on April 12, 2013
Westminster Abbey in my opinion is an absolute must-see if you are visiting London. Not only is it a truly beautiful church, it has so much history and there are so many things to see and do, you will come away inspired.It is open every day between 9.30 and 3.30 - I think Sundays may be slightly different due to church services. Although the opening hours state 3.30 closing time, they do not ask you to leave until closer to 4.30. We arrived around half past two, saw a queue outside the door and were concerned, firstly that we would not get in and secondly that we would not have time to see everything. Fortunately we were proven wrong on both counts - the queue moved fast and took last than 5 minutes, we also had plenty of time to look around before leaving at 4.30.The best tube stations are either Westminster or St James Park. Admission costs were, I thought, a little pricey. It costs £18.00 for adults and £8.00 for children. The first chargeable child with 2 adults though is free, this was good for us. The entrance fee includes use of an audio-guide. They rely on admission fees from visitors to cover the running costs. Apparently they receive no money from government or any other bodies - it must be hugely expensive to maintain the church so you don't feel so bad about paying £18.00There are verger tours which are optional. I think there is a slight extra charge for these. We arrived just as one had started, so were not able to join in. We overhead the verger at different times during our visit and his tour sounded really good - informative and lively and also fun. I wish we had been able to do this.That said though, we did really value the audio guide. It was narrated by the actor Jeremy Irons and was excellent - full of useful facts and invaluable for looking around. They have children's audio guides too, but there were none available when we wanted one. Our son made do with the adult guide and was happy enough with that. They also have children's trail sheets near the entrance - do get one of these if you have children. They are fun but packed with great facts about the history and what to see. If your child completes it and takes it to the gift shop at the end, their reward is a chocolate coin.You are not allowed to take any photographs or video at any time once inside the Abbey. You can take pictures in the cloisters and outside, so make the most of that opportunity.The staff are very knowledgeable and most of them are helpful. I found a few were a little abrupt, but they are in the minority. Most were willing to answer any questions.As well as exploring the Abbey, you can also walk through the cloisters and visit the Abbey Museum. In the museum are some royal relics - they have the effigies of Edward II and Henry VII. These were used instead of the real corpses for lying in state ceremonies - gruesome!! In the museum they have a dressing up section - children can dress up as monks, then you can go into the cloisters and take their photo.We spent 2 hours in the Abbey - the time flew past, but we saw everything we wanted to. It was extremely busy during our visit - this does seem to be the norm though - but we did not find the crowds unbearable. It is a wonderful place to explore and I definitely recommend it.
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