Interesting facts about the historic Westminster Abbey, ahead of the King’s coronation
Hailed as one of the great architectural masterpieces of our times, Westminster Abbey has seen some sights.
If walls could talk this historic building would have some tales as British history seeps through the stone.
Every monarch since William the Conquerer has been crowned in the Abbey, except for Edward V and Edward VIII who abdicated. The ancient Coronation Chair is still in the Abbey.
And that tradition is set to continue this weekend with the historic crowning of King Charles III set to happen inside the hallowed walls.
Here is everything you need to know about the building.
When was Westminster Abbey built?
As told in the official Westminster Abbey history, the Abbey goes back as far as 960 AD. In the 1040s King Edward made himself a home in his royal palace by the banks of the river Thames. Next to it was a small monastery. King Edwards decided to enlarge and improve the church and named it ‘west minster’ to distinguish it as different from St Paul’s Cathedral.
Edward’s Abbey survived for two centuries until the middle of the 13th century when King Henry III decided to rebuild it in the new Gothic style of architecture.
Under the decree of the King of England, Westminster Abbey was designed to be not only a great monastery and place of worship, but also a place for the coronation and burial of monarchs, which it continues to do to this day.
How many monarchs have been crowned at Westminster Abbey?
Enshrined in the British history books, so much has happened here. It hosts the shrine of St Edward the Confessor, the tombs of kings and queens, and countless memorials to the famous and the great.
It has been the setting for every Coronation since 1066 and for numerous other royal occasions, including sixteen royal weddings.
Who got married at Westminster Abbey?
There have been a host of Royal Weddings at the Abbey. In 16 royal weddings have taken place in the Abbey and the tradition goes back nine hundred years - to Henry I who married Princess Matilda of Scotland in 1100 to more recently when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge married there in April 2011 to a full capacity of 2,000 spectators.
Late Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in April 1923.
Elizabeth II’s sister Princess Margaret was also married there in 1960.
Who’s buried at Westminster Abbey?
Westminster Abbey is the final resting place of thousands of influential people, from monarchs and consorts to poets, scientists and politicians.
Names of some buried there include Henry VIII’s fourth wife Anne of Cleves, scientist Sir Isaac Newton, geologist Charles Darwin and writer Charles Dickens.
It is also the final resting place of 30 kings and queens in the Royal Tombs starting with King Edward the Confessor.