Exploring both Westminster Abbey and Dean’s Yard take’s about a half a day. If you are looking for something to do in London, a Westminster Abbey tour is a great option. It’s indoors so it’ll keep you out of the rain (tick), it’s £20 each so it won’t break the bank (tick) and it is wonderful for history lovers as it is stuffed with intriguing tales of old (tick tock). Dean’s Yard is a peak behind the scenes. If you are lucky you’ll get to see the choir boys in their smart and traditional school uniform.
It sits proudly on Parliament Square right by The Houses of Parliament, so it is a bit of a tourist hub. But it is well connected by tubes. My advice is get there early to avoid the crowds. Although you’ll still have to queue to get in!
My husband has always wanted to visit Westminster Abbey Cathedral. We have been inside cathedrals all over Europe but have never made it here. Nuts considering we’ve both lived south of London all our lives. Andy’s Grandfather was custodian in the chapter house here and my Great Grandfather lived in Dean’s Yard and went to the Westminster School.
The iconic Big Ben! Part of Westminster Palace next door…
and the Medieval St Margaret’s church nestled between.
Edward the Confessor commissioned the Cathedral, but it was Henry III that began the building of Westminster Abbey in 1245. William Conqueror, however, had the 1st recorded coronation here at Christmas in 1066 and every King or Queen of the UK has been coronated here since (bar a couple).
So much of the British history we’ve picked up over the years is represented within the Cathedral:
Queen Elizabeth I is buried here and you can see her face on her grand memorial tomb. Mary Queen of Scots has one too because her son James I reached the throne after Queen Elizabeth I (who had Mary murdered) died leaving no aire of her own. James made sure his mothers tomb matched that of Elizabeth’s.
The Innocents Corner is a discreet memorial to Edward V and Richard, the Princes in The Tower. They are the two young boys who were locked away in the Tower of London, suspected to have been murdered after their father King Edward IV’s died. Many suspected their Uncle, who then took the throne. Bodies of 2 boys suspected to be the princes are laid to rest here.
The Grave of the Unknown Warrior. Surrounded by poppies, I found this very moving. I’m not sure if it was because I have been working on my family tree recently or whether it was Jeremy Iron’s smooth and earnest voice on the headset. Both our Queen and the Queen Mother laid their wedding bouquets here.
Hubby was very excited by the tomb of Henry V, who was quite the warrior.
Walking through the Quire (you can’t normally) and the Lady Chapel were more highlights.
Here I am checking we haven’t missed anything whilst enjoying The Cloisters.
Hundreds of graves have been grassed over outside Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret’s Church.
Some interesting stuff about St Margaret’s:
- The East Window contains some of the finest pre-reformation Flemish glass in London. It commemorates the marriage of Henry VIII to his 1st wife Catherine Aragon (the kneeling figures).
- The west window commemorates Sir Walter Raleigh, once favourite of Queen Elizabeth I and the guy who brought tobacco to the UK.
- Most of the stained glass along the south aisle was blown out during WW2. Pew 38 still shows fire damage due to an oil bomb.
The view of Westminster Abbey as you exit.
A few paces a way I can be found grinning. Grinning because my Nan’s father was brought up here. My Great Great Grandfather worked at Westminster school so my Great Grandfather and his brothers went to school here.
Inside is a calm haven away from the crowds. It is a large square with some grass in the middle. It was lovely to see a couple of today’s students playing football on the green. Westminster Abbey and Dean’s Yard are connected by the Westminster school where choir boys are giving a first class education.
It has the best view of Westminster Abbey from here.
This is where my ancestors lived. I should imagine they shared the house, it is rather large!
This is where the children go to school, through an old arch linking Dean’s Yard to Little Dean’s Yard (feel like that should be ‘Dean’s Little Yard’), but perhaps there was a Dean that was little.
I can’t wait to show these photos to my Nan, she loved her dad dearly. It’s strange to think that he and his brothers would have walked through this passage nearly every day heading to school.
I’ve never been so welcomed into a church, abbey or cathedral before. Whether you are religious or not, the stories it has to tell are amazing. It is a truly moving place and represents a significant chunk of our history. I definitely recommend a visit to Westminster Abbey And Dean’s Yard. Get the headphones, Jeremy Irons voice sweeps you along! Click here for visiting information.