The Abbey has been the coronation church since 1066. The construction of church that we see now began at the time of Henry III in 1245.
The Abbey is known for its burials. Seventeen kings had their tombs made here, including Henry VII and William III and Mary II.
Other 450 important figures were buried here too! The Poet’s corner has many tombs and memorials dedicated to important figures in English history.
Famous people buried in Westminster
- Charles Dickens
- Thomas Hardy
- Memorial of John Milton
- Memorial of John Keats
- Memorial of Percy Bysshe Shelley
- Isaac Newton
- Charles Darwin
- Oliver Cromwell (only his body, the head had a much more tragic story!)
- Memorial of T.S. Elliot
Many royal marriages have taken place here as well. The wedding of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton was celebrated here and was broadcasted in 180 countries!
The coronation ceremony
The coronation of a King or Queen in England is a state affair and it is celebrated with a great ceremony. The Archbishop of Canterbury has the duty of preparing the order of service.
At various times in the past the Abbey has been badly damaged by these preparations. A large number of galleries have been built to accommodate the congregation. In 1953, for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the Abbey was closed for five months to prepare the building to receive 8251 guests!
A book from the Middle Ages, called the Liber Regalis, is one of the great treasures of the Abbey’s archive and it provides strict orders on how to conduct the ceremony.