The Coronation Chair in St George’s Chapel is one of the most precious and famous pieces of furniture in the world. It has been the centrepiece of coronations for over 700 years when it is placed in the centre of the Abbey, in front of the High Altar.
The Coronation Chair was made by order of King Edward I to enclose the famous Stone of Scone, which he brought from Scotland to the Abbey in 1296, where he placed it in the care of the Abbot of Westminster. The King had a magnificent oaken chair made to contain the Stone in 1300-1301, painted by Master Walter and decorated with patterns of birds, foliage and animals on a gilt ground. The figure of a king, either Edward the Confessor or Edward I, his feet resting on a lion, was painted on the back. The four gilt lions below were made in 1727 to replace the originals, which were themselves not added to the Chair until the early 16th century. The Stone was originally totally enclosed under the seat but over the centuries the wooden decoration had been torn away from the front.
The 16th-century historian John Leland called the Henry VII Lady Chapel ‘the wonder of the world’ and it continues to inspire wonder amongst those who visit it today. It’s a glorious example of late medieval architecture with a spectacular fan-vaulted ceiling.
It is the burial place of fifteen kings and queens including Elizabeth I, Mary I, Mary Queen of Scots and what is thought to be the remains of Edward V and Richard Duke of York, the ""Princes in the Tower"". Below the central aisle is the Hanoverian vault where George II and members of his family are buried. The Stuart vault is in the south aisle where Charles II, William III and Mary II, and Queen Anne lie buried.
The Pyx Chamber is one of the oldest surviving parts of Westminster Abbey.
This low vaulted room off the East Cloister is part of the Undercroft, underneath the monk’s dormitory, which was built about 1070. The Chamber was walled off in the 12th century and made into a treasury in the 13th century, and possibly used as a sacristy when Henry III was rebuilding the main Abbey. The two heavy oak entrance doors date from the early 14th century (the original entrance being from the vestibule of the Chapter House).The chamber still possesses its medieval tiled floor and some tiles from the 11th century. The large curved medieval chest was used to store vestments. The other chests held important treaties and foreign policy documents.
Westminster Abbey is the final resting place of 30 kings and queens starting with King Edward the Confessor whose magnificent shrine stands just behind the High Altar. Henry III, who built the church you see today, is buried near him.
At the west end of the Nave of Westminster Abbey is the grave of the Unknown Warrior, whose body was brought from France to be buried here on 11th November 1920. The grave, which contains soil from France, is covered by a slab of black Belgian marble from a quarry near Namur. On it is the following inscription, composed by Herbert Ryle, Dean of Westminster:
Westminster Abbey has resounded to music every day for more than a thousand years. Come to one of the daily choral services at the Abbey and you will hear our Choir singing from their stalls in the quire - continuing a tradition dating back to the plainsong chanted by the monks of the 10th-century monastic foundation.
The Cloisters were one of the busiest parts of the Abbey where the monks spent much of their time.
A fire in 1298 damaged much of the area of the cloisters of the Norman church so they had to be substantially rebuilt. Each of the cloisters is about 100 feet in length. They date mainly from the 13th to the 15th centuries and were used for meditation, exercise and providing a route into the main monastic buildings.
The Chapter House in the East Cloister was a meeting place where the monks gathered with the abbot to ‘hold chapter’: to pray, read from the rule of St Benedict, discuss the day’s business and when the abbot decided on punishments.
It was probably begun in 1246 and completed around 1255 as part of Henry III's re-building of the Abbey and is one of the largest of its kind (internally 18 metres or 60 feet). It is octagonal in shape with tiered seating for up to eighty monks and an imposing central pillar, fanning out to a vaulted ceiling. Henry of Reyns was the supervising master mason, probably with Master Aubrey.
Poets’ Corner is a place of pilgrimage for literature lovers. Here, over 100 poets and writers are buried or have memorials.
Others, though popular in their day, are now less well known. The first poet to be buried here, in 1400, was Geoffrey Chaucer, author of 'The Canterbury Tales'. Not because he was a poet but because he was Clerk of the King's Works. Nearly 200 years later, Edmund Spenser (1553-1598) who wrote 'The Faerie Queene' for Elizabeth I, one of the longest poems in the English language, asked to be buried near Chaucer – perhaps with an eye on his own literary reputation.
College Garden, hidden within the walls of the Abbey precincts, has been in cultivation for over 900 years.
In monastic times, it was used to grow food and medicinal herbs for the occupants of the Abbey. There was an orchard, as well as fishponds, beehives, and a separate plot for growing vegetables.
But the garden wasn't simply somewhere to grow food. It was also a place of beauty, neatly laid out and planted with roses and lilies. The garden was tended by a Head Gardener and two under-gardeners. They were monks and were expected to attend daily services – although they were asked to leave their muddy boots and capes outside. Today, the garden is a peaceful place to relax during your visit to the Abbey. The oldest surviving feature is the stone wall built in 1376. The 18th century dormitory for Westminster School is on the west side. Modern features include a rose garden and a water jet fountain.
You can also enjoy our two smaller gardens: the Little Cloister Garden, with its Victorian fountain and borders of scented plants which was originally an area set aside for recuperation after illness, and the Garth, a lawn bordered by the cloisters, which was used by the monks for quiet reflection. From the Little Cloister the small private garden within the ruins of the 12th century St Catherine's chapel can be viewed.
This article based on https://www.westminster-abbey.org/visit-us/plan-your-visit/what-to-see-and-do. All rights reserved by www.westminster-abbey.org