We headed to Westminster Abbey via the Thames from the Tower of London. On the ferry, we traveled under famous London bridges – Tower Bridge, Millenium (aka Harry Potter) Bridge and got our first glimpse of Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben. It was undergoing renovations so it was covered in scaffolding.
It was just a short walk from the pier to Westminster Abbey and when we arrived, the line into the Abbey was very long and was still raining. Photography of any sort is not permitted inside the Abbey, so this post is a little light on pics but here are some outside shots.
Tip: order the guidebooks when you buy your entry tickets online. #1 you’ll save a bit of money and #2 you’ll have photos when you’re not allowed to take your own.
We had tickets to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries. This is an attic-like space above the Abbey that was actually hidden from the public for over 700 years! It is chock-full of artifacts of British monarchy dating back 1000 years. Staring at the actual funeral effigy King Henry VII was remarkable and don’t get me started on the marriage license of Prince William and Kate Middleton. My calligraphy-and-royal-loving heart couldn’t take it! You are also able to peer over the open balconies for the most breathtaking view down onto the Abbey! I admit, again, I lost my mind at this sight and the tears started rolling again. 🙂 No photos allowed though, so I’m not able to share this view, unfortunately.
To get your own glimpse, click HERE for the official video about the Queen’s Jubilee Galleries.
Back downstairs the Abbey was very crowded, so it was a bit of a challenge to see everything. We somehow managed to miss Poet’s Corner completely!! It’s also a particularly tight squeeze to get in and around the area where Queen Elizabeth I is buried but still a must if you’re into Tudor history. Her sister, Queen Mary, is also buried with her but if you didn’t know it, you might miss it, so keep your eyes peeled. So much drama from this time in history! Amazing to see these things with our own eyes. Truly amazing!
The cloisters are full of different memorials and plaques and this one is dedicated to Captain James Cook, Sir Francis Drake and Sir Francis Chichester who all circumnavigated the globe. Captain James Cook in the 1700s is credited with being the first European to land in Botany Bay – the area where I grew up on the east coast of Australia.
As we were leaving the Abbey, we stopped by the Coronation Chair sitting in its own little protected room on the way out. By now, the crowds had dissipated so we were able to take our time staring at it through the glass. Such a treat to be able to see the real thing! Then, we walked out the big arched doors with the gift shop on our left and I was struck by the familiar view. As I looked back, I realized I was standing where Kate Middleton entered the Abbey to marry Prince William. Ahh! May not be a big deal for most people but it was a total fairytale moment for me. Hehe!
Again, we could have spent an entire day exploring Westminster Abbey. There is something to look at and learn about literally from floor to ceiling! I actually got a bit dizzy trying to see it all and walk at the same time. You also have to be careful and dodge the tourists who purchased the audio guides. They spend so much time staring at those silly devices, they will just stop in front of you. I’m sure they are getting a lot of good info, but goodness me…look at the real thing instead of a pic on a screen!
After the Abbey we quickly popped in to see the relatively new UK Supreme Court. We were able to wander around freely after going through security and even sit in one of the courtrooms. Then we jumped on the Tube to Soho to catch up with a dear friend over a delicious Mediterranean dinner before he dropped us off at the National Portrait Gallery.