The diamond of Westminster Abbey: organ services

The diamond of Westminster Abbey: organ services

When sightseeing in London, tourists visit Westminster in addition to the world-famous Buckingham Palace. The very name “Westminster” combines the two main buildings – the Houses of Parliament and the Abbey – as if to separate the secular from the spiritual. Naturally, no outsiders are allowed into the British Parliament, however, a tour of Westminster Abbey, located on Abbey Road, is a truly magnificent experience.

The Abbey consists of many buildings and structures – the bell tower, statues, chapter house, courtyard. The most striking and memorable place here is St. Margaret’s Anglican Church (built in honor of St. Margaret of Antioch). This church is made especially for the laity, because several centuries ago only monks could visit Westminster Abbey . In the seventeenth century it was also closed to ordinary people because they decided to make it exclusively for members of Parliament. It was a place of worship before the decision of any important matter, and after important negotiations . In pre-revolutionary Russia the emperors and their families also had such “personal” churches.

Westminster Abbey Diamond: organ services - Photo 2

The diamond of Westminster Abbey: organ services

St. Margaret’s Church is now open free to the public . In addition to the usual visit in terms of tourism, you can also come here for a worship service. And belonging to a particular religious denomination does not matter – Orthodox people can also attend the mass, as long as they, of course, understand Latin and English. However, no one’s prayer will be hindered here, because there are benches on both sides of the altar, and in the middle there is a fairly spacious aisle. Some Orthodox Christians prefer to sit in the pews closest to the exit, so as not to embarrass Protestants and Catholics by making the sign of the cross in a different way (from right to left, rather than the other way around). The only thing that cannot be done is communion, because despite their common Christian roots, the Orthodox are not in eucharistic communion with the Anglican Church.

The inside of the church is really beautiful – white columns, black ceiling, chandeliers on either side of the altar above the people sitting in the pews, Gothic style. Once there, the tourist is involuntarily transported with his thoughts to the distant past, because very important events took place in this church, such as weddings of English monarchs and their coronations, not to mention the fact that Westminster Abbey contains the burials of kings and queens who lived at different times.

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Brilliant Westminster Abbey: organ services - Photo 3

The diamond of Westminster Abbey: organ services

The main feature of St. Margaret’s is the organ music. Of course, this is nothing new to Protestants, and the organ is used in every Christian denomination except Orthodoxy. But it is in this church that it sounds particularly majestic and unique. Connoisseurs of great music will immediately recognize Bach’s choral preludes, written especially for church services. Even if people are classical music lovers and regularly visit the Philharmonic, they will still be surprised by the sound of the organ. All of this is due primarily to the good acoustics, since no concert hall has the same spiritual ambience as a church.

The most powerful Bach piece in the Protestant mass is the famous St Matthew Passion, which describes Christ’s long journey through the world. which describes Christ’s long journey from the Last Supper to His suffering and death on the cross. The organ music transmits this ingenious work to all present at the service and the faithful relive it each time. Of course, for Orthodox people this may seem overly exaggerated, since their churches have no musical instruments, but on the whole the service leaves behind a sense of satisfaction.

Brilliant Westminster Abbey: organ services - Photo 4

The diamond of Westminster Abbey: organ services

Conduct yourself in church as follows:

  • Listen carefully . If one does not know the language, it is acceptable to pray to oneself;
  • After the service one may go up to the altar, make a half bow on one knee, go upstairs, put flowers in the place provided, and then come down. It is not necessary to touch the icons, it is not customary here;
  • When leaving the church do not linger and do not create a crowd.

Brilliant Westminster Abbey: organ services - Photo 5

Conduct yourself in church as follows:

Thus, a visit to the famous Anglican Church will not leave even a non-believer indifferent. Even if one omits the details of the Mass, he is free to take aesthetic pleasure in viewing the inner and outer beauty of this truly diamond of Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey

Monday – Wednesday, Friday – 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Thursday – 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Saturdays: (May – August) 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.; (September – April) 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Sundays – services for the faithful only.

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Adult ticket £24, children £10, family ticket (1 adult and 1 child) £24, multimedia guide £5.

Westminster Abbey is one of the most important religious buildings in Britain, a traditional coronation site and burial place for the country’s monarchs. Westminster Abbey refers to St. Peter’s Church, located in the historic district of London (Westminster).

Westminster Abbey is a prime example of the Gothic style. It is known that the church was built with great intervals during five hundred years (from 1245 to 1745). However, the first references to it date back to the V-X centuries.

Westminster Abbey

Thirty-one years ago, in 1987, St. Peter’s Church, together with the Palace of Westminster (the building where the British Parliament meets) and the late Gothic St. Margaret’s Church joined the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Tickets to Westminster Abbey

Due to the threat of a coronavirus infection, the Abbey ticket office is currently closed, so tickets can only be purchased online, through the official website.

  • adult ticket – £24,
  • children’s ticket £10,
  • family ticket (1 adult and 1 child) £24,
  • Multimedia guide – £5,
  • Diamond Royal Gallery – £5, children under 17 free.


There is a legend connected with the origins of the abbey that took place in the seventh century. A local fisherman saw over the Thames River west of London the face of St Peter, considered the patron saint of fishermen. On the same spot it was decided to start building the West Minster Church.

The founder of the first church erected there is believed to be King Sabert of Essex and Bishop Mellit of London. However, this fact is not entirely proven. The first reliable evidence dates back to 960, when English bishop Dunstan, having enlisted the support of King Edgar, founded a community of monks at the church.

Westminster Abbey

The penultimate Anglo-Saxon king of England, Edward the Confessor, began the grandiose rebuilding of the church. The monarch planned to make a royal tomb in the church. The construction work lasted from 1042 to 1090s. The king never lived to see them finished (he died in 1065). However, Edward the Confessor still became the first monarch to be buried in Westminster Abbey.

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In 1066, monarchs were crowned in the church for the first time. This was begun by Harold II. After him, all the monarchs of England and then of Great Britain were crowned in the Abbey.

In 1245, Westminster Abbey underwent changes again, and this time by order of King Henry III of England. The ruler conceived a large-scale project, according to which the church was to be the center of royal power. The king’s mason Henry of Rheinland was in charge of the construction work.

The rebuilding of the abbey took more than 250 years. The architect Henry Yewel and King Henry VII of England also contributed to the construction. He also added the Chapel of the Virgin Mary, known as Henry VII’s Chapel or Our Lady’s Chapel, to the church.

Henry VII Chapel

When Henry VIII Tudor came to power, the abbey acquired the status of a cathedral and became subordinate to the monarch of England. This status remains to this day.

English architects Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor designed the Western Towers next to Westminster Abbey.

Since then, the Abbey has undergone two more restorations – in the 19th century and after World War II.


The area of the church is 3,000 m², which gives it a capacity of 2,000 people.

The main entrance, the Great North Door, which contains the chapels, leads to the church.

Westminster Abbey

Henry VII Chapel

The main attraction of the chapel is the fan ceiling. The hangings seem to be just a decorative element, but in fact they have the important function of supporting the niches of the vault. It was a rather complicated construction, due to which the illusion of lightness is created.

Other decorative details of the chapel, such as statues of saints and apostles and sculptural images, are no less beautiful. Special delight is the altar, made of white marble, terracotta and bronze.

The southern part of the transept is interesting with its Poets’ Corner.

Henry VII Chapel

Poets’ Corner

This is a place where at different times were buried famous poets and writers. The tradition began in 1400, the “father of English poetry” Geoffrey Chaucer. Nearly two hundred years later, the English poet Edmund Spencer was buried here. Along with their ashes, the Poets’ Corner also contains the ashes of Dickens, Tennyson, Browning, Jones and other classics of English literature.

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Interesting fact: monuments to some personalities in the Poets’ Corner were often erected only long after their deaths. For example, Byron did not receive a monument until 145 years after his burial.

It also happened that a person was buried elsewhere in Westminster Abbey, and a monument was placed in Poets’ Corner. By the way, all the monuments are different: here you can see simple plaques, stone statues, and group sculptures.

Memorial Plaque

Chapter building

Capitulum building, aka Chapters House, was built in the middle of the 13th century and was restored in 1872 by George Scott. For a long time the building served as a meeting place for the Benedictine monks. At one time it even housed the state archive.

The Chapter House is neo-Gothic in style and is an octagonal room with marble columns in the center of the hall. Unfortunately, the glass stained-glass windows that once adorned the windows have not survived. But not everything was hopelessly lost – in the building of the Chapter House, you can admire the paved floor of the middle of XIII century. And the door, which is recognized as the oldest in England, is preserved. It leads from the building to the east cloister.

Westminster Abbey

The courtyard

The inner courtyard of the Abbey is flanked by four enclosed cloisters with windows overlooking the courtyard. They were presumably built between the 13th and 14th centuries. Until 1560 it was a favorite place of the monks.

And each cloister served a certain purpose. The western one taught new converts, the northern one had cupboards and tables, the southern one led to the refectory and the eastern one to the Chepter House.

There was also a smaller cloister. However, it is not located in the courtyard of the abbey, but on the site of the former infirmary.

Westminster Abbey

The Garden College

The Garden College is a garden located near the abbey. It will soon celebrate its thousandth anniversary.

Originally, the garden grew herbs, vegetables, and fruit.

Also in the garden you can see statues of saints, the sculpture “Crucifixion” and a fountain.

Church of St. Margaret.

This church was built especially for ordinary residents who were not Benedictine monks. The church takes its name from the Christian maiden, the Great Martyr Margaret of Antioch.

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Built at the end of the XI century, it was rebuilt in the XV-XVI centuries. Three times it was restored, but the appearance has not changed.

Tomb of the unknown soldier

Near the entrance to the church you can see the grave of the unknown soldier. He was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1920 in memory of fallen British soldiers.

Westminster Abbey

Abbey Museum

The Abbey Museum was opened in 1908. Its exhibits include royal headstones, various funerary decorations, fragments of sculptures and other items of historical value.

Burials at Westminster Abbey

As mentioned above, the abbey served as the final resting place for English monarchs.

But along with prominent personalities and rulers, the ashes of people who left no mark on history can be seen here. The reason for this is that every Englishman wished to have the great honor of being buried in the abbey. In this connection, rich people simply bought this place for a lot of money. Over time, the situation changed, and only the most worthy persons were buried in the abbey.

Westminster Abbey

Interesting facts

There are many legends and stories connected with Westminster Abbey. One of them tells about the existence on the territory of a ghost.

Once there was a robbery in the abbey. Forty-eight monks took part in it. One monk was against the theft and tried to stop his fellow monks, for which he was killed. A lone figure in a cassock has been roaming Westminster Abbey ever since.

Another interesting, but already reliable fact is that the tower clock of Westminster Abbey is recognized as the oldest tower clock.

Westminster Abbey

How to get to Westminster Abbey

The exact address of Westminster Abbey is 20 Deans Yard, London, next to Parliament and Big Ben.

The abbey is easily reached by tube: take the tube to Westminster station and go to the exit (there is only one) or to St James Park station.

You can also take buses 24, 11, 88, 211 and 148. Your stop is Abbey.

Those who choose to get to the Abbey by car will need to know that there is no parking near the building. The closest one is located in the park.

You can also take a cab. You can do it through a mobile app.

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