Westminster Abbey – visited today


If you’re a Londoner – which I am – you can walk past Westminster Abbey a hundred times barely registering it. But today, I thought I would. If for no other reason than to share some images but also a few things you might not know about this church.

Together with parliament, it was built on an island – or eyot – formed by sediment deposited by the River Tyburn which split into two and flowed into the Thames at Westminster. The Tyburn is now in a sewer beneath London. The island was called Thorney Island.

The first church may have been built as early as 604CE but it was Edward the Confessor in the 11th century who built the first major monastery. The Saxons didn’t place as big an importance on the crowning of monarchs as the Normans did – who made Westminster Abbey the place to be hailed officially as king after they invaded England in 1066.

Westminster went through a wholesale reconstruction under Henry III (1216-1272) who pretty much wiped out the earlier Romanesque church and replaced it with a Gothic edifice. The bulk of what you see today is Henry III’s work.

Interestingly, as I mentioned before in another post, the work was funded in part by the Jewish moneylender Licoricia. This wouldn’t save her life as England – consumed by crusades related xenophobia –

turned against its Jewish communities and eventually banished them under Edward I.

 

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Westminster Abbey – visited today

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s