hosts only a few weddings each year.
Is Westminster Abbey catholic?
Westminster Abbey is an Anglican Church, whereas Westminster Cathedral — located roughly 400 metres away — is a Roman Catholic Church.