Westminster Abbey

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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 ?
After the journey, we arrived at the entrance to Westminster Abbey.
Despite the country being in the grip of post-war austerity a glittering coronation was staged on June 2 the following year at Westminster Abbey.
Arbiter said yesterday: "There was love and adoration when they were driving back from Westminster Abbey.
The Duchess and Charles, who is patron of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association and marshal of the Royal Air Force later attended a reception at Church House near Westminster Abbey.
Some of Corbett's most famous jokes, including Four Candles, the class satire and the Mastermind sketch were played through Westminster Abbey.
Singer Katie Melua performs during the Service of Thanksgiving for Sir Terry Wogan at Westminster Abbey in London
Commonwealth Day is an annual ceremony at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the 53 countries which are a part of the commonwealth.
Later, speaking to the Dean of Westminster, he expressed his appreciation for this very special gesture by the Westminster Abbey for organizing, in advance, the solemn occasion to mark the National Day of Pakistan.
Teesside Army cadets, Ashley and Charlotte Connor, of Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, at Westminster Abbey for the VE day service
To dedicate a plaque to Hopkins in the Poets' Corner of the Anglican Westminster Abbey is to recognize his significance for the entire society, while a memorial in the Catholic Westminster Cathedral would be of interest mainly to Catholics.
A SPECIAL service is to be held at Westminster Abbey to dedicate a memorial for legendary Birmingham industrialist Matthew Boulton.
e live report was followed by a special candlelit service from Westminster Abbey marking the moment the First World War began.