13 Facts About Westminster Abbey


Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster.

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Westminster Abbey is the burial site of more than 3, 300 people, usually of prominence in British history: at least 16 monarchs, eight prime ministers, poets laureate, actors, scientists, military leaders, and the Unknown Warrior.

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Abbot and monks, being adjacent to the Palace of Westminster Abbey, became a powerful force in the centuries after the Norman Conquest, with the Abbot of Westminster Abbey taking his place in the House of Lords in due course.

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Westminster Abbey became the coronation site of Norman kings, but none were buried there until Henry III rebuilt it in the Anglo-French Gothic style as a shrine to venerate King Edward the Confessor and as a suitably regal setting for his own tomb, under the highest Gothic nave in England.

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Westminster Abbey was restored to the Benedictines under the Catholic Mary I, but they were again ejected under Elizabeth I in 1559.

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Westminster Abbey left instructions for the sides of his and his wife's coffins to be removed so that their remains could mingle.

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Westminster Abbey suffered minor damage during the Blitz on 15 November 1940.

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Coat of arms of Westminster Abbey, featuring the Tudor arms between Tudor roses above the attributed arms of Edward the Confessor.

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In 1905, the actor Sir Henry Irving was cremated and his ashes buried in Westminster Abbey, thereby becoming the first person to be cremated before interment at the abbey.

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The majority of interments are of cremated remains, but some burials still take place – Frances Challen, wife of Sebastian Charles, Canon of Westminster Abbey, was buried alongside her husband in the south choir aisle in 2014.

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Westminster Abbey is renowned for its choral tradition, and the repertoire of Anglican church music is heard in daily worship, particularly at the service of Choral Evensong.

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Chapter house and Pyx Chamber at Westminster Abbey are in the guardianship of English Heritage, but under the care and management of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster.

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Westminster Abbey Museum was located in the 11th-century vaulted undercroft beneath the former monks' dormitory.

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