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Westminster Abbey Lesson for Kids: History & Facts

Instructor: Tammie Mihet

Tammie has taught elementary school for 14 yrs. and holds an MA in Instructional Technology

Westminster Abbey is one of the most visited churches in the world and is an UNESCO world heritage site. Why is this church so famous? In this lesson, discover the history and secrets of Britain's most fascinating church.

If Walls Could Talk

What if walls could talk? Some ancient buildings are filled with so much history you wish they could tell their own stories, of secret battles that were waged within their walls or of the regally crowned people that walked their halls. One such ancient building, steeped in over 1,000 years of British history, is Westminster Abbey, a church whose walls, if they could talk, would tell you that they hold much more than the secrets of history!

Outside View of Westminster Abbey
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Within the Walls

As you step into the walls of the Collegiate Church of St. Peter, known as Westminster Abbey, in London, England, you can almost hear the walls whisper their history. Its ancient Gothic architecture rises high above you and its structure speaks of a world long ago. But it is what's within the walls that is most fascinating.

Entombed within the walls and even beneath the floor you walk on are thousands of bodies! Yes, bodies! Westminster Abbey is the burial spot for many famous people in history, like Charles Dickens, Sir Isaac Newton, and Charles Darwin, just to name a few. It is also the final resting place of several monarchs (or rulers, like kings and queens), including Queen Elizabeth I. But why are some of history's most influential people buried here?

Grave of Queen Elizabeth I Inside Westminster Abbey
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A King's Work

Long ago, the King of England, King Edward, decided to restore a monastery, or community in which monks lived, in what was then called Thorney Island. On December 28, 1065, his grand design was finished; however because he was ill, he was not able to attend the dedication ceremony. King Edward died just a few days later on January 5th, 1066, and his body was buried near the altar of the church.

Almost two hundred years later, a great admirer of King Edward, Henry III, became King of England. He decided that a grander church needed to be built, so in 1245 he began rebuilding the entire church in a Gothic style of architecture. Many people think that Gothic means dark and scary, however, that could not be farther from the truth! This style of architecture is characterized by high, pointed towers with large windows that give way to rays of sunshine lighting up the highly decorated interior walls. Even though various parts of Westminster Abbey have been changed over the years since Henry III's redesign, much of what we see today is his Gothic-inspired construction.

Inside View of Westminster Abbey
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