Britain - Photo and History Pages



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Westminster Abbey,  London



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Medieval Abbeys (monastic foundations) which became Cathedrals (see map)


Canterbury   Winchester   Durham   Ely   Norwich   Worcester   Rochester   Bath Abbey   Carlisle



Medieval Secular foundations (see map)

built specifically as cathedrals by church and town authorities


York Minster   Lincoln   Salisbury   Exeter   Chichester   Lichfield   Wells   Hereford   Saint Paul's London (destroyed in 1666 in the Great Fire of London)



Henry VIII's New Cathedrals c1540 (not shown on map)

(All previously monastic foundations)


Westminster Abbey (briefly)   Peterborough   Oxford   Gloucester   Bristol   Chester



Westminster Abbey - only a cathedral for ten years (1546 - 1556) of its long life, but most people think of it as one.  The tower on the right is not part of the abbey - it belongs to the Houses of Parliament.


The Abbey contains one of the few medieval cathedral shrines to survive Henry VIII's wreckers intact - that of Saint Edward - aka King Edward "the Confessor" c1004 - 1042 - 1066 (62) son of Ethelred the Unready and Patron Saint of England until George came along, and the tombs of a dozen kings and queens of England including Edward himself, Henry III (d1272), Edward I (d1307) and his Queen, Eleanor (of Eleanor Crosses fame), Edward III (d1377), Richard II (d1399), Henry V (d1422), Edward V (d1483), Henry VII (d1509), Edward VI (d1553), Mary I (d1558), Elizabeth I (d1603) and Charles II (d1658), plus hundreds of other greater and lesser people.


Link to English Kings and Queens from 802 AD to the present


Link to the Abbey's Web Site

Westminster Abbey website - links to information on the Royal Tombs in the Abbey







Sadly there is no great crossing tower like those at Canterbury and Lincoln.


Westminster Abbey Cloister





The Quire (looking west) is just one of the magnificent "open spaces" in the Abbey, which of course is also filled with a lot of pokey spaces (or chapels) packed with more tombs than any other church in Britain.



The Nave, with the grave of the Unknown Warrior in the foreground.


The ultimate English architectural glory - Henry VII's Lady Chapel - the flags are those of the present day Knights Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath. 


Follow this link to see who the Knights are and enjoy their taste in crest design



The Coronation Chair (which is in front of the tomb of Henry V)


The Shrine of Saint Edward (aka King Edward the Confessor (c1004 - 1042 - 1066)).  The lower part dates from the 1200s but the bit on top is younger.




Copy of the Westminster Abbey tomb sculpture of Henry III in the V & A Museum, London





Gisant on the tomb of Queen Eleanor of Castile (c1240 - 1290 (50))


Link to Eleanor Crosses pages


This bronze effigy was made by master William Torel, who actually made two - one for Westminster and one for Lincoln Cathedral.  The original Lincoln bronze has gone (though it has has been replaced with a copy), but the surviving Westminster bronze, cast in one piece, is now one of the earliest large scale bronzes in England.  It is recorded that 350 gold florins were purchased from the merchants of Lucca for the gilding.  By contrast, hubby Edward I (1239-1272-1307 (68)) did not get any effigy on his plain sarcophagus.


For over 200 years (presumably till jolly Henry VIII closed Westminster Abbey and Monastery down in the 1530s and nicked all their assets) "dole" money was handed out by the almoners of Westminster Abbey to the poor on each anniversary of Queen Eleanor's death - 28 November.


This photo comes from "Edward I - A Great and Terrible King" by Marc Morris

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Copy of the Westminster Abbey tomb sculpture of Eleanor of Castile in the V & A Museum, London



Funeral effigy of Henry VII (1457-1485-1509 (52)) - inventor of the Tudor Dynasty.  The effigy, in the museum of Westminster Abbey, is thought to have been modelled on a death mask.  Henry also appears in the V & A (below) and adorns the facade of Bath Abbey.



Queen Elizabeth I (1533 - 1558 - 1603 (70)) the last monarch of the Tudor Dynasty - contemporary portrait now in Westminster School which is located in the abbey close.










Queen Elizabeth I (1533 - 1558 - 1603 (70)), whose tomb is shared uncomfortably by her half sister Queen Mary (1516 - 1553 - 1558 (42))





Portrait of Richard II (1367-1377-1399 (33)) - the first posed lifelike portrait of an English King.  It's actually quite big, but not many people notice it as it (in 2005) faces the West Door exit, is difficult to see because of the reflected light from its glazing, and there is no explanation of why it is interesting.






Postcard showing the tomb of Sir Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727 (85))







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This is the fascinating "Historical Guide".  If you want a complete location list of the hundreds of tombs and memorials, go for the "Official Guide" as well.


Link to the Abbey's Web Site






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Several of the images used above have been taken from guide books, postcards and other published material as the abbey strictly enforces a no photography rule inside.  All original material Adrian Fletcher  2000-2015 - The contents may not be hotlinked, or reproduced without permission.