A Souvenir Guide
- The official souvenir of Westminster Abbey’s architecture and treasures, with full-colour photography and an engaging text on its 1,000-year history
- Fully revised and updated in 2013
Over a thousand years ago the first church was built on this site – then an island surrounded by tributaries of the Thames. Edward the Confessor’s abbey was built here and consecrated in 1065 – the king died a few days later and was buried before the high altar. King Henry III resolved to build a new shrine for the Confessor in a yet more glorious church in the Gothic style. At the east end the new Lady Chapel was left intact and the new Abbey was built on to it, with Edward’s church being demolished as work progressed westward, reaching completion in the early 16th century. In 1503, Henry III’s Lady Chapel was pulled down, and a new Lady Chapel was begun by Henry VII – one of the most astounding architectural achievements of the Tudor age. Finally, in 1745 the two iconic west towers were built to a design by Nicholas Hawksmoor.
Westminster Abbey has been the nation’s coronation church since 1066 and the setting for many other great national events over the centuries. The Abbey is also renowned as the burial and memorial place of kings and queens, and of other notable figures in the nation’s history, from writers and musicians to politicians and scientists.
A Souvenir Guide offers an engaging account by of the Abbey’s history, its architectural splendors, and the lives of those who are remembered here. With stunning photography, it is a beautiful reminder for visitors of one of our nation’s best-loved buildings.
James Wilkinson was the BBC’s science correspondent for 25 years, and is now one of Westminster Abbey’s honorary stewards. His previous publications are on scientific subjects and the history of the abbey.