If you ask me, one of the very best things about living in the United…
Want a whirlwind course in English History? Head to Westminster Abbey.
The abbey isn’t just a church– it’s steeped in more than a thousand years of history. Benedictine monks first came to this site in the middle of the tenth century. To this day, their tradition of daily religious services continues.
The one big piece of advice I have for anyone visiting the abbey is to spring for a tour. Touristy? Sure, but it’s the best way to really learn about the details you might not normally notice if looking around on your own. It was worth every cent. Or pound. You know what I mean!
I learned so much on my last visit. The present church, whose construction started in 1245 by Henry III, is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the country, with the medieval shrine of an Anglo-Saxon saint still at its heart. You probably recognize it from a royal wedding or two, plus the last coronation (all the way back in 1952!), but it also houses beautiful paintings, stained glass, pavements, textiles and other artifacts.
What I found to be especially interesting is how many monarchs and famous Brits are actually buried (or at least memorialized) there! Charles Darwin… buried in a church?! Yep, I couldn’t believe it either. The tombs and memorials comprise the most significant single collection of monumental sculptures anywhere in the United Kingdom.
If you go, be sure to visit the poets’ corner, a section of the building that pays homage to some of Britain’s greatest poets, like Shakespeare and Chaucer. It was a cathartic experience for me. After all, they are partly to blame for my less-than-perfect high school GPA.