Have you got a specific question about Westminster Abbey? Have a look at some of our frequently asked questions and see if we can answer your query here first.
Audio-guides are free with your individual entry tickets at the North Door and the tour takes around one hour, and you can follow it at your own pace.
The audio guides are available in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Polish, Hungarian, Mandarin Chinese, and Japanese.
The rubbing of the actual brasses in the Abbey was allowed up to around 1978. Then a Brass Rubbing Centre opened first at St Margaret's and then in the North Cloister, which lasted until 1998 when it was closed. You could rub replica brasses there, many of which were not Abbey ones but brasses from lots of different English churches.
Now we recommend that people go to St Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar Square where they have a brass rubbings centre. For more information/opening times please visit: http://www.stmartin-in-the-fields.org/jserv/shopping/index.jsp
The Dean of Westminster must give his permission for all burials and monuments in the Church. Ashes only are permitted. People who have served the Abbey in an official capacity, such as a Dean, a Canon, Organist or Surveyor of the Fabric may be buried here and eminent persons of British nationality from various fields may be considered. The last poet interred was John Masefield in 1967, and Laurence Olivier, actor, was buried here in 1991.
The heraldic description is: "Azure a cross patonce between five martlets or, and on a chief or, a pale quarterly of France modern and England between two roses gules." This means a gold cross on a blue background with five martlets (birds that never land), which are the arms attributed to Edward the Confessor. At the top of the shield are the Royal arms between two Tudor roses.
Any donations we receive are put towards the upkeep of the church.
Westminster Abbey does not charge people who want to worship. But we do rely almost entirely on paying visitors and tourists to meet the costs of running the Abbey and maintaining the historic buildings.
It surprises most people to learn that the Abbey receives no funding from the Crown, the Church or the State. In fact, admission charges to Westminster Abbey have been in place for over 300 years and perhaps even longer. In 1697, visitors paid 3d to see all parts of the Abbey. By 1723 this charge had doubled and, by 1806, it had risen to 1s 11d, including a 2d tip to the ‘tomb-shewer’. In the latter part of the last century, entrance charges were 2s 6d in the sixties, £2 in 1989 and £5 in 1998. The admission charge is now £15.
The annual cost of the day-to-day running of the Abbey is around £9 million and the admission charges enable the Dean and Chapter to maintain the Abbey and neighbouring St Margaret’s – as well as meeting the needs of the millions of people from around the world who are very keen to worship at or visit the Abbey.
Although the Abbey relies almost entirely on admissions charges, the Dean and Chapter are keen to make sure access to the Abbey does not become too expensive to those less able to pay and for that reason concessionary charges are lower.
Finally we do carry our regular market research of our visitors. Significant numbers of those surveyed have told us that we could charge much more but we do endeavour to make sure our charges are fair and reasonable. We believe our charges compare very favourably with similar tourist attractions near by – for example:
Westminster Abbey £15.00 per head (concessions at £12)
Buckingham Palace £16.50 per head
Tower of London £17.00 per head
London Eye £17.00 per head
The Abbey never charges people who want to worship. But we do rely almost entirely on paying visitors and tourists. The costs of running the Abbey and maintaining the historic buildings are covered largely from these admission fees - Westminster Abbey receives no funding from the Crown or the Church and only occasional project support from the State.
611 (this number does not include graves and memorial stones on the floor).
As a visitor, you are welcome to take pictures in the Cloisters and College Garden for personal use only. Several postcards showing the interior of the Abbey are available to buy in the Abbey shop.
Photos of tombs and monuments in the Abbey can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library
It is not possible to pre-book or purchase tickets in advance for admission to Westminster Abbey. This is because visiting times can change at short notice, and we would not want to disappoint any visitor who had ‘pre-booked’ to visit.
It is possible to be seated in the Quire for certain services, however the seats are allocated on a first come first served basis. We cannot promise that it will be possible to seat you in the Quire area. If you would like to try for a seat in the Quire we suggest you arrive 30 minutes before the start of any usual weekly service. For larger services such as at Christmas and Easter we would suggest you arrive even earlier.
In 1222 it had been decreed that Westminster Abbey was exempt from the jurisdiction of the bishop of London and subject alone to the Pope. In 1534 Henry VIII transferred jurisdiction from the Pope to the Crown. He dissolved the Benedictine Abbey in 1540 and designated it as a cathedral. In 1556 the Catholic queen Mary I brought back the monks but this monastery was dissolved in 1559 and Elizabeth I constituted the present Collegiate Church under royal authority on 21 May 1560. The term derives from the "peculiar (or particular) jurisdiction" of certain churches and chapels which are not subject to any archbishop or bishop but come under the direct authority of the Sovereign.
Yes, all are very welcome to attend any of our weekday or weekend services.
No, you do not need a ticket to attend any of our services of worship. However for occasions such as Christmas Eve we would recommend you arrive in plenty of time before the service in order to get a seat as these services are particularly well-attended.
Yes – it is free to enter the Cloisters, College Garden and St Margaret’s Church. Admission to the Abbey Museum is free with a ticket to the Abbey Church.
The main Church escaped fairly lightly. Some stained glass windows, notably the Tudor badges in the Lady chapel, were blown out in l940. The worst air raid was on the night of 10/11 May l941 when the central lantern roof caught fire and fell in, damaging some of the choir stalls. The Deanery and several houses in the precincts were destroyed. Most moveable treasures had been evacuated to stately homes in the country including most of the royal tomb effigies, paintings, manuscripts and woodwork. Sixty thousand sandbags were used to protect royal and medieval tombs which couldn't be moved. The north and south rose windows and windows in the Apse were boarded over, as was the Cosmati floor in front of the High Altar. The Coronation Chair was sent to Gloucester Cathedral in the west of England, and the Coronation Stone was buried secretly in the Abbey.
The only people that can be married in Westminster Abbey are members of the Royal Family, Order of the Bath members and their children, and anyone living in the Abbey's Precincts.