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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Westminster Abbey

On October 2 our professors gave us all 12 pounds to go take a tour of Westminster Abbey. The church that now stands is the third one on this site. The ground was consecrated in 1523. In 1614 it became the church for the House of Commons. Westminster Abbey also continued to be the state church after the split between the Church of England and the Catholic church. This is the burial ground for many famous people from monarchs to poets to musicians. Although hundreds of tourists come every day to see the abbey the main purpose is to worship- every hour for one minute the abbey has a silent time for prayer and reflection.One thing I loved seeing was The High Altar where The Queen had her coronation in 1953. There have been 38 coronations here since 1066 This is also where Prince Diana's funeral was. On the floor of the High Altar was this tile mosaic called Cosmati Pavement from 1268.

The Quire in the past was reserved for Monks where they had their psalms 7 times a day, but now it is reserved for the choir of men and boys to sing.

In the North Ambulatory Chapel I saw the tomb of Elizabeth Nightngale from 1731. There are so many tombs here it was neat to see those of Edward I, and Henry III. We also saw Elizabeth I and Mary's (Bloody Mary) tomb. They are buried together and the tomb depicts Elizabeth I with her death mask. I thought that was interesting since they did not get along and wanted different things for their country.

Another interesting thing that I found in Westminster was there was a plaque for Oliver Cromwell who was buried there from 1655-1661, but when the monarchy was restored they dug him up hung his body and decapitated him because of his role in the Civil War.

We also saw the coronation chair that has been used since Edward I- it looked really old- but it was neat to see something that has been used for generations.

Of course we went through Poet's Corner and found out that many people are buried or remembered here. I saw Chaucer, Austin, Shakespeare, Handel, the Bronte Sisters, CS Lewis, Henry Irving, Laurence Olivier, Lord Byron, Wordsworth, Keats, and many more.

We then walked through the cloisters and the chapter house. For this I found a quote that I liked:
"As the rose is the flower of flowers, so this is the house of houses."

It was a great experience to go through and see Westminster and take the tour and see all the history that is in the abbey. I also liked going because I was able to compare it to the other abbeys and ministers I have gone to so far on my study aboard.

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- Alex