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Westminster Abbey Tour with Skip-the-Line Tickets

Discover the idiosyncrasies of ‘The Royal Peculiar’
From US$565 privately
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Tour Details
Duration
2.5 hours
Product Type
Tour
Venues
Westminster Abbey
Photos & Highlights
  • Explore over 1,000 years of British royalty and history all in one building
  • Includes tickets into Westminster Abbey with your expert historian
Tour Description
While London is laden with well-known, memorable landmarks, few represent English history and culture better than Westminster Abbey. During this 2.5-hour Westminster Abbey Tour, led by a local historian with expertise in royal history, we'll explore the central role that this emblem of British Christianity has played in English history, from its founding in the eleventh century to recent royal weddings, funerals and coronations. During the tour, we will immerse ourselves in the medieval context of Westminster and journey through nearly 1,000 years of British history.
  • Westminster Abbey
  • 2.5 hours with a Ph.D. or MA-level historian
  • Pre-purchased tickets to Westminster Abbey
Our walk begins in Parliament Square, beside the Abbey. Surrounded by symbols of royal and parliamentary power, we will place the Abbey itself in its historical landscape. Originally a marshy knoll along the banks of the Thames and home to one of the poorest populations in the city, we will discuss the area's transformation over the centuries.

Using the Abbey itself as a kind of textbook, we will learn how to read and understand Gothic architecture. A kaleidoscope of historical periods and styles, the building and its decorative elements form the basis for our discussion on the symbolic use of certain features and the actual use of the complex as a residence, school, and center for the Anglican church. 

As the church of the monarch, Westminster Abbey served as the setting for all coronations. It is also the final resting place for royalty and legions of other notable Britons, from Elizabeth I to Charles Darwin. Experts estimate there may be over 30,000 graves in all within the confines of the church.

This fact will shape the second half of our walk as we enter the main church itself and wander among the monuments, tombs, and testaments. Taken together, these objects—and the great church itself—will create a narrative of British history. We will trace the reigns of kings, the intrigues of dynasties, and the impact of certain key figures on politics, art, and science.

Moving along, we'll continue paying attention to the intricate architectural decoration that makes this one of the most significant churches in the world, including the Italian Cosmati paving on the high altar, the ornate stone work in the sixteenth-century apse, and the wide range of sculpture represented on the tombs. We will also learn how to read British heraldry (a fundamental talent!) omnipresent elsewhere in Westminster, and indeed throughout London.

Our walk may conclude by witnessing the daily prayer said over the medieval tomb of Edward the Confessor, founder of the church. A rite that has been performed for nearly a thousand years, it gives us a chance to wrap our walk with a bit of living history and ponder the continuing legacy of Westminster Abbey.

If you are interested in discovering more about the key role that religion and its architecture have played in British history, we suggest our St. Paul's Cathedral Tour. Or, if looking to discover another London highlight? Try our Tower of London Tour.
What is a private tour?
Our private tours are limited exclusively to travelers in your party. They are designed to provide a learning experience that is completely tailored to you and your traveling companions. Private tours give you more flexibility with scheduling (you decide when the walk best fits your trip), the ability to tailor your itinerary (we'll work to match the itinerary to the interests and dynamics of your group), and more personalized time with your guide.

What are skip-the-line tickets?
For this tour, your tickets are pre-purchased which allows you to directly enter the security line at the Abbey without waiting to purchase tickets. You may still have to wait in a security line or in a line to have your pre-purchased ticket scanned.   

Is this tour good for kids? 
Yes! We have some excellent family-friendly guides who can appeal to the learning styles of children. Please book privately if you have children under 13. Feel free to provide us with information about your children such as favorite school subjects, and hobbies. This way we can match you with the best possible guide.
Where You'll Start
241 Reviews (4.9)

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Tim was great—very personable and welcomed our questions.
Don was very knowledgeable, was great tour this morning
WOW … I have been on dozens of tours in several countries. Jane was very impressive with her knowledge. And she has a fantastic personality as well! We were all very pleased. Thank you.