Westminster

Seeing as a fiery ball in the sky had appeared again and I had time to pop out at lunchtime, I headed over to take a look at Westminster Abbey. Before getting there I came across a saxophonist in the subway and then headed over via Parliament Square.

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The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster and just off Parliament Square. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and British monarchs.

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Construction of the present church was begun in 1245 by Henry III who had selected the site for his burial.

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The abbey became the coronation site of Norman kings, but none were buried there until Henry III rebuilt the abbey in Anglo-French Gothic style as a shrine to  Edward the Confessor and as a suitably regal setting for Henry’s own tomb. The work continued between 1245 and 1517. Henry VII added a Perpendicular style chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1503 (known as the Henry VII Chapel). Much of the stone came from Caen, in France, the Isle of Portland and the Loire Valley region of France.

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Henry VIII assumed direct royal control in 1539 and granted the abbey the status of a cathedral by charter in 1540. By granting the abbey cathedral status Henry VIII gained an excuse to spare it from the destruction or dissolution which he inflicted on most English abbeys during this period. Westminster was a cathedral only until 1550.

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The Abbey was restored to the Benedictines under the Catholic Mary I of England, but they were again ejected under Elizabeth I in 1559. In 1579, Elizabeth re-established Westminster as a church responsible directly to the Sovereign, rather than to a bishop and made it the Collegiate Church of St Peter (which is a church with an attached chapter of canons, headed by a dean). The last abbot was made the first dean.

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I headed back towards the palace of Westminster and the Underground and took the chance to get a little street in…

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