Westminster Abbey

Yes, I insisted on revisiting Westminster Abbey on my trip to London last month because of the royal wedding this morning. I hate to admit it, but I’m a sucker for the pageantry of it all. It’s one reason I love attending Catholic mass despite the fact that Protestant hymns are vastly superior.

In any case, it had been a long time since I had been inside. I was quite shocked by the entrance fee, which is £16, or about $25. As a rule, I have a problem with a church charging an entrance fee. There just seems to be something inherently wrong in that. And, when that church also asks that you respect the setting and not take pictures? That seems a bit like trying to have your cake and eat it too. In any case, the photos here are from the official website.

It was crazy crowded, which was a shame, because there really is a lot to see beyond just the architecture of the church itself. The audio guide is decent, but could give more detail. Of course, with so many people (and a friend waiting outside), I couldn’t really linger. Highlights include the Quire, the Chapel of Henry VII with the tombs of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, the Cloisters, and the Coronation Chair, which for restoration had been moved to near the Grave of the Unknown Warrior at the main entrance. Personally, I found Poet’s Corner a bit disappointing; it was too crowded, both with the dead and the living. My favorite piece by far was the monument by Louis François Roubiliac commemorating Lady Elizabeth Nightingale in the North Transept and Ambulatory. The figure of Death reaching out to grab her is incredibly moving.

All in all, despite the cost, I highly recommend a visit. The church is very beautiful and there is lots to see inside to make it worth the detour.

* Photos were taken from the official Westminster Abbey website.


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