At 10:44 on September 19, local time, the Queen’s coffin was slowly removed from the Palace of Westminster in the House of Parliament. 142 soldiers of the Royal Navy escorted her to Westminster Abbey all the way. Elizabeth She was married and coronated there, and now, she has her own funeral.
This is the first time a monarch’s funeral has been held in Westminster Abbey since the 18th century. Before the ceremony, the church’s “alto bell” rang every minute for 96 minutes, symbolizing the years of the Queen’s life.
In a time of change, the Queen’s funeral brings a rare closeness to a classic, timeless moment. People all over the world quieted down and turned their attention to Westminster Abbey – what is this church that has witnessed countless parts of history?
Gothic style architecture
For the state funeral, the Queen’s coffin was first parked in the Palace of Westminster for the public to pay homage to for a few days, and then sent to Westminster Abbey for a memorial ceremony attended by more than 2,000 guests. Following the ceremony, the Queen’s coffin was taken to Windsor Castle, where she was buried with husband Philip in another private funeral.
Hosting a funeral in Westminster Abbey is a de facto break with a nearly 300-year-old tradition for the British royal family. The last time a British monarch was buried in central London was George II, who died in 1760. Since then, British monarchs have been buried at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle – the real burial place of the Queen. The state funeral held in Westminster Abbey is a ceremony open to subjects and the public, which is more of a public event than an intimate small funeral.
The twin towers on the west side of Westminster Abbey are the most striking places of its appearance and the entrance to the church today. The two towers are thin and thin, with soaring spires that they almost pierce the eye, showing the Gothic architectural style.
Westminster Abbey’s west gate
Stained glass windows in Westminster Abbey
Although the west door of the church is called “GREATWESTDOOR”, this door is still far from “style”, but stepping inside is “unique”. into a high-pitched symphony.
The nave of Westminster Abbey is more than 30 meters high, and the stone columns on both sides stretch upwards. The domes of Gothic churches usually consist of quarter or six rib arches, and the British played with it in a variety of ways. The Ladies’ Chapel in Westminster Abbey has a spectacular fan-shaped ceiling, full of complex but symmetrical geometric figures, looking up, like looking at the world in a kaleidoscope.
Westminster Abbey has been the coronation church of British monarchs since 1066.
Westminster Abbey was originally a small monastery built by King “Edward the Confessor” in the 11th century, and was then called “West Cathedral” to distinguish it from St Paul’s Cathedral in the east. Two centuries later, Henry III rebuilt a Gothic-style church on the site of the abbey.
The Westminster Abbey that people see today is the result of multiple revisions by multiple kings between the 13th and 16th centuries, so different parts of the church may come from different eras. The twin towers on the west side were the latest to be completed and were built in the first half of the 18th century; and the wooden door leading to the council hall inside the church is the oldest preserved door in the UK, and it was made during the reign of King Edward.
Not only does Westminster Abbey carry the rich history of Britain’s past, it still hosts regular services today and celebrates major events in the country. It was where Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth II were buried and where Prince William and Kate were married.
This is a living historical place.
Westminster Abbey has been the coronation church of British monarchs since 1066. In 1296, Edward I (also known as “Edward Long-Legs”) ordered the manufacture of the coronation chair, and since then almost every king of England and Great Britain has sat on the coronation chair to be crowned king. It will naturally come in handy for Charles’ coronation in the not too distant future.
Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953
On September 15, 2022, British people pay their respects to the coffin of the Queen in the Hall of the Palace of Westminster
At the same time, Westminster Abbey is the resting place of 17 British monarchs. However, the British monarch’s tomb covers a very small area. Many kings, such as James I, Charles II, and Queen Anne, only have an inscription on the ground to mark their burial here.
Edward the Confessor was the first monarch to be buried in Westminster Abbey, and his tomb is located directly behind the main altar, a raised platform. The chapel, centered on the tomb of Edward the Confessor, is surrounded by the tombs of several other kings. Their appearance is usually a cuboid in the shape of a coffin, with the statue of the deceased carved on it, usually lying face-up.
I had seen a similar tomb at York Minster, and when I first saw the statue, I was horrified by the dense coffins. But in fact, the real habitat of the corpses is in the underground of the church, usually just below the coffin-shaped cuboid.
Due to the lack of space in the church, even the king had to share his tomb with others. Elizabeth I lay with her sister, Mary I of England. In 1625, the catacombs of Henry VII and his wife were reopened to put the body of King James I in.
Although most kings and queens are buried underground, Edward the Confessor’s remains are actually stored in his high platform. In 1685, a young choir boy climbed a ladder and put his hand into the coffin. He took out a 24-inch gold chain and a cross from under a pile of bones. The boy also saw a complete mandible, above it. Full of teeth. After the king at that time found out, he ordered the original coffin to be sealed in a new iron coffin. From then on, no one bothered Edward the penitent again.
Westminster Abbey’s official website reads: “A royal church for everyone.”
This is true. In addition to members of the royal family, Westminster Abbey is also buried with politicians, poets, scientists , soldiers and musicians, a total of more than 3,300 people. Voltaire once said: “When you walk into Westminster Abbey, what people look at is not the tombs of the kings, but the monuments built by the country to thank the greatest people who have brought glory to the country.”
Westminster Abbey is also home to more than 3,300 politicians, poets, scientists, warriors and musicians.
Entering from the west gate of Westminster Abbey, the first tombstone seen in the nave is the world-famous Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Buried under the tombstone is the body of a soldier brought back from the battlefields of northern France after World War I. This is also the only tombstone in the church that cannot be walked and stepped on at will – yes, the tombstones in the church are not erected like we are used to, but are embedded on the ground.
In Westminster Abbey, there are far too many names that shine brighter than kings. Continue east from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and you will see the monuments of Newton and Darwin. Newton’s monument is made of off-white marble, and its base supports a relief sarcophagus on which Newton’s statue sits reclining.
In addition, Faraday and James Clark Maxwell are also buried here, which became the Scientist’s Corner of Westminster Abbey. In 2018, Hawking joined here, he became Newton and Darwin’s “neighbor”, and his tombstone is engraved with the radiation temperature formula, with a black hole in the background.
The Poets’ Corner, located in the church’s south transept, is a place of pilgrimage for literature lovers, where some 40 writers are buried and a monument to 70 writers has been erected. The former includes Dickens, the latter includes world-renowned poets and writers such as Shakespeare, Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters.
It is a great honor to occupy a place in Westminster Abbey after death. To what extent do British people yearn for this? Shakespeare’s contemporary playwright Ben Jonson is said to have prayed to Charles I for an 18-inch square in Westminster Abbey; another story says that Jonson was poor and he told the church’s senior pastor , no one will pay for his funeral, six feet long and two feet wide is too much for him, two feet long and two feet wide is all he wants.
In any case, Jonson became the only person in Westminster Abbey whose body was buried standing. Since new bodies are always lying in, the ground is often dug up. The world has seen Jonson’s two leg bones standing upright in the sand several times, and the bones above his leg bones have rolled into someone else’s newly built tomb. .
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Westminster Abbey is intertwined with British history, burying or commemorating the country’s most important figures, and it is the graves of these famous people that deepen the special attachment to this church.
It is worth mentioning that Westminster Abbey is not kept away from the public because of its special royal church status. In addition to regular services, it also provides concerts, lectures and other services from time to time, open to everyone, basically. All are free, and ordinary people can participate as long as they make an appointment on the website.
It is a kind of happiness to live the public life of modern people in such monuments.