Westminster Abbey – Church of Royalty
Westminster Abbey, the Church of Royalty! This church has been in service since 1065 and has seen 40 Coronations in its halls and nearly 20 Royal weddings! Since 1560, the church has had the status of a “Royal Peculiar”, a church responsible directly to the Sovereign!
Like many people, the idea of visiting a church is not high on my list of fun things to do, yet, this church is different.
Besides it’s stunning architecture and the fact that it is the Church of the Sovereign, there are many other hidden gems that makes a visit well worth it!
Take, for example, the statue of St Wilgeforte. She is a favourite saint of women who wanted to be liberated from abusive husbands. The saint was said to have grown a beard after praying to become repulsive to escape a forced marriage. What a clever idea!
The 5ft Statue of our Lady of the Pew is hollowed out of the thickness of the north wall of Westminster Abbey. This tiny space was dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the 1300s and it was said that King Richard II prayed here before riding out to confront Wat Tyler and the Peasants’ Revolt.
There is even a statue of Lady Nightingale which I find intriguing. This monument was placed in Westminster Abbey to honour the Great British Nurse.
The best piece of artwork that I’ve found in Westminster Abbey was in the Lady Chapel of Henry VII. Since 1308 almost every monarch has been crowned on the famous Coronation Chair. However if you look closely you will notice that it is covered in graffiti! The work of schoolboys and other visitors in the 1700s and 1800s. I bet those boys were either very proud of their work, or suffered remorse for the rest of their lives!
Royal Weddings held in Westminster Abbey
The first royal wedding in the Abbey took place in 1100 when King Henry I married Matilda of Scotland. King Richard II’s wedding in 1382 to Anne of Bohemia was the last one for almost 500 years. Princess Patricia of Connaught then married the Honorable Alexander Ramsay in 1919.
Royal weddings at Westminster Abbey after this included:
- Princess Mary Princess Mary to Henry, Viscount Lascelles (later the 6th Earl of Harewood) in 1922.
- King George VI (then Prince Albert) to the Queen Mother in 1923.
- Queen Elizabeth II to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1947.
- Princess Margaret to Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960.
- Princess Anne to Mark Phillips in 1973.
- Prince Andrew to Sarah Ferguson in 1986.
- Prince William to Catherine Middleton in 2011.