Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic, church in the City of Westminster, London, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the most notable religious buildings in the United Kingdom and is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs.
According to a tradition first reported by Sulcard in about 1080, a church was founded at the site (then known as Thorn Ey (Thorn Island)) in the 7th century, at the time of Mellitus (d. 624), a Bishop of London. Construction of the present church was begun in 1245, on the orders of Henry III. Since 1066, when Harold Godwinson and William the Conqueror were crowned, the coronations of English and British monarchs have been held here. Since 1100, there have been at least 16 royal weddings at the abbey. Two were of reigning monarchs (Henry I and Richard II), although before 1919 there had been none for some 500 years.
Visiting Westminster Abbey
The architecture of Westminster is incredibly impressive from whatever angle you look. If you have just a few minutes, you can take a lap around the outside of the building and you’re sure to be impressed. If you have more time, you really shouldn’t miss the inside of this masterpiece. Book your ticket in advance online here for the best prices and to ensure that you get in! All entrance passes include a free audio tour.
For a truly English experience and to save a few extra pounds, try our bundle of entrance and audio tour to Westminster Abbey with afternoon tea.
20 Deans Yd
London SW1P 3PA
0044(0)20 7222 5152
Wednesday Lates: 4:30pm-6:00pm
Saturday (May to August): 9:00am-3:00pm
Saturday (September to April): 9:00am-1:00pm
Sunday: Open for services
Because the Abbey is an active church, certain areas are closed to visitors at different times. For the full schedule of opening times for each area, check the official website. The abbey may also be closed to visitors during national events or royal occasions.
Visitors travelling on the London Underground can use the District, Circle or Jubilee lines to get to Westminster station, which is fully wheelchair accessible. Victoria, Charing Cross and Waterloo mainline stations are about 20 minutes away by foot and have connecting buses.
Buses stop near Parliament Square in Victoria Street (opposite the Houses of Parliament) and further up towards Trafalgar Square, in Whitehall. All buses in London are now wheelchair accessible.
Members of the public cannot bring bicycles into the parliamentary estate. Public bicycle racks are a short distance away outside 7 Millbank. There are Cycle hire docking stations situated in Smith Square, which is a 5 minute walk away from Parliament, and on Abingdon Green, opposite Victoria Tower Gardens.
Travelling by car will often be subject to the congestion charge.
There is no designated area to drop off or pick up from the Houses of Parliament. If you need to do this, drivers can stop briefly just before the entrance to Victoria Tower Gardens, towards Millbank. Please be aware that, for security reasons, the police will quickly move you on.
There is an underground car park opposite the Houses of Parliament operated by Q-Parks which has 183 spaces. It benefits from a secure vehicle and pedestrian entrance with CCTV, customer toilets and is manned during the week.
Disabled parking spaces are located nearby in Great Peter Street, Smith Square, and by Methodist Central Hall on Matthew Parker Street. Meter parking is limited.
The Abbey is a working church and so some recommendations and guidelines are set in place to achieve balance between worship and visitors’ needs. Following are some points to be aware of before you visit.
Some areas of the Abbey may be dimly lit.
Much of the Abbey floor and steps are uneven so sensible footwear is advised.
Low doorways access to some chapels.
People with restricted mobility, hearing and sight can still enjoy services and are always welcome to come to the Abbey to worship. Abbey Marshals (in red gowns) and honorary stewards (at Sunday services) are always pleased to help you with any assistance you may require.
If you feel that any of the information in this section has not dealt with your special requirements we will be pleased to answer any queries or concerns that you may have.
VISITORS WITH CHILDREN
We warmly welcome children and young people to the Abbey – although we don’t recommend a visit for pre-school-age children. A Children’s Trail, in English, is available free at the information desk as you enter the Abbey, and children are able to dress up as monks in the Museum.
LAVATORIES AND BABY-CAREL
avatories are situated in the exit near Poets’ Corner.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND MOBILE PHONES
Photography and filming (pictures and/or sound) of any kind is not allowed in any part of the Abbey at any time. As a visitor, you are welcome to take pictures in the Cloisters and College Garden for personal use only. Postcards showing the interior of the Abbey are available to buy in the Abbey shop.
The use of mobile phones is permitted in the Cloisters and College Garden. Please keep mobile phones switched off within the Abbey church.
THE ABBEY SHOP
The Abbey shop is located outside the West Door as you exit the Abbey. A selection of souvenirs, postcards, books and gifts can be purchased.
Please remember when visiting us that Westminster Abbey is a Church and a place of daily worship. We ask our visitors to respect this, and to show sensitivity in the way they are dressed.
Very short shorts or skirts or very brief tops are not acceptable for ladies. Shirts and at least thigh-length shorts must be worn by gentlemen. We also request that gentlemen remove their hats while in Church.
There may be occasions when Abbey staff will ask visitors to wear a wrap if we think a visitor’s dress is not suitable for the Abbey
WEST GATE SECURITY
It is not be possible to enter Westminster Abbey, either for worship or as a visitor, with large or bulky items of luggage. Similarly, it is not possible to bring into services bags, rucksacks or suitcases that would not be classed as hand luggage on aircraft. Left luggage facilities are operated at Charing Cross and Victoria stations, both of which are within walking distance of the Abbey. The Dean and Chapter also reserve the right to search smaller bags before granting access to worshipers and visitors.