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Westminster Abbey and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Abbey is no longer open for public worship, general visiting or private prayer. Meanwhile, the community of Abbey clergy, privately and following guidance given, will sustain the worship of a building that has been a witness to God’s grace and glory for over a thousand years.

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History

Poets’ Corner

Poets’ Corner is a place of pilgrimage for literature lovers. Here, over 100 poets and writers are buried or have memorials.

Many like William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens are famous worldwide.


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Graves of Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling and Thomas Hardy

Others, though popular in their day, are now less well known. The first poet to be buried here, in 1400, was Geoffrey Chaucer, author of 'The Canterbury Tales'. Not because he was a poet but because he was Clerk of the King's Works. Nearly 200 years later, Edmund Spenser (1553-1598) who wrote 'The Faerie Queene' for Elizabeth I, one of the longest poems in the English language, asked to be buried near Chaucer – perhaps with an eye on his own literary reputation. 

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Geoffrey Chaucer

And, so began a tradition of burials and memorials which continues to this day. The Deans of Westminster decide who receives a place based on merit though they consult widely. Poets' Corner proper is in the eastern aisle, the 'corner', of the south transept, though over time graves and memorials have spread across the whole transept. There are also several clergymen and actors buried in this transept and musician George Frederic Handel.

Poets' Corner Shakespeare & Chaucer Westminster Abbey Copyright

Poets' Corner

Recent memorials include Ted Hughes, C.S. Lewis and Philip Larkin.

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Memorial to Ted Hughes

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Memorial to C.S. Lewis

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Memorial to Philip Larkin

Further reading

Poets' Corner by James Wilkinson

For more information on poets and writers see our Famous People section.


I feel very privileged to work here. I take so much pride in working for a beautiful place like the Abbey, it’s unique.

Alex - Abbey Marshal

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