WESTMINSTER ABBEY ULTIMATE GUIDE
Open: Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 9:30AM to 3:30PM
Wed: 9:30AM to 6:00PM
Sat: 9:30AM to 1:30PM
Time Needed: 2,5 hours
Nowadays, Westminster Abbey is perhaps best known for being the venue of Kate Middleton and Prince William’s spectacular royal wedding (which was viewed by over two billion people all over the world); but Westminster Abbey has a rich history that dates back nearly 1,000 years.
Sometime around 1050, Benedictine monks first travelled to the site where the Abbey sits today to set up a coronation church. The church was eventually expanded upon, and Westminster Abbey as we see it today was constructed between 1245 and 1272. Since then, it has been a key location for countless important events in English history, and some even believe it’s the most important Gothic church in England.
Not only is Westminster Abbey still used as an active place of worship, it also serves as a fascinating historical museum, as well as the final resting place of some of the most notable people in England’s history.
Out of all the attractions to see inside the Abbey, no two are as popular as the Royal Tombs and Poet’s Corner sections, which contain the tombs of Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, as well as Charles Dickens, Robert Burns, T.S. Eliot, John Keats, and many, many more. Other notable tombs include those of Charles Darwin, and thousands of others ranging from famous prime ministers and politicians, to industrialists and even actors.
The oak door near the Abbey’s Chapter House is also an important attraction inside Westminster Abbey. It is said to be the only surviving Anglo-Saxon door in England, and can be dated all the way back to the time of Edward the Confessor (sometime between 1032 and 1064 AD).
There are also three gardens within Westminster Abbey (The Garth, The Little Cloister and College Garden and St. Catherine’s Garden). College Garden has been cultivated for over 900 years, and visitors can still see its original stone precinct wall today (at the far end on the eastern side), which was built in 1376.
If you want to avoid the long queues and/or large crowds, head to Westminster Abbey on a Wednesday afternoon.
Before you visit, download the free Westminster Abbey audio tour app on iTunes to learn more about the various attractions inside the Abbey
If you're only in London for a short period of time and want to see as many attractions as possible, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are only a one-minute walk away, and it's a beautiful 15-minute walk to Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey as well.
If you're travelling to London by train, make sure you take advantage of the railways 2-for-1 entrance promotion. The promotion is only valid for visitors with walk-up tickets and the longest wait times.
20 Deans Yd, London SW1P 3PA, United Kingdom (See map).
The nearest underground stations are St. James's Park (a five-minute walk away) and Westminster (also a five-minute walk away).
The nearest stations are Victoria (an 18-minute walk away) and Waterloo (a 16-minute walk away).
Routes 11, 24, 88, 148 and 211 pass the Westminster Abbey entrance. Routes 3, 12, 53, 53X, 87, 88, 109, 159 and 453 also stop nearby.
Be advised that there are no parking facilities at Westminster Abbey. The closest car park is located on Great College Street, which is a three-minute walk away from Westminster Abbey.
Visitors are kindly asked to dress in a “respectful manner” during their visit to the Abbey, especially if they wish to sit in on worship services like Morning Prayer, Evensong and the Eucharist. During the winter months the Abbey can get incredibly, so try to dress warmly and wear comfortable walking shoes; (especially as you may be standing outside in a queue for up to one hour during the busy periods).
Visitors will not be allowed to enter the Abbey with large or bulky items; (if you need to leave your luggage somewhere, there are facilities at both the Charing Cross and Victoria stations). Be aware that your bag may be searched by security personnel upon entry.
Photography, filming and the use of mobile phones inside the Abbey is strictly forbidden, however visitors will be allowed to take photographs and use their mobiles in the Cloisters and College Garden.
If you need some refreshments during your visit, the Cellarium Cafe and Terrace is open Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., or Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Be prepared to wait in a queue for as long as an hour during holidays, weekends or afternoon hours. To avoid the queues it may be a good idea to go to Westminster Abbey at least 30 minutes before opening times.
Westminster Abbey is open from:
Admission tickets cost:
Children under the age of five are allowed to enter for free as long as they are accompanied by an adult.
All visitors will be provided with a hand-held free audio guide when they enter through the North Door, so they can tour Westminster Abbey at their own pace and hear more about the various attractions inside the Abbey.
If you are interested in going on a tour inside Westminster Abbey, there are Verger-led tours which start at the North Door, and last for about 90 minutes. The tours visit the Shrine (which includes the tomb of Saint Edward the Confessor), the Royal Tombs, Poet’s Corner, the Cloisters and the Nave.
The tours cost £5 per person (in addition to the entrance charge). If you want to go on a tour it is highly recommended that you arrive at the Abbey extra early, as the tours are limited to 20 people at a time.
The tours are scheduled at:
10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. on Saturdays (October to March)
The Abbey is only open for worship on Sundays, as well as religious holidays like Easter and Christmas. On these days, visitors are welcome to attend services for free, but will not be allowed to roam around the Abbey on their own. Visitors will also be asked to provide donations to the Abbey, and all proceeds will go towards nominated organizations and charities. To view the scheduled service times on Sundays or religious holidays, visit the Abbey’s official website.
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