The Queen to visit Abbey for 450th anniversary
Monday, 22nd March 2010
HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh will visit Westminster Abbey and Westminster School on Friday 21st May during celebrations marking the 450th anniversary of the granting of the Abbey’s Charter by Queen Elizabeth I.
Henry VIII dissolved the Benedictine monastery at Westminster Abbey in 1540. His daughter Mary I re-founded the monastery in 1556 only two years before her death. In 1560 her half-sister Elizabeth I granted the Abbey a new status as a Collegiate Church, governed by a Dean and Chapter.
Westminster School also looks to 1560 as the date of its new foundation, since it was then fully part of the Abbey. In 1868, the School was structurally separated from the Dean and Chapter but the ties between the School and Abbey continue to be very close.
The Queen’s visit in May will begin with a service of thanksgiving. Her Majesty’s chair will be placed in the Sacrarium on the Cosmati Pavement – the wonderful 13th-century mosaic floor on which the Abbey has spent £1½ million in a delicate two-year conservation project. The Queen will also receive a briefing on conservation work on the Coronation Chair.
After the service, Her Majesty will open the Abbey’s new Education Centre at No 1 Dean’s Yard.
The Queen will unveil a new statue of Elizabeth I at the School and then will visit a herb garden which has been planted to mark the 450th anniversary.
Her Majesty will see the results of the newly completed £2 million conservation project that English Heritage has undertaken at the Chapter House.