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.

Westminster Abbey, Edward III tomb. By Herry Lawford Westminster Abbey, Poets Corner. By Herry Lawford
Westminster Abbey, exterior. By Aaron Bradley Westminster Abbey, exterior. By Alexis Brett Westminster Abbey, interior

Westminster Abbey Highlights

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.

Special Tips

  • 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.