Talk:Westminster Abbey

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History Section Myth not Tradition[edit]

Can we please edit the early history section to reflect that the so called 'tradition' of a foundation by the fisherman Aldrich is no such thing but a myth invented in modern times. The only hard evidence is for the King Edgar foundation in the 10th Century.

Also, as far as I am aware the name 'Westminster Abbey' is not its "original name", the dedication to St Peter is original - the article should state that Westminster Abbey is what it is "popularly and informally known as". (talk) 18:33, 28 December 2008 (UTC) Tony S

Queen's Scholars[edit]

The Master of the Queen's Scholars is correctly listed as a member of the collegiate body but the link refers to a different sort of Queen's Scholar entirely. Should a page be created for the Westminster scholars, or should the link be removed? DonGoat 15:16, 14 February 2007 (UTC) (talk)

Bishop of London[edit]

"although the Abbey is the seat of the Bishop of London" - really? Not St Paul's? Psmith 10:08, 17 Oct 2003 (UTC)

the Bishop of London has two cathedral churches--St Paul's and Westminster Abbey

This is not so - the Abbey is in fact 'extra diocesan' as a Royal Peculiar it outside the jurisdiction of any Bishop. Tony S79.75.31.166 (talk) 08:40, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

I'm sceptical about this "seized by the Crown in 1534" claim. Anyone have a citation? The first round of dissolutions wasn't completed until 1536. William Boston, abbot through most of the 1530s, was one of the commissioners who administered the oath of succession, but that's not the same as surrendering the abbey. As best I can tell, the abbey was surrendered on 16 January 1539/40 (TNA SP 1/157/59), and was refounded as cathedral 17 December 1540. Ptomng 09:10, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

As mentioned correctly in the article the Abbey is a 'Royal Peculiar' and functions outside the normal hierarchy of the Church of England. It is directly responsible to the Sovereign. Under Common English law, if 'push came to shove', the Abbey would be described as the personal property of the Sovereign. Ds1994 (talk) 10:30, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

Missing Burials[edit]

The list of Burials is incomplete. Most notably Elizabeth I, Mary I, Anne of Cleves, and the other Tudor monarchs (except Henry VIII). I would add them, but I do not know within which section they are interred. MortimerCat 19:38, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Could somebody who knows add a "monarchs" section to the list of people buried in the Abbey? It will include Edward the Confessor, Edward I, Henry III, Eizabeth I, Mary I, Henry VII, Mary Queen of Scots, Edward III and Richard II according to the current tourist leaflet, but there are more, such as Henry V - AG, Stockport, UK.

I added a list of monarchs, working from --dyknowsore 05:06, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

Astonishingly, Charles Darwin was not mentioned until I added him. Also I see in other research that Robert Louis Stephenson (Steam engines) and David Livingstone (Dr. Livingstone I presume) are also buried there. Who else is missing? Surely such luminaries should be mentioned in an article that lists every organist and sub-organist who ever played there? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:26, 22 May 2010 (UTC)

Darwin is listed in the sub-article Westminster Abbey Burials and Memorials, although he's not mentioned in the text their either. I'd certainly agree that if Isaac Newton is mentioned so should Darwin be, and probably also Stephenson and Livingston. You are more than welcome to determine "who else is missing" and add as appropriate. Martinevans123 (talk) 09:25, 22 May 2010 (UTC)
It was plain Robert Stephenson (son of George) who was the steam engineer, not Robert Louis Stephenson (buried on Samoa).Cloptonson (talk) 15:11, 17 December 2012 (UTC)
Missing!? But he's next to this guy, apparently. Martinevans123 (talk) 13:26, 13 April 2013 (UTC)

Missing Commemoration?[edit]

Fanny Burney was some years ago recognized in the Poet's Corner with a window pane. Not sure if that qualifies for 'commemoration' as it is used here, but if so, please add her. 04:56, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Kevin W.

I'm pretty sure there's a commemoration to Wilfred Owen (a WWI poet) in the Poet's Corner that is missing from the list on this page. Can someone confirm this and add him? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:41, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

The Poet's Corner section states: "Other poets were buried or memorialized around Chaucer in what became known as Poets' Corner. These include; John Milton, William Wordsworth, Thomas Gray, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Robert Burns, William Blake, T. S. Eliot, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and William Shakespeare." But only Shakespeare is listed among the Commemorated and Wordsworth, Gray, Keats, Shelley, Blake, Hopkins, and Shakespeare are buried elsewhere. (Wikipedia does not list burial sites for Milton, Burns, or Eliot.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:23, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Milton is buried in the Abbey see: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:33, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Incorrect - Milton was buried at St Giles', Cripplegate (certainly registered there) - he is commemorated by tablet with bust in the Abbey.Cloptonson (talk) 15:15, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

See Poet's Corner article for list of Buried/Commemorated poets


I propose the following passage for deletion:

According to H.V. Morton's In Search of London, a ghostly monk is said to appear in the Abbey on the eve of a monarch's coronation. The book states that the monk was last seen prior to the coronation of George VI in 1937. (The book was published in 1951; it is unknown if the monk was seen prior to Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953.)

This passage is conjectural and out of keeping with the rest of the article - AG, Stockport, UK.

Move Organists to separate article?[edit]

I noticed that the Abbots of Westminster got moved into their own article/list. Perhaps the same should be done for the list of Organists?

Clemwang 08:29, 22 March 2007 (UTC)


why has this grand and imposing building have so little written about its construction and feats of engineering? who were the architects? tali04/07/07

See the official site: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:34, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

There is an odd comment about Henry III's construction of Edward Confessor's shrine: "The Confessor's shrine subsequently played a great part in his canonisation." The Wikipedia article on the Confessor states, "He was canonised in 1161 by Pope Alexander III." I'm pretty sure that date is correct. Also, shrines were not customarily built for those not yet canonized, even when canonization was all but a foregone conclusion. Thus, the shrine had nothing to do with his canonization. Perhaps this was meant to read, "...played a great part in his veneration." MonteGargano (talk) 16:06, 26 June 2014 (UTC)


what are the qualifying criteria for non -monarchs to be allowed burial at the abbey? who decides, is it a commitee? and are they buried in "less prominent areas"? who was the last person buried at the abbey? tali04/07/07

Westminster Abbey has long since stopped receiving actual bodies - they are full. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II will be buried at Windsor when she dies. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Krint01 (talkcontribs) 17:44, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

Not so. The Northumberland Vault is still used for burials for members of the Percy family (Dukes of Northumberland). And the reference to the burial of the present Queen is spurious anyway, as all monarchs of Great Britain and of the United Kingdom since George II (died 1760) have been buried either at St George's Chapel Windsor or nearby at Frogmore. Ds1994 (talk) 18:23, 25 September 2010 (UTC)

Westminster Assembly[edit]

Something should probably be said about the Westminster Assembly. (talk) 19:14, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Cromwell at al[edit]

According to this article Oliver Cromwell and his fellow Parliamentarians Robert Blake (admiral) and John Pym were all buried but later removed. The article on Oliver Cromwell itself, however, states:

"In 1661, Oliver Cromwell's body was exhumed from Westminster Abbey, and was subjected to the ritual of a posthumous execution, as were the remains of John Bradshaw and Henry Ireton."

Any more/less candidates? I am a little confused. Martinevans123 (talk) 21:25, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

I see that the Oiur Past History page for St.Margaret's, Westminster has the following:
"The bodies of Oliver Cromwell and two others were disinterred and gibbeted at Tyburn, while other notable Parliamentarians were removed from the Abbey and deposited in the less noble yard of St Margaret. These include John Pym, one of Charles I's greatest opponents in the Commons, Isaac Dorislaus who drew up the capital charges against the ill-fated monarch, and Cromwell's most able seaman Admiral Robert Blake. They were joined in 1677 by the engraver Wenceslas Hollar."
But there seems to be nothing relevant on the site for the Abbey itself. Martinevans123 (talk) 08:00, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
I have clarified the reference to Cromwell's burial and exhumation to read that he was "hanged on a gibbet at Tyburn", in place of the vague "hanged on a nearby gibbet". (The nearness of Tyburn to the Abbey may be disputable according to how one comprehends the distance from and visibility of the Abbey.)Cloptonson (talk) 15:30, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

Memorial to fallen troops[edit]

"The Princess Royal has unveiled a memorial to the armed forces which commemorates the 16,000 servicemen and women killed since World War II.The memorial is in the south cloister of Westminster Abbey, and takes the form of a metal plaque." This should be added here. (Hypnosadist) 15:23, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

Be bold. Cite additions, tho. --Secisek (talk) 17:16, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Burials and memorials in separate article?[edit]

Could I suggest that (most of) the burials and memorials deserve their own sub-article, leaving this one to focus on history, architectural design and organisational aspects, more in line with both Canterbury Cathedral and York Minster. Any views? Martinevans123 (talk) 18:57, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

I agree, perhaps it would be better to simply have a separate list article under 'list of burials at Westminster Abbey' rather than taking so much of the page. It would make the article so much more more concise and easier to use. --Sickfish (talk) 22:26, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

Split tag now added, hopefully to muster more responses. Any ideas? Suggest a small intro section would be needed for any new article. Martinevans123 (talk) 21:26, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

Now split. I hope this article is more readable and the new one workable. In the absence of any suggestions, the introductory paragraphs are duplicated between the two articles (which may lead to gradual disparity). I'd suggest keeping organists and sub-organists here for now. Any other ideas? Martinevans123 (talk) 20:57, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

Robbing from Peter to pay Paul[edit]

According to the dates, this article suggest that this idiom originated in the 1500s. The Wiki article Robbing_Peter_to_pay_Paul indicates that the phrase was used as early as 1380, though. Is it still possible that they are related? Steglev (talk) 19:47, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

It seems reasonable that what was already an idiom became, by coincidence, also more literally true during the 1500s. But in any case I'd suggest that the article text here needs to be adjusted and then a link added. Martinevans123 (talk) 21:36, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

reverted vandalism[edit]

I have deleted two prankster names on the organist's list (2009 Dilcer and 2010 Guido***). None of them are referenced on the official site, which, by the way, can be found here: . —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mfhulskemper (talkcontribs) 01:18, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

In books, flims and plays?[edit]

I spotted this note about The Da Vinci Code and was wondering if it should be mentined here, and if there was other material which might warrant a new "In popular culture" section here. Martinevans123 (talk) 13:28, 1 December 2009 (UTC)


Instead of having only a picture of 4 of the 10 martyrs that have statues at Westminster Abbey, could the picture that is on the page for Lucian Tapiedi ( be used since it shows all 10 martyrs? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:11, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

St Edward's Chair and the Stone of Scone[edit]

I have provided a minor edit to the section 'Coronations'. Although the Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland in 1996, it has been agreed with both the Scottish and United Kingdom Parliaments that the Stone of Scone will be returned to the Coronation Chair for all future Coronations (the Stone then being returned to Scotland immediately afterwards). Ds1994 (talk) 10:34, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

History – Fishmonger's Guild Yearly Presentation of Salmon[edit]

It's probable the "Fishmonger's Guild" is the Fishmonger's Company, but I find no absolute evidence. Someone more knowledgeable may wish to confirm this and then provide the link. (talk) 12:08, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

This source seems to clearly show the connection, so I think it can be substituted. But a source (online at least) for the annual salmon gift itself remains ellusive. Martinevans123 (talk) 17:55, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

Royal Weddings at Westminster Abbey[edit]

Under the section discussing Royal Weddings, it says:

"The Abbey has seen only three weddings of reigning monarchs; Henry I, Richard II,and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, on April 29th, 2011 to Catherine Middleton."

I'm wondering, since when is Prince William considered a reigning monarch? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:00, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

It only said that for a few minutes a couple of times because foolish people keep adding it in. You do know you could have removed it right? —Diiscool (talk) 11:45, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

Now it says only two reigning monarchs; Henry I, Richard II... is Elizabeth II not a reigning monarch? —Anon 5:09 PST, 30 April 2011 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:10, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
Right. But she wasn't reigning when she was married. What the article means is, the Abbey was the site of the wedding of only two monarchs who were married there while they reigned. —Diiscool (talk) 00:36, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

Mysterious square, free-standing, tower at north-west corner of Westminster Abbey[edit]

At around 44 seconds into a recent BBC slide presentation about Thames river pageants, Pomp and pageantry on the Thames, there appears an etching which shows an 'aerial' view of London from above a point slightly to the south-west of the west end of Westminster Abbey. The etching clearly shows a large, square, free-standing, tower at the north-west corner of the Abbey. The etching is captioned 'River Thames, London, 1584'.

The same tower also appears in a number of artworks, such as 'Reconstruction of Westminster in 1585 by Peter Jackson' on the page Westminster Abbey and Westminster_16C.jpg from Palace of Westminster, which aim to reconstruct the appearance of the Abbey and its surroundings at various times.

If the etching really is contemporary with the period it represents then it would appear likely that the tower really existed at that time. What is clear however is that by the time of the map, London_actually_surveyed_by_Wm_Morgan_1682.jpg (don't download; very large), 1682, the tower appears to have disappeared (take my word for it!).

I have been unable to find other artworks from the late 16th century or earlier which confirm the existence of the tower.

As an internet search has failed to produce any information about this tower, a significantly large structure, the question arises: did this tower ever really exist?

As images showing the tower are being widely displayed, by sites such as the BBC and Wikipedia itself, it would seem important to add some text to the Westminster Abbey page which either clearly identifies, names, and provides references about the tower, or makes clear that the tower never existed. It is too large and prominent a structure to remain unidentified.

Can anyone provide information about this tower?

Cricobr (talk) 22:15, 3 June 2012 (UTC)

You are likely seeing what was the Abbey's medieval belfry, built in the 13th century and demolished in 1750. Its location was partially excavated during the construction of the Middlesex Guildhall which now sits on top of its original location. The belfry was described by William Stukeley in a lecture to the Society of Antiquaries on 30 October 1755 (published in Archaeologia in 1770). A very good article was published recently as: Tim Tatton-Brown, "Beneath the new Supreme Court are the remains of the Abbey's medieval belfry", The Westminster Abbey Chorister, Winter 2011/12, p. 46–51. Unfortunately, the Chorister is not online and it is hard to find (I subscribe). —Diiscool (talk) 22:51, 3 June 2012 (UTC)
I wonder if the etching of the area in 1584 in the BBC presentation is contemporary with the time it represents, and is from a known and reliable source. It certainly seems to represent the area in considerable detail, and with what would seem to be considerable precision. I find it curious that the location for the Belfry tower in the etching seem to be drawn so confidently in line with the west end of the Abbey and the north side of St. Margaret's. This would seem to put it under the green/road to the north of the Abbey, rather than under the Guildhall. Do we really know the location of the Belfry?!
Cricobr (talk) 23:54, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
I agree that the 1584 etching shows the belfry to be directly west of St Margaret's which it can't have been if the early 20th-century excavations were accurate. I tend to believe they were. The above cited article has an plan from 1911/12 showing the belfry foundations directly under what is now the Guildhall. —Diiscool (talk) 00:56, 9 June 2012 (UTC)

Papal visit[edit]

Re Pope Benedict. Current source says: " While successive archbishops of Canterbury and popes have met for the last 50 years, this was the first time in history that a pope had visited Lambeth Palace or Westminster Abbey." And looks to me like WP:RS. So this seems rather clear, and I think can be supported by other sources. It may be a mistake, of course. But I think we need sources supporting John Paul II being the first to step inside the Abbey, before we make any change? (talk) 07:51, 3 September 2012 (UTC)

Pictures of Abbey Layout[edit]

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If there is some Wikipedia rule regarding the following, of which I am unaware then feel free to ignore my comments, but I find it disconcerting to view the following images presented in the current orientations. I don't know how to fix this but could someone who does know, flip the image of the interior layout of the abbey? Currently, north is at the bottom, which is usually reserved for south on maps, and west is shown on the right side, which is usually reserved for east. There is a similar problem with the image, "Layout Plan Dated 1894." In the image, east is pointing upwards, the normal position of north.Carmaskid (talk) 08:02, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

The first image is a user creation and can be replaced by a different version if it makes sense in the context of this article. You are free to create one or ask for someone to do it at the Graphics Lab's map workshop. The latter one is a historical image and as such should be displayed as it was drawn for encyclopedic purposes since the point is to show how the abbey was depicted in 1894. Regards SoWhy 10:41, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
I think the plan may have been made that way as the majority people view the abbey from Parliament Square, to the north, and so that orientation represents how the majority of casual visitors perceive the abbey. --Rushton2010 (talk) 00:08, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

Censing Angels[edit]

I hope someone considers adding a photo of the Censing Angels to the article. Amazing beauty. Thank you. Richlevine00 (talk) 19:56, 3 August 2013 (UTC)

Physical Description[edit]

There is almost nothing about the physical dimensions of the abbey. What are the length and width of the various sections of it? How tall are the towers? What is the height of the vaulted ceiling? What sort of stone was used in the construction? What is known about the site upon which it stands? I'm very surprised to find so little detail about such a noteworthy historical landmark.--Beetfarm Louie (talk) 04:15, 4 August 2013 (UTC)


Six by eight feet and seven feet high - or? 2001:470:28:2B1:213:E8FF:FE9D:2E79 (talk) 08:39, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

name error[edit]


The following coordinate fixes are needed for (talk) 18:23, 27 January 2014 (UTC)

X mark.svg Not done. Closing this, as the poster has not specified any way in which the coordinates in the article are erroneous (and the coordinates are, in fact, correct). Deor (talk) 18:35, 27 January 2014 (UTC)


The entry makes no reference to controversies in the recent history of the abbey, some of which possess wide significance. These should be evoked and,albeit sensitively,addressed - and by an objective editor less shocked than myself by the February half-mast incident---- Clive sweeting 6 March 2015

Royal Peculiar vs Cathedral[edit]

I don't think any formal status like Royal Peculiar can undo the fact from an architectural point of view , that Westminster Abbey indeed is a Cathedral. A very large church. This doesn't rule out any other status the Cathedral in question may have. But I don't believe there is an architectural support for anything else but a Cathedral. Boeing720 (talk) 11:30, 16 October 2015 (UTC)

The term 'cathedral' is not dependent on the size of the church. There are some relatively small churches which have the status of a cathedral, one good example being St David's Cathedral in Wales. The status of a church being designated as a cathedral is down to the presence of a Bishop's throne, or 'cathedra' in the church, hence the term 'cathedral'. Westminster Abbey does not have a Bishop's throne, therefore it is not a cathedral.Ds1994 (talk) 20:03, 21 January 2017 (UTC)

Unbuilt tower and monument hall[edit]

This might be of use to expand the article: "Unbuilt London: Imperial Monumental Halls", IanVisits. I'm not sure where it would fit in with the current layout, though, hence why I'm mentioning it here rather than adding it directly. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 11:06, 3 January 2016 (UTC)

Infobox image[edit]

The user User:Bede735 change the image with a personal image no very good and full of darks,I think that the other is better or another with the full facade and without darks. Others opinions? thanks--LivioAndronico (talk) 16:23, 10 January 2016 (UTC)

Actually the image has been in the infobox since last September. You replaced it a few days ago with a version that looks washed out, with the facade off-center, and complete with traffic and vehicles and a nice obscuring tree. After I reverted your change two days ago, you should have followed WP:BRD instead of initiating a WP:EDITWAR. Bede735 (talk) 16:46, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
This picture show all the facade and isn't crop like your,we must show the church and not part of it.Excuse me but of pictures i understand something [1] Thanks. --LivioAndronico (talk) 21:29, 10 January 2016 (UTC)