Sunday, March 2, 2014

Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret's Church, London

We wanted to see Westminster Abbey but were turned off by three things: the price, no photography allowed inside, and the long line to get in. So we opted to see the outside and go inside St. Margaret's Church, which is right next to the Abbey and free to get in (though it also does not allow photos inside).

Westminster Abbey

The Abbey entrance line

The line of history stretches back to the 900s when the Benedictines established the abbey. Westminster became important as the place of coronations when William the Conqueror was crowned King of England on Christmas Day in 1066. Queen Elizabeth II's coronation was the first to be televised. Many monarchs as well as statesmen, poets, artists, and scientists are buried in Westminster. It truly is a central point for English history.

The east end of the abbey

St. Margaret's Church sits just outside Westminster. The present building is the third church built on the spot. The first was built in the 1100s so the monks could provide the sacraments to local people in the church rather than in the abbey. The monks then prayed in peace. The third church was completed in 1523 and includes some impressive stained glass, including the window donated by Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. It is over the main altar where Sir Walter Raleigh is buried. Many splendid tombs and memorials are found inside.

St. Margaret's Church

In 1614 it became the chapel for the House of Commons and is still used today for worship and for musical concerts.

The church also has a fine bell/clock tower.

St. Margaret's Tower

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