The Graves At London's Westminster Abbey

The Westminster Abbey located in London contains graves of kings and queens and other famous people.

In the past, only kings and queens of England could be buried in a large church known as Westminster Abbey located in London. Today if you visit the Abbey you will see not only their graves, but also the graves of many other famous people. Patriots such as Oliver Cromwell, the scientist, Isaac Newton, poets such as Geoffrey Chaucer and the naturalist Charles Darwin are all located in the main church of the Abbey. Some of the graves are so unnoticeable that you can walk right over them and not even know it. In other words, you could be standing on one grave while looking at another. Large tombs with elegant monuments mark some of the graves while others have statues carved in the likeness of the deceased. You can also see sculptures in memory of famous people who are not buried in the Abbey such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The Abbey has been labeled as an architectural masterwork and the most famous church in Great Britain. It presents the history of Britain through shrines, tombs and special rooms. Formally the Abbey was known as the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter in Westminster. The Abbey is labeled today as one of Britains chief historic monuments. King Edward the Confessor began work on the present structure in 1245. Henry of Reims served as architect for the first building operations. By 1258, part of the nave was finished but was not completed until the early 16th century. The two eye-catching western towers were not added until the 18th century.

In 1502, King Henry VII removed the chief chapel from the church and in 1503 expanded it by building a larger house of worship, in the style of the late Gothic architect. The Abbey contains the 13th-century coronation chair of Edward I and all English monarchs since William the Conqueror in 1066 has been crowned in the abbey except for Edward V and Edward VIII. Many from Edward's time until 1760 are buried in the Abbey. Henry III had the body of Edward the Confessor placed in an extraordinary tomb behind the High Altar, since then over three thousand people have been buried or commemorated in the Abbey. Many tourist gather at the grave of the Unknown Warrior as a place of comfort and meditation and at the Poet's Corner where you can see dedications to some of Britain's greatest writers and poets.

Today, the Abbey serves as a church for daily worship and prayer and serves as a gathering place for special events in Britain, including the funeral of Princess Diana. A priest or sister is always available to any visitors who may have a request for consultation, and a priest is always available for confession, if needed. Each hour all visitors are asked to keep silent for a brief moment of prayer for the security and well being of our world. For private prayer visitors can go inside two side chapels, the St. George's Chapel or the St. Faith's Chapel. Over three million tourists visit the Abbey each year coming from all portions of the world.

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