Westminster Abbey

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

Westminster Abbey,

originally the abbey church of a Benedictine monastery (closed in 1539) in London. One of England's most important Gothic structures, it is also a national shrine. The first church on the site is believed to date from early in the 7th cent. It was erected by Æthelbert, king of Kent. Edward the Confessor began c.1050 the building of a Norman church, consecrated in 1065. In 1245, Henry III began to demolish the edifice and to build a new eastern portion, thus initiating centuries of construction. The fine octagonal chapter house was built in 1250, and in the 14th cent. the cloisters, abbot's house, and principal monastic buildings were added. The nave was completed in the 16th cent. Early in the 16th cent. Henry VIII finished the Lady Chapel, dedicated to Henry VII. This chapel, in Perpendicular style, is noted for its superb fan vaulting. The two western towers were built (1722–40) by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor. In the late 19th cent. Sir George Gilbert Scott supervised extensive restoration. From that time memorial statues by many academic Victorian sculptors have been added to the decor. The present church is cruciform in plan; both nave and transept have side aisles. The choir is apsidal in plan, and its ring of chapels exhibits the only complete chevet in England. French influence is also seen in the height of the nave, the loftiest in England, and in the strongly emphasized flying buttresses. Nearly every English king and queen since William I has been crowned in Westminster, and it is the burial place of 18 monarchs. England's most notable statesmen and distinguished subjects have been given burial in the Abbey since the 14th cent. In the Poets' Corner in the south transept rest the tombs of Chaucer, Browning, Tennyson, and other great English poets.


See descriptive and historical works by W. R. Lethaby (1906 and 1925), H. F. Westlake (1923), A. E. Henderson (1937), L. E. Tanner (1953), and E. Carpenter (1966); Council of Christians and Jews, The Corners of the Earth … Westminster Abbey in the 900th Anniversary Year (1966).

Westminster Abbey

abbey filled with tombs and memorials of famous British subjects. [Br. Hist.: EB, X: 632–633]
References in periodicals archive ?
We are delighted that in 2016 Larkin will take his place at the very cultural heart of the nation, in Westminster Abbey amongst Britain's greatest writers.
Teesside Army cadets, Ashley and Charlotte Connor, of Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, at Westminster Abbey for the VE day service
We are delighted that his extraordinary achievements are being recognised by this memorial at Westminster Abbey.
The Prince of Wales and the Queen during the Order of the Bath service at Westminster Abbey in London, <B yesterday Adrian Dennis
And perhaps that is the best metaphor coming from Westminster Abbey today.
After his death, South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela could become the first non-Briton (and first African) to be honored at a memorial service at Westminster Abbey, which has held the coronation for every British monarch since 1066.
A Fathers4Justice campaigner appeared in court yesterday accused of defacing a portrait of the Queen in Westminster Abbey.
At Westminster Abbey, where the Queen was crowned on June 2 1953, Britain's leaders, royals and members of the public gathered to honour her.
The Duke of Cambridge and a heavily pregnant Duchess of Cambridge will be among the 2,000-strong congregation at the celebration in Westminster Abbey in London.
Westminster Abbey You can see inside Westminster Abbey free of charge as the abbey never charges people who want to worship and evensong is a lovely service during which the choir sings.
THE funny thing about Pippa Middleton is that if you were inside Westminster Abbey for last year's royal wedding, then you did not even notice her, or her famous bottom.
Summary: Queen Elizabeth II attended a ceremony at London's Westminster Abbey to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, often considered the most influential book ever printed in English.