It almost goes without saying that Westminster Abbey is one of the foremost sites in Europe when it comes to being steeped in history. Dating back to the reign of William the Conqueror and the Norman conquest, Westminster Abbey has traditionally been the site of royal coronations, royal weddings, and royal burials, and anyone who enters can instantly feel that they are walking in the footsteps of some of the most influential figures in history, from Henry III to Queen Elizabeth I.
Of course, Westminster Abbey is also far more than a place for royalty. As the English became to more intimately associate the site with their history and culture, luminaries from all walks of life have also been interred there, from Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton to Rudyard Kipling and Charles Dickens. Along with effigies, plaques, and various other monuments, walking through Westminster Abbey offers its own sort of crash course on England over the centuries.
While Westminster Abbey has been an important site for nearly 1,000 years, it is perhaps unsurprising that it has had a volatile history, a byproduct of England's own tumultuous past. As a religious site first and foremost, the Abbey was at the forefront of the religious unrest that occasionally swept the British Isles, whether it was Henry VIII's formation of the Church of England or his devoutly Catholic daughter earning the sobriquet Bloody Mary. As a result of it all, the Abbey has served different religious purposes over the course of time as well.
Westminster Abbey: The History of England's Most Famous Church looks at the history of the church from the Middle Ages to today and offers a tour of the different things that visitors will find there.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors