Westminster Abbey was founded in 960 and has been the coronation church since 1066. It has witnessed 38 coronations and is the final resting place of 17 monarchs.
The present church was begun in 1245 by Henry III and is today one of the most important Gothic buildings in England.
The Abbey houses an extensive collection of treasures and precious artefacts. It is also the burial place or memorial site of some of the most important and famous people in English history: Chaucer, Dickens and Churchill to name but a few.
Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon’s coronation took place here on Sunday 24th June 1509. On the previous day the King and Queen had come from the Tower of London through the City to Whitehall. On the morning of the coronation they made their way to the Palace of Westminster and then walked to the Abbey in procession.
After the ceremony, there was a banquet in Westminster Hall, followed by days of jousting and feasting.
The coronations of Henry’s children: Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, also took place in this magnificent Abbey. It is possible to see the head of Mary I’s wooden effigy in the Abbey Museum. The original wax effigy carried on Elizabeth’s hearse was remade in 1760 and is also on display in the Abbey Museum.
It is also possible to see the coronation chair that was used in almost all ceremonies since Edward II in 1308. On sitting and pondering this amazing piece of history you are struck by the powerful realisation that you are in fact looking back in time.
The Abbey is a place that all Tudor fans- all history fans- should visit at least once in their lifetime.
The Cloisters- Westminster Abbey
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This page has been compiled using information from the history section of the Westminster Abbey official website.