Ever since I went to a prayer service in Westminster Abbey a few weeks ago, I have been dying to go back for a proper tour. And today I can finally put a check mark next to the building that was in my top three places to visit in London (the first two being the Tower and Buckingham Palace).
When I first went to the Abbey for a prayer service, I was struck by the sheer size of it. About 50 people attended the service but it felt like less since the space was so large. And this gigantic space? Nothing more than a hallway in the Abbey.
So this second time around, I was prepared for the size, but I didn’t brace myself for the tombs and monuments. So many people of all different nations and backgrounds!
Under the Lady Chapel’s lace-like ceiling were the tombs of Henry VII and his wife. Next to this chapel was a stained-glass window of an American flag next to another colored window with a moose that was supposed to represent Canada. Then in the Poet’s corner laid the graves of Chaucer, Dickens and Handel.
But what I found the most ironic were the graves of Tudor queens, Mary I, Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. These three contemporaries were all rivals in life (Elizabeth I even ordered the execution of Mary Queen of Scots), but they are now buried next to each other in the same chapel under similar monuments.
And Oliver Cromwell, the leader of the rebellion against the British monarchy, has his own memorial in this building that holds the Coronation Chair—the chair that every British monarch has been enthroned since 1308 AD.
But my favorite part of the entire Abbey was a little door in a hall that had a sign in front of it that read: Britain’s oldest door.
I love how well the British have persevered their history and traditions. Even a small wooden door amid all the splendor of kings and queens has its own special place.