December 28: Westminster Abbey
On this day in the year 1065, Westminster Abbey was dedicated. It had been built by King Edward the Confessor to provide himself with a royal burial church. It has been expanded over the centuries and has been the site of all coronations of English and British monarchs since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066.
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Map of London and Vicinity
Map of London shows the location of Westminster Abbey just west of the Houses of Parliament. Map from the Maps ETC website.
View of Westminster Abbey from the West
A view of Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, which is almost always referred to by its original name of Westminster Abbey. Illustration published in 1901 from the ClipArt ETC website.
West Façade of Westminster Abbey
West façade of Westminster Abbey. The abbey was founded by Edward the Confessor when released from his vow to make a pilgrimage to the grave of St. Peter at Rome. Illustration from the ClipArt ETC website.
North Façade of Westminster Abbey
The north façade of Westminster Abbey from the ClipArt ETC website.
Henry III and His Barons
Henry III from the ClipArt ETC website. Henry began construction of the present church 1245.
Westminster Abbey Chapter House
The Chapter House was built under King Henry III between 1245 and 1253. This octagonal room was built in the Geometric gothic style. A pier of eight shafts carries the vaulted ceiling. Originally used by the monks for their daily meetings, it later became a meeting place of the King’s Great Council and the Commons. Illustration from the ClipArt ETC website.
Tomb of Elizabeth I
The tomb of Queen Elizabeth I is located in he north aisle of the Henry VII chapel in Westminster Abbey. Illustration from the ClipArt ETC website.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s Tomb at Westminster Abbey from the ClipArt ETC website. Chaucer, was buried at Westminster as he had apartments in the Abbey where he was employed as master of the King’s Works. Other poets, writers and musicians were buried or memorialised around Chaucer in what has become known as Poets’ Corner.
Illustration of the “Poet’s Corner” of Westminster Abbey from the ClipArt ETC website.
Coronation Chair from the ClipArt ETC website. Beneath the seat is the celebrated Scottish Stone of Scone, which was carried away from Scotland by Edward I. The Stone has been returned to Scotland, with the intention that it be returned to Westminster for future coronation ceremonies.
Major John André's Monument
Major John André’s monument in Westminster Abbey. André was executed as a spy by Americans in 1780. In 1821, his remains were returned to London and buried in Westminster Abbey. from the ClipArt ETC website.
Chatham’s monument at Westminster Abbey from the ClipArt ETC website. William Pitt the Elder, Earl of Chatham, was twice Prime Minister. The illustration represents the top portion of his monument. He stands above figures of Britannia, Nepture, a female figure of Earth, Prudence, and Fortitude.
Rose Window Tracery
The tracery (decorative stone support network) of the transept rose window in Westminster Abbey from the ClipArt ETC website.
The Jerusalem Chamber is a room in what was formerly the abbot’s house of Westminster Abbey. Henry IV of England died in the Jerusalem Chamber in 1413 and the Committee to write the Authorized (“King James”) Version of the Bible met there in 1611. Illustration from the ClipArt ETC website.
A seventeenth century coronation cope at Westminster Abbey. Illustration from the ClipArt ETC website.
Old English Letters
Old English lowercase letters from the tomb of Richard II, Westminster Abbey, about 1400. A selection of uppercase letters from the same tomb is also available from the ClipArt ETC website.
Monarchs and other Notables Buried within Westminster Abbey
From the time of Edward the Confessor until the death of George II in 1760, most Kings and Queens of England were buried in Westminster Abbey. Poets, national figures, and other national figures have also been honored with burial here. In all, approximately 3,300 people have been buried in the Abbey. The following are a few of the notable burials.
King James VI of Scotland / James I of England and Ireland
James VI and I (1566-1625) from the ClipArt ETC website. James was King of Scotland as James VI and King of England and Ireland as James I. The kingdoms of Scotland and England were individual sovereign states though both were ruled by James in personal union.
King Charles II of England, Scotland, and Ireland
Charles II (1630-1685) from the ClipArt ETC website.
King William III of England and Ireland / William II of Scotland
William III (1650-1702) from the ClipArt ETC website. William was King of England and Ireland as William III and King of Scotland as William II.
Queen Anne of Great Britain and Ireland
Anne from the ClipArt ETC website. Anne ruled from 1702 until 1707 as Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland. On 1 May 1707, under the Acts of Union, two of her realms, the kingdoms of England and Scotland, united as a single sovereign state known as Great Britain. She continued to reign as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland until her death.
King George II of Great Britain and Ireland
George II (1683-1760) from the ClipArt ETC website. He is the most recent monarch to be buried in Westminster Abbey.