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Westminster Abbey

Monday afternoon, I ventured back to Westminster to visit Westminster Abbey.  On our previous visit to London, we skipped it to focus on other tourist attractions, so I’ve been eager to see it, especially after “The Wedding of the Year”.

Remembrance Day crosses

As I approached the entrance, volunteers were setting up many miniature crosses with poppies in preparation for the Remembrance Day services this Sunday.  Beds of crosses were being laid out across the grounds of the Abbey.

In real life, the Abbey seemed smaller than I expected from what I have seen on TV.  For my hefty entrance fee, I was provided an audio tour, though it didn’t go into as much detail as I would have liked.  There were many tourists visiting while I was there, so it must be absolutely packed in the summer.

Of course, Westminster Abbey is famous as the burial site of many English monarchs, as well as the site of coronations, weddings, and funerals. Many other famous people are buried here, too, including Sir Isaac Newton, Chaucer, Dickens, and Charles Darwin.  Poets’ Corner is a who’s who of British literature.  In addition, musicians Georg Friedrich Handel, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Henry Purcell are buried at the Abbey, and there are memorials to Benjamin Britten and Edward Elgar.  This place is almost cluttered everywhere with these tombs, statues, and memorial markers.

One of the most moving memorials is the grave of the Unknown Warrior, located in the nave near the West Entrance.  It is a slab of Belgian marble surrounded by red poppies.

—  Photo by eviltomthai under creative commons license

Because I wanted more time to sit and absorb the atmosphere of the Abbey, I decided to attend Evensong.  I arrived early enough to sit in the choir stalls.  The service lasted about 40 minutes and was sung by the Lay Vicars, the 12 professional men who sing in the Westminster Choir along with 30 boys.  It was the perfect way to end a visit here.