Our Blue Badge Tour Guide, Suzanne, provided the most interesting historical account and tour of Westminster Abbey. The present church begun in 1245 by Henry lll and is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the country. Our group assembled by the Millicent Garrett Fawcett statue in Parliament Square and then made our way to the Abbey and entered by the West door.
The architecture is stunning inside and the Nave the highest in England. The magnificent Lady Chapel has the most beautiful pendant fan vault ceiling. It was extraordinary to see tombs and stones commemorating the many famous people who are buried at Westminster Abbey e.g. Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, Edward the Confessor, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawkins. Other fascinating areas included the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, buried on armistice day in 1920 and Poets’ Corner where famous poets, writers and playwrights are buried.
The history of Westminster Abbey is remarkable as Benedictine monks first came to the site, where an Augustinian monastery was founded, in 960AD. It has been the coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of 17 monarchs. We saw King Edward’s Chair, (Coronation Chair), the throne that every British monarch sits on during their coronation. Our reigning Queen Elizabeth ll was crowned on King Edward’s Chair.
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, which opened in June 2018, are over 52 feet above the Abbey’s floor in the medieval triforium which is an area never available to the public before. We could observe 300 treasures from the Abbey’s collection, reflecting the 1000 year history, and experience the most breathtaking views of all below due to the exposed beams and open nature of the construction. Everyone was quite overwhelmed and we adjourned for lunch at Wesley’s cafe across the road to reflect on the day.