From the moment King Edward the Confessor decided to build his church at Westminster in the 11th century, the story of the Abbey has been woven into the history of the British monarchy.
From coronations to weddings and burials, every British monarch has forged a strong bond with the Abbey. Two centuries later Henry III built the Abbey church you see today. Since 1066 all British monarchs except two [Edward V and Edward VIII] have been crowned at the Abbey.
Queen Elizabeth I, who succeeded her half-sister Mary I, founded the present Collegiate Church of St Peter Westminster (the formal title for the Abbey) in 1560. The Abbey is a Royal Peculiar responsible not to the Archbishop of Canterbury but to the sovereign alone.
Thirty kings and queens are buried here, starting with King Edward the Confessor himself whose magnificent shrine stands just behind the High Altar. Five monarchs are buried in the royal tombs surrounding his shrine.
The biggest challenge we face is maintaining such a large physical collection of material within a historic building – believe it or not, there’s just not enough space for it all.