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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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Westminster Abbey has been Britain’s coronation church since 1066. From William the Conqueror through to Queen Elizabeth II, all except two monarchs have been crowned in the Abbey.


Bayeux Tapestry - King William Coronation (12th century) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Edward V was presumed murdered in the Tower of London before he could be crowned and Edward VIII abdicated 11 months after succeeding his father.

Since the 14th century every coronation ceremony has followed the same order of service laid down in the Abbey’s magnificent medieval illuminated manuscript, the Liber Regalis, and every ceremony takes place on the Cosmati mosaic pavement.


Liber Regalis - King being crowned

The Coronation Chair commissioned by Edward I faces the High Altar to symbolise the link between the sovereign and God.


The Coronation Chair at the 1911 coronation

In the 18th and 19th centuries, public spectacle sometimes overshadowed religious significance. At George III's coronation some of the congregation began to eat a meal during the sermon, and George IV's coronation was a great theatrical spectacle but he flatly refused to allow his estranged wife Caroline into the Abbey.


Coronation of King George IV

William IV had to be persuaded to have a coronation at all and spent so little money that it became known as 'the penny coronation'.

By the time Queen Elizabeth II was crowned the world was able to witness her coronation on television.

Coronation 1953 - Queen in Chair Getty images copyright.jpg

Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953

The Shrine of St Edward the Confessor is one of the most powerful features of the Abbey. To stand in the presence of a man who is both a saint and a monarch is awe-inspiring.

The Reverend Christopher Stoltz - Minor Canon

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