on August 8, 2012
I have always contented that Westminster Abbey is in second place when it comes to London’s great religious buildings. I have always preferred St Paul’s. Part of this is the rather childish fact that my name is Paul and from that I have somehow gleaned a more personal connection to St Paul’s. The second reason is steeped in a little more historical logic. Two of Britain’s great heroes of the Napoleonic era, Nelson and the Duke of Wellington, are buried at St Paul’s. This seemed like the greatest endorsement possible.However, my personal foibles notwithstanding, Westminster Abbey remains a magnificent sight. Not that the architecture was the first thing that gripped my girlfriend when we visited. She was more interested in the fact that it was the location for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It was also home to the nuptials of the Duke of York and Sarah Ferguson as well as Mark Phillips and the Princess Royal, but she had far less interest in these (as you might imagine).I found Westminster Abbey a little unusual as I was not exactly sure where to look. There are two magnificent entrance on the north and west facades. The western entrance is perhaps the more famous and is the more modern addition having been added in the 1700s. It looks classically beautiful and towers over much of the Westminster area. However, I much preferred the northern entrance, which dates back beyond the Elizabethan and is wonderfully gothic.We arrived at Westminster Abbey quite late on a summer evening. The sun was just beginning to dip, which meant that the long shadows cast by the abbey and the surrounding trees gave it a wonderfully ominous feel. I found myself transfixed by the worn and battered façade and felt the history of the place flowing down from the walls. With the quality of the light and scarcity of people I imagined that was what it might have been like in the Middle Ages.Sadly, Westminster Abbey is like St Paul’s. It charges the extortionate amount of 16GBP for entrance. Considering it is both a religious venue and a national institution I found this a little disgraceful. To get there, take the underground to Westminster.
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