Along with the UNESCO sites at Stonehenge and the Tower of London, I also got a chance to see Westminster Abbey on my visit to London this month. It was so windy and I was coming down with a vicious cold, so bad that I nearly skipped it when I saw how long the line to get in was going to be.
Of course, Westminster is a must-see site in the city, even if you only have two days in London, so I couldn’t skip it. Saturday morning is not the ideal time to visit, my friends, but I was on a tight schedule because of work. After downing a croissant and a diet coke, I felt much better and braved the thirty-minute line, where I ended up chatting with a very lovely woman who lives in the Philly suburbs. The world is always smaller than you think.
I only saw the Palace of Westminster and Saint Margaret’s Church from the outside. Saint Margaret’s is currently under scaffolding for a restoration project.
From UNESCO’s description:
The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church lie next to the River Thames in the heart of London. With their intricate silhouettes, they have symbolised monarchy, religion and power since Edward the Confessor built his palace and church on Thorney Island in the 11th century AD. Changing through the centuries together, they represent the journey from a feudal society to a modern democracy and show the intertwined history of church, monarchy and state.
The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church continue in their original functions and play a pivotal role in society and government, with the Abbey being the place where monarchs are crowned, married and buried. It is also a focus for national memorials of those who have served their country, whether prominent individuals or representatives, such as the tomb of the Unknown Warrior. The Abbey, a place of worship for over 1000 years, maintains the daily cycle of worship as well as being the church where major national celebrations and cultural events are held. The Palace of Westminster continues to be the seat of Parliament.
Photography is not allowed inside, and there are guards posted everywhere who stop most of it. I managed to get in a few good snaps of Poet’s Corner, but it wasn’t possible to take pics of many of the things I would have liked to. I don’t agree with places that ban photography (other than banning the use of flash), and I follow the rules selectively based on the situation.
I had been looking forward to my visit all week, but I left a little empty. Maybe it was the oncoming cold, but while I thought Westminster Abbey was beautiful and at times, very poignant, the cost (20 pounds) combined with the fact that it was completely packed and there were guards everywhere, I left without having any kind of emotional or spiritual connection to the place. I would definitely recommend a visit for all lovers of history because it’s teeming with it. And I don’t know how I would feel if I had missed out on Poet’s Corner, so I can’t say I wish I would have skipped it. What I will say is that visually, Westminster Abbey is overwhelming, but emotionally I was left wanting more.
England Travel Resources
- London Packing List for All Seasons
- My Tip 10 Super Awesome Surprise London Adventures
- The 12 British Phrases the Have Taken Over My Brain
- Visiting the Tower of London
- The History of Windsor Castle (podcast episode)
- Visiting Stonehenge