Updated: May 21, 2015

Westminster Abbey - History:

Besides St. Paul's Cathedral, the only other church in London that is a "must see" is Westminster Abbey. The abbey was founded over 1000 years ago and has a history that includes some of the great kings and queens of England as well as most recently holding funerals for Diana, Princess of Wales (1997) and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (2002). When you walk into this church you feel the presence of all that have come before you. I am not a religious man, but the history that surrounds the abbey is powerful and to miss this church on your visit to London would be a shame. Westminster Abbey is loaded with the tombs of famous men and women like Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Mary I, Henry VII, and Geoffrey Chaucer. The church was the site of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and to this day Westminster Abbey still offers daily prayer and worship for those that seek it. Since this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of London my advice is to get there early (when it opens) and try to beat the crowds that start forming by mid morning.


Just what is inside Westminster Abbey? Before you step inside the doors where photos and video filming are not allowed, make sure you get some pictures from the front entrance at the Great North Door. Admission is $12 GBP for adults and goes down for seniors and students. The good news is that unlike other attractions that require extra payment for the audio guides, they are FREE and definitely worth picking before you begin your tour. The audio handsets are the best way to see the abbey on your own time schedule and learn all about the history that is stored here. I would say give yourself a good hour to visit the abbey and perhaps more if you want to see every corner of it. As you enter make sure you get the audio hand set and it will guide as to where to start the tour of Westminster Abbey. Be sure to grab one of the brochures at the door and to get a visual of what the interior offers, see the MAP Here. You are first directed to the middle of the abbey towards the Quire. Then the tour takes you over to the Shrine of Sir Edward the Confessor and then on to Henry VII's Lady Chapel. Eventually the tour winds you through the Poets Corner and then outside to the Cloisters and then back into the Chapter House and eventually around the Cloister Garth back into the Nave where you finish the self guided tour. The audio tour highlights are the major tombs that are in the abbey and gives you a great historical timeline of British history. On a recent visit in March 2009 my tour took about 1 hour and it seems that I learn something new each time I visit. What I prefer to do is start up at Buckingham Palace and slowly make my way down Birdcage Walk towards Big Ben, the House of Commons, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. See the map below for the general area around the abbey.

Ticket Prices - Hours - Tours:

Westminster Abbey is open year round from Monday to Saturday, while Sunday is reserved for Worship only. Make sure you check with the schedule before making a visit as certain holidays like Christmas and Easter (no matter what day of the week) will keep the Abbey closed for worship only. The main Abbey church is open at 9:30AM and closing hours vary by day with Wednesday having the latest closing time of 7 PM. Admission is $12 GBP for adults but keep in mind that you get access to the audio tour guide hand set for free. There are guided tours led by vergers which cost an extra $3 GBP but are well worth the personal touch they offer. For a complete list of times and details of the guided tours go Online Here. The FREE audio guides are available in lots of different languages while the verger tours are in English only and limited to 25 people.

Getting There - Location:

The easiest way to get to Westminster Abbey is to take the Tube to the Westminster station (Jubilee, Circle & District lines). St. James Park subway stop is also nearby if that is more convenient. Again, I prefer to start up towards Buckingham Palace and walk down Birdcage Walk past St. James Park and into Parliament Square. The red London buses also run through this region all the time. You can get all the details on "getting to Westminster Abbey". Online Here. The map on this page is a little off in terms of perspective but you can't miss the Abbey once you arrive near this region.