Location: Broad Sanctuary, SW1
General Admission Times:
NOTE: NO indoor photography allowed except on Wednesday evenings as posted!
All but two of the British monarchs have been crowned at Westminster Abbey since the coronation of William, Duke of Normandy, on Christmas Day in 1066. The Coronation Chair, made of oak, incorporates the Stone of Scone (on which Scottish kings were once crowned, but which was appropriated by Edward I in 1297 to demonstrate Scotland's subservience to the Crown of England.)
The fan-vaulted Chapel of the Order of Bath, built by Henry VII between 1503 and c. 1512, displays some of the magnificent work of the period and is used as the royal burial place. It contains the tombs of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, among 68 other royals.
Fan-vaulting on the ceiling of The Chapel of the Order of Bath
The Chapel of Edward II (the Confessor) and the Sanctuary are within the Ambulatory. The remains of many members of the nobility and church lie within other chapels surrounding the ambulatory. Poet's Corner is the final resting place for famous poets as far back as Chaucer. An unusually decorative altar tomb, dating from 1270 previously located within the Confessor's Chapel now stands near Poet's Corner. This altar tomb was was moved to its present location some 650 years ago when Richard II was buried and contains the remains of Henry III's disabled daughter and other royal children. Recent monuments commemmorate the Battle of Britain (in the Royal Air Force Chapel) of WWII, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of WWI, and the Churchill Stone of 1965.
Edward the Confessor, the last of the old English kings, began the rebuilding of the modest Benedictine abbey church of St. Peter, but died within 10 days of its consecration in 1065. The monks for whom he had built the abbey buried him within its walls. The actual spot in which he was interred is not far from the area where his remains now lie. Only the foundations of the original building comprise the current structure. 600 years of building, re-building and altering have completely changed the abbey's appearance. The general shape of the church is mostly due to Henry III's (1216-72) employment of Master Henry de Reyns to re-begin the Gothic abbey that we see today. The king was, however, unable to complete the work and building operations were subsequently continued into the 14th century by Master of the King's Works Henry Yevele. Yevele followed the original design closely, which is largely responsible for the appearance of the body of the structure to have originated in one architectural period.
Further work, continued by Henry VII (1485-1509,) resulted in the lovely Tudor Chapel with its delicate fan-vaulting and his tomb was commissioned between 1472 and 1528 by Henry VIII. The impressive northern rosette window was created for Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon in the 16th century.
The flying buttressed north facade including the Henry VIII rosette window (interior view: left, exterior view: right)
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