WESTMINSTER Abbey is considered one of the most notable buildings in Britain with a rich history dating back hundreds of years.
Here's everything you need to know about Westminster Abbey…
Who built Westminster Abbey?
Westminster Abbey began as a small monastery founded in 960 A.D.
Later, in the 1040s King Edward the Confessor established his palace nearby.
He wanted to enhance his building by adding a large stone church in honor of St Peter the Apostle.
The church became known as the "west minister" to avoid confusion with St Paul's Cathedral and the east minister which was the city of London.
Minster means a large or important church, many of these have cathedral status.
King Edward died just days after the church was finally consecrated in 1065 – his remains are entombed in the front of the high altar in the Abbey.
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In the middle of the 13th century, King Henry III rebuilt the Abbey in a Gothic style which was popular at the time.
Further updates and renovations were made over the next couple of centuries, including a chapel and staircases leading to an altar above.
The last phase of the Abbey’s construction was completed in 1745 involving the West Towers.
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Who has been buried at Westminster Abbey?
Westminster Abbey is the final resting place for around 3,300 people in history including monarchs such as Henry III, Edward III, Richard II and Henry V.
It's not just royals, Poets Corner is a section where over 100 poets and writers are buried or have special memorials dedicated to them such as William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens.
Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking are all also buried at Westminster Abbey.
There is also a grave to the Unknown Warrior located close to the west door. The tomb contains the body of an unidentified soldier who died on the battlefield during World War I and was laid to rest in 1920.
Today, the monument acts as a symbol to honour those who have died in service, or are missing in action.
Since 1923, all royal brides who have been married in the Abbey have sent their bouquets back to be placed on the grave.
What is Westminster Abbey used for?
Funerals of notable people including Charles Darwin, the actor Laurence Olivier, Princess Diana and the Queen Mother were held at Westminster Abbey.
Queen Elizabeth II's funeral will be held at Westminster Abbey, after lying in state for five days prior.
Many celebrations also take place at the Abbey such as coronations and royal weddings.
The most recent royal wedding to take place at Westminster Abbey was in April 2011, when Prince William married Kate Middleton – the ceremony was watched by over 162 million people around the world.
Queen Elizabeth II married Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh at the Abbey in 1947.
Who are the Westminster Abbey choir?
Westminster Abbey choir is made up of up to 30 boys, who attend the special Abbey choir school, as well as twelve professional adult singers.
The choir play a central role in all royal and state events held there such as the service to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation, events forming part of the official First World War Centenary commemorations and memorial services for many national and international figures such as Stephen Hawking, Nelson Mandela and Terry Wogan.
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Can you get into Westminster Abbey for free?
There is never a charge to enter Westminster Abbey for worship so people can enter for free during church services.
However, tourists visiting must pay for a ticket which also gives access to a free audio guide.
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