Sunday, June 29, 2008

7. Westminster Abbey

We will be taking a look at Westminster, but won't have a chance to tour the Abbey grounds. The site where British kings and queens are crowned, Westminster's history stretches nearly as far back as the Roman occupation of the island.

It's history dates back to 616, but it wasn't until the 10th century that a community of Benedictine monks took up residence at the site. The original stone abbey was built in 1045 and then rebuilt in the 13th century by Henry III, the first king to be interred at the abbey.

The coolest thing about the abbey (besides the magnificent history and architecture of the place) is the names of the "important" people interred here. They include Queen Elizabeth I, Henry V, Mary Queen of Scots, King Edward the Confessor, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Geoffrey Chaucer, Dr. Samuel Johnson, and many, many more. The list of writers and poets buried in the abbey are congregated most closely in the area known as Poet's Corner.

It's an interesting place, but also a wonderfully beautiful place. Walking through some areas of the abbey, you can transport yourself back to a quiet, simpler time. There are hidden parts of the abbey that still (in this commercialized and crazy world of ours) seem to be spiritually charged.

Indeed, it's tough to imagine that when you're handing your 12 quid over to get into the place, or when you walk through the gift shop and can buy a decorative Westminster key chain. With that said, you can still worship at Westminster, and that is completely free of charge.

The abbey is one of the most ancient sites in Greater London, and is a must see for any tourist.

Directions to Westminster Abbey: Take the District Line train to the Westminster tube station. Come out of the tube station take a right and the abbey will be on your left down the street a bit.

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