on April 15, 2013
Westminster Abbey is a wonderful church and still is very much used as a place of worship. It is also though, full of history as for centuries, the greatest people of our country have been buried here. There are memorials to statesmen, Prime Minsters, the great and good of the literary world and more. Added to that, every coronation since that of William the Conqueror in 1066 has been conducted here. So, there is definitely a lot to see and pack in during your visit.The building is magnificent - a mixture of architectural styles with wonderful stained glass windows. The original church was built in the 11th century by Edward the Confessor. He is buried in the little chapel behind the main altar. The building, as it is today, was begun in 1245 and completed in the late 1500's.As you begin to walk around, there are memorials to Disraeli and Darwin. Very close the the West Door is a memorial to Sir Winston Churchill. Look out in this area too for the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. This is so impressive and very moving. A group of school children were there during our visit having a tour, they also seemed awed by this grave. It has a really interesting story. A body was brought back from France after World War I - no-one ever identified it. They also brought back 100 barrels of French soil to bury him. The black marble slab is from Belgium and the gold lettering is from shell cases collected on the fields in France. This grave, with the unknown body, is a memorial to all soldiers lost in war. We next found an interesting memorial to Newton, then in the centre of the church is the shrine of Edward the Confessor. You can't go close to this, it is too fragile to cope with a lot of tourists.Scattered all around the Abbey are tombs of lots of royals including Henry V and Richard III. The tomb of Henry VII is extremely elaborate and decorative. It is fascinating that Elizabeth I and Mary I are buried together. The tomb of Mary Queen of Scots is also very interesting.You could spend ages in Poet's Corner. This is an assortment of memorials to the literary greats. Everyone from Chaucer to Dickens, Hardy, Tennyson and Kipling as well as the Brontes, Jane Austen and Dylan Thomas all have memorials here. I found this area so impressive. There is a wonderful statue of Shakespeare with his hand resting on a pile of books and a manuscript in his hand with Prospero's last words from the Tempest inscribed on it. There is also a large statue of Handel.Just before you leave the Abbey, you can see the Coronation Chair. Unfortunately during our visit it was covered over and was having work done on it. We did catch a glimpse of it though - it is amazingly ordinary looking.We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Abbey - there is so much to see and so much to absorb, you couldn't really take in everything, but a visit here will leave you inspired and your head bursting with new knowledge.
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